27 September 2023

Project power: The skills and responsibilities of a Project Manager

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Adam Shapley* describes the duties of a Project manager as a ‘Change Agent” with five main skills they need to master.

The role of Project Manager is not an easy job; in fact, it’s many different jobs rolled into one and therefore demands a vast and varied skill-set.

This is especially true in today’s rapidly changing world of work as organisations continue to adopt new technologies and transform their businesses to remain competitive.

As a Project Manager, you’re a change agent working with various teams and individuals of all ranks and roles.

You use your technical, business and management skills so that you can deal with complex systems and processes.

You are a leader who manages your own team to achieve optimum performance.

To be successful in this diverse role, here are the five top skills that Project Managers need to master:

Leadership with a strategic mindset

The primary role of a Project Manager is to lead from a strategic and operational perspective.

As the Project Manager, you must understand early on how the project objectives align to the overall business strategy and be able to communicate the vision and objectives to the team.

A great Project Manager will not just lead their team but set goals, manage stakeholder expectations, resolve conflict, evaluate performance and empower the team to successful project completion.

Further, a Project Manager should also possess a combination of technical knowledge and business intelligence to be able to act as a conduit between the project team and the organisation’s leaders.

Stakeholder engagement

With any project, you’ll have to manage and engage with stakeholders who have an interest in or ability to influence your project.

It’s important to understand who will be affected by the project as it will allow you to plan communication and engagement strategies to limit any issues that might arise while also leveraging any stakeholders who are advocates for your project.

Developing your soft skills in areas such as communication, teamwork, negotiation and conflict resolution will help ensure you are well positioned to manage and engage with your project stakeholders effectively.

Risk management

When projects don’t go to plan, the finger is usually always pointed at the Project Manager.

Questions are asked as to whether the Project Manager could have foreseen the risk and prevented it from becoming an issue.

The ability to manage risk is an essential skill to ensure any project’s success.

As a Project Manager, you need to be able to develop a risk management plan on how potential threats will be handled so you can quickly mitigate or avoid any issues should they arise.

Developing your capabilities in risk management comes down to experience and learning where the risk points would be in a project. By adeptly managing risk, there will be less surprises, fewer costs and better delivery of the project.

A mentoring mentality

Project Managers who have a solid grasp on how to effectively mentor their team are highly valued by employers.

With lifelong learning and continuous upskilling increasingly important in the evolving world of work, it is essential that you become a manager who is willing to share your knowledge, expertise and experience to support your team’s growth.

By taking on responsibility for your team’s personal development, they’ll become more motivated and engaged throughout the project and, in turn, deliver better outcomes for the organisation.

Additionally, potential employers and recruiters favour Project Managers who can recognise their role as a mentor, demonstrate their willingness to commit to their team’s personal development and ensure each individual is motivated to contribute their skills and expertise to build a strong and cohesive unit.

Agile and hybrid methodologies

Agile project management remains one of the most coveted skills that employers look for in a Project Manager.

Organisations are operating in a highly competitive landscape and customers demand quality services and products faster than ever before.

Consequently, Project Managers need to be skilled and knowledgeable in both Agile and hybrid methodologies so that they can adapt and respond to change swiftly.

Hybrid methodology combines Agile and traditional methods to manage the planning, execution and delivery of the project.

While Project Manages who are skilled in Agile will continue to be in demand, those who recognise the advantages of adopting a flexible approach will be even more valuable to employers.

Whilst these are not the only skills a Project Manager should possess, mastering them will provide you with a solid foundation on which you can build a successful career in project management.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a new role or wanting to take the next step in your career, demonstrating these particular skills to your employer or recruiter will help you stand out and differentiate you from the competition.

* Adam Shapley is Managing Director, Hays New Zealand and Hays IT Australia & New Zealand. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn

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