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The Most Important Soft Skills For Project Managers

Posted on 25th January 2022 by FinXL

Across Australia, project managers are in demand.

In its 2020 survey, the Australian Institute of Project Management found that 67% of respondents said that projects at Australian businesses are becoming more complex, particularly in the government and construction sector.

But here’s another interesting fact from that survey: When asked what project management skills were most desired, respondents indicated that soft skills have become more important than hard skills.

While technical skills like contract negotiation, risk management, and planning/organisation are still vital for these roles, the best project managers will also bring a number of other skills to the table that can make a world of difference.

Here are the top 5 soft skills any business should look for when bringing on a new project manager.

Related: 25 Resources That Will Make You a Better Project Manager

 

1. Leadership & Influence

Project managers often have a team of their own to manage, and their job often requires them to liaise with many individuals throughout the business.

To do this successfully, a strong project manager needs to know how to lead a team. This skill in itself requires several other important soft skills, like empathy, conflict management, and creativity.

The ability to influence and persuade others in the company is also vital, and requires a similar skill set. This will be useful, whether negotiating with internal stakeholders or trying to ease friction and resistance when working in change management.

 

2. Strong Communication

Project management involves many moving parts—and project managers need to be effective communicators to keep everything in motion.

These professionals must clearly communicate their processes, needs, methods, and results, in ways that will have the most impact. And now more than ever, project managers have to be adept at communicating across different channels—written communication is just as important as verbal communication in this role.

This skill is of particular importance when project managers need to speak directly with stakeholders. During such important conversations, project managers must be poised, persuasive, precise and direct.

 

3. Creative Problem Solving

There’s perhaps no skill more important for a successful project manager than the ability to solve problems. This ability is at the core of their job—they’ll need to approach each project with an analytical mind, and find the most efficient way through to the conclusion. Overcoming obstacles (unforeseen issues, technical challenges or resourcing concerns) is a very important ability, required on most projects to one degree or another.

This is where creativity comes into play for project managers. Interviewing project managers should include questions about the candidates' experience in coming up with creative solutions to challenging problems.

 

4. Collaboration & Motivation

Project management cannot happen in a silo. In fact, many projects require input from several different departments across a single business, and perhaps external parties as well.

A successful project manager will be able to collaborate with a variety of roles (and personalities) across the business, tapping the skills, talents, and insights of others to get a project across the line smoothly.

Additionally, project managers need to be motivated—and they must motivate others around them to complete their duties. It’s easy to underestimate the impact (positive or negative) of the project manager’s mood and attitude on the rest of the team.

That being said, project managers must also be strong and vocal advocates for what they need to achieve a goal. They are the experts on the resources required for any given job. A project manager who can clearly communicate what’s needed in terms of budget and support will be far more successful than those who aren’t able to voice their needs.

 

5. Resourcefulness & Advocacy

Project managers are responsible for making sure big, complex projects don’t go over budget or miss deadlines. This often means project managers have to make the most out of the resources they have by removing project bottlenecks and diligently monitoring project spend.

That being said, project managers must also be strong and vocal advocates for what they need to achieve a goal. They are the experts on the resources required for any given job. A project manager who can clearly communicate what’s needed in terms of budget and support will be far more successful than those who aren’t able to voice their needs.

Project managers are in demand now more than ever before—but companies still must be selective when looking for the right person to fill their project management needs. If you come across project managers who possess the characteristics on this list, you know you’ve found the right fit.

 

FinXL is always seeking good project managers to join their team so please reach out for further information on our current vacancies.