Fun fact: when I first looked at the job listing for a Project Manager at Netguru, I wasn’t sure if I would cut it. It’s that intimidating. Then I read through the offer and realised that while the skills required are quite specific, they are not rocket science. This is true for project management positions at other companies, as well.
So what are the 5 most important skills a good Project Manager should have?
That’s a key skill for a Project Manager. As a PM, you spend most of your time communicating with your team members, on calls with clients, talking to business development representatives, sharing your experience with other PMs, giving feedback on the work of developers and designers. You need to know how to communicate effectively and clearly as well as how to be a good listener to properly register what others are trying to convey. It can also be necessary to read between the lines to detect the early signs of an oncoming crisis.
Well, you’re a manager, it’s in the job title, but leadership is more than just keeping an eye on everyone’s performance and making sure the workflow is smooth. It also means making executive decisions under the pressure of time and tackling their consequences if they prove to be less than ideal. A good leader builds their authority on being someone others can depend on for support, help and leading the way in every situation imaginable.
3. Personal organization
Without that a PM is dead in the water. There are so many messages and tasks piling up on a PM’s plate every day that you need to have a good personal organization system in place to tackle that. A well-organized calendar, file folder and task manager will help you conquer each day’s work.
4. Scheduling and planning
It’s one thing to be well-organized and another to be good at planning. Good scheduling for a project requires both a good overview of the present and an ability to foresee more or less what might happen in the future, and planning around that. There are many factors to take into account: the estimations of the designers and developers, the division of work in general, absences and bank holidays, company-specific periods of additional work… It all impacts your project’s schedule.
5. Critical thinking
Last but not least, perhaps the most important skill of all for a PM is critical thinking. In the daily whirlwind of meetings, calls and tasks, it’s easy to let things slide or follow the path of least resistance. While this may serve us for a while, in the long term it’s better to take a step back and look critically at the project, our team members, the product we are working on and the value we want to provide. Only then we can spot our weaker points that might mean the difference between going forward smoothly and dragging ourselves out of a failure.