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Complete List of Soft Skills for Project Managers

Halyna  Kharambura
Halyna Kharambura
13 October, 23, 2020 8 min read
13 October, 23, 2020 8 min read

Any software development project requires a firm grip of a project manager (PM). The substantial portion of a PM’s professionalism depends on what project management soft skills he or she is good at and how well they are developed.

In this article, I am going to tell you what are the skills a project manager should have. 

What Are Soft Skills?

First, let’s clarify what those soft skills actually are. The following are considered classic definitions of soft skills:

  • Managerial Skills: an analytical approach to solving problems and problems, critical thinking, setting tasks in the framework of time management, leadership attitude to business, etc.

  • Social Skills: the ability to work in a team and delegation of tasks, an attentive attitude (the ability to hear and listen), the ability to quickly resolve controversial and conflict situations in a team, etc.

  • Personal Qualities: self-discipline and self-organization, confidence in their own decisions, resistance to heavy psychological stress, firm communication skills

The Importance of Soft Skills in Project Management?

Most of the project manager’s job is to communicate with other people. He has to negotiate with team members, with management, with customers, with contractors, and in general with anyone who is related to the project.

Even during the pre-sale phase, the PM’s ability to find a common language with clients, discover their true goals and motives, and to present oneself and the company will give you an advantage over your competitors. In essence, the sale of an IT project is a form of psychotherapy where you look for a client's pain points or problems and tell how you can help solve it. You must play the role of a fortune-teller who reads your client, inspires his trust, and draws him pictures of the future that he would like to see. Similarly, when you are given a project with a team, you will have to resolve conflicts, actively listen, understand the true motives of the team members' behavior to maximize their effectiveness. 

All these are about soft skills, and without them, a project manager would not make it far in the IT industry. That is why developing and improving soft skills of project management is crucial. 

Which Soft Skills Are Crucial for Project Managers

project manager soft skills

Here I will talk about the list of the most important soft skills for project managers and how to develop it.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of reasoning, which is used for an objective analysis of any subject in order to form an evaluative conclusion. It is the ability to question any information, even your own ideas. 

The competence of critical thinking includes analysis, decomposition of logical chains, comparison of facts, derivation of value judgments. Critical thinking provokes you to look for confirmation and justification for everything. The very foundation of critical thinking is not taking any information for granted.

Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability to quickly and efficiently adapt to rapid changes, for example, working conditions or project tasks. Adaptability is integral to PMs’ work since it allows adequately analyzing and perceiving the environment around. This quality is crucial for effective risk management of an IT project and is super helpful during any instance when something goes not according to the plan.  

Interpersonal Communication Skills

Soft skills for project management are nothing without the skill of interpersonal communication. It implies the ability to interact with other participants in the work process, regulate conflicts, and work in a team. A good PM ought to have the following communicative skills:

  • Self-presentation

  • Persuasion and reasoning

  • Customer-centric communication

  • Listening skills

  • Negotiation

  • Basic sales skills

  • Public performance

  • Business communication

If you want to train your interpersonal communication skills, just use every opportunity to communicate, whether it is with colleagues, clients, or closest ones. Analyze what you said and think about whether it was effective or what and how should you present information to achieve greater results.

Research Skills

Each day you have to deal with tons of information and you surely must know the ways to clarify many difficult movements. That is why solid research soft skills for project managers are important. It includes the search, selection, analysis and application of relevant information, including using technical means.

Problem-solving and Decision-making

These are one of the most crucial soft skills required for a project manager, especially during risk management. Problem-solving and decision-making are the abilities to see options for solving situations, perspectives, use existing experience, and, based on this, make effective decisions.

Problem-solving and decision-making is when you highlight several possible scenarios for the development of events, predict the result of each of them, and choose the one that suits you best. Sometimes it happens that a decision may not be correct and suitable for everyone, but if you make a decision, it should be objective, because you will have to argue it and be responsible for the decision. 

Here you have to possess a firm critical thinking ability to foresee various scenarios and strong resoluteness to make a decision. 

Time Management

Time management implies the organization of time, the ability to effectively distribute tasks to be completed while spending the minimum amount of time required for this.

Everything here seems simple, the main thing is to get into the habit: make to-do lists according to priorities; divide large tasks into small ones, clearly set goals, set deadlines, plan a little more things than you can do, leave some free time.

Work Ethic

Work ethic soft skills for project management means performing tasks professionally, efficiently, and responsibly, including making it successfully the first time without subsequent corrections and the need to be managed by someone else. Work ethics is about the inner attitude to the quality of your work and self-responsibility. 

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotions, not to let them take over, for example, in conflict situations. This skill is important when interacting with colleagues, management. It manifests itself in a sense of tact and timely reaction. 

To train your emotional intelligence, try to acknowledge your own emotions and analyze how they affect your behavior and thoughts. Ask your close people what kind of person they see you. This will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your emotional intelligence. Then, try to shorten the amount of those weaknesses or at least highlight and improve strengths. Of course, better if both.

Project Management

Needless to say that a project manager must have an advanced project management soft skill, but I will say it anyway. This skill has many layers, each of which is equally important if you want to successfully finish more than one project. Here are some of them: 

  • Planning

  • Conducting meetings

  • Setting tasks for employees

  • Delegation of duties

  • Control over the implementation of tasks

  • Motivating subordinates

  • Giving feedback

Final Words

This was the list of skills required for project managers on their career path. These are soft skills needed for project management to be effective and successful. 

A project manager is a special category of professionals since the scale of their work requires fundamental knowledge and skills, both innate and acquired. At the same time, they are also constantly learning either with every book they read/course taken or with every completed project.

OTAKOYI’s project managers not only underwent a rigorous selection but also managed to forge their skills during numerous complex projects. Contact our team and rest assured that your project is under good control.