Updated: Jul 4
When someone mentions the role "Project Manager", what is the first vision that arrives in your mind? Someone who can make a schedule? Someone who can develop a budget spreadsheet? Someone who understand the technical underpinnings of your solution? All of those are absolutely in the wheelhouse of a good project manager. But what about some of the skills that are harder to quantify? This post is going to dive into some of the more essential "soft" skills that strong project managers possess.
Keeping and Even Keel
Nothing will turn your project team into a group of panicked individuals quicker than your project manager showing the same behavior. A strong project manager will take the bad times in stride, making sure that the lows don't get too low with your team. That same project manager will also take wins with a grain of salt, knowing that a monster could be lurking around the corner at any time. It's incredibly important that your project managers (and leaders in general) be that steadying influence on your team, in both good and hard times.
Knowing When to Push and When to Back Off
There will come a time in the life of every project where the crunch hits - deadlines approach (and sometimes pass) quickly and your project team will be under pressure to deliver. It takes a project manager with some strong soft skills to know when the good times are to push the project team to achieve the goals vs backing off knowing that the team is already under immense pressure to deliver and having one more person bark orders at them will likely not produce the desired results. This comes from time spent forging relationships with the individual team members, understanding their capacity for pressure and their ability to deliver under that same pressure. Strong project managers will play their cards at the right time when it comes to pushing the team for results.
Embracing Hard Decisions
With every project there will be times where the project manager will be looked upon to make a decision. Some decisions may be easier than others but there are going to be difficult ones as well. Another key soft skill for a project manager to develop is the ability to make a decision and not let the absence of a decision cause more harm than making a wrong decision. The project manager may be held accountable for the results of a bad decision and this may scare more rookie project managers into not making a decision at all, it's always better to gather the facts, make a choice and then live/deal with the consequences and benefits of that choice.