15 Project Management Skills Every Manager Should Have

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective project management skills enable you to run a project successfully from the beginning till the end. These skills are important to complete your work efficiently, manage stressful situations and tight deadlines. To become an effective project manager, you need to practise and develop these critical skills.

In this article, we explore what project management skills are, describe why they are necessary and outline the top 15 project management skills every project manager should have.

What are project management skills?

Project management skills are traits and capabilities required to plan and execute a project successfully. As a project manager, you play a crucial role in managing the project from conception to implementation. You are also responsible for handling resources and communicating your project status with key stakeholders. You will also have to deal with creating, allocating and managing the budget to ensure it's always within limits. With good project management skills, it will be easier to manage these responsibilities and handle your job efficiently.

Why are project management skills necessary?

Companies look for skilled project managers who can fulfil project goals and stakeholder expectations. Here are few ways project management skills can help an organisation's growth:

  • Foster strong company culture

  • Keep projects on schedule

  • Deliver customer expectations

  • Maintain product or service quality

  • Empower and enable team members to succeed in their roles

  • Keep the project costs and budgets within limits

  • Contribute towards the growth and success of the organisation

15 project management skills

You can broadly classify all project management skills into hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills, commonly referred to as technical skills, are the tangible and measurable knowledge, skills and abilities required to become a successful project manager. Soft skills are non-technical skills that include interpersonal skills, listening skills, communication and time management, among others.

Here are the top project management hard skills:

1. Project planning skills

Planning is one of the most important hard skills of project management. During the planning stage, you need to anticipate potential problems and develop strategies to overcome them should they arise. You are responsible for creating project proposals and conveying your vision to stakeholders and team members. When planning project timelines, you also have to capture all the constraints in terms of cost, scope, schedule and resources. A good project plan will help you streamline processes, collaborate with your team and coordinate all the tasks across the project.

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2. Budgeting skills

Often, project managers are responsible for managing the budgetary requirements during project development. As a result, you have to monitor the project expenses and mitigate any potential cost risks in advance. Unexpected or unplanned costs can delay a project, so it's critical to identify potential issues and make adjustments within the project scope. Good budgeting and financial management skills can help you to deliver a project within the pre-defined limits.

3. Task management skills

Task management involves scheduling, monitoring and assessing the project's progress to ensure that it runs smoothly. As a project manager, your responsibility is to identify the best task management approach to boost productivity, reduce errors and facilitate work navigation. Using to-do lists, Kanban methodology, team-based initiatives and spreadsheet building are various forms of task management.

4. Project management tools and software

Knowledge of several project management tools and software is an important skill for this role. Several tools are available for each project management activity, including centralised communication, drafting, managing project plans and streamlined communication. These tools help manage the administrative workload and are an essential component to the success of a project.

5. Risk management skills

Risks are inevitable during a project. Risks could appear in several ways, such as a lack of resources during the project or delays in the approval process from the client's side. As a project manager, you are responsible for navigating around these risks to ensure the project remains on track. You should also have the ability to anticipate risk and implement a risk mitigation strategy. Always communicate with your team and continually update their timeline to avoid any unexpected surprises. You can also use professional risk management tools to analyse potential risks and develop appropriate mitigation strategies.

6. Organisation skills

Project managers must possess strong organisational skills to run projects smoothly and to align their team members towards shared project goals. Organisational skills include the ability to multitask, prioritise activities, compartmentalise projects and keep proper documentation for easy access and future reference. With a personal organisation strategy, you can get more work done, feel less stressed and be an admirable leader.

Soft skills include the personality traits and attributes needed to succeed as a project manager. These skills characterise how a person interacts with others and the relationships they build. Here are the top project management soft skills:

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

1. Leadership skills

To become an efficient project manager, you need to possess excellent leadership qualities. As a project manager, you should coordinate project tasks, motivate and encourage team members and make informed decisions. A good leader can win over people's trust and take responsibility for their team's successes and failures.

2. Communication skills

Effective communication skill is one of the most critical project management skills. Successful managers know what needs to be communicated and the best way to do it. The ability to convey your vision and goals with clients and team members is an important skill. You should also possess excellent verbal and written communication skills to create presentations and reports.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

3. Negotiation skills

A project manager uses negotiation skills when interacting with vendors, clients and team members throughout the project life cycle. With excellent negotiation skills, project managers can resolve conflicts to ensure the project runs successfully.

4. Team management skills

Evaluating performance effectively, delegating tasks responsibly, and handling conflicts are essential aspects of managing great teams. An effective project manager is skilful enough to motivate and direct their team members towards organisational and project goals. You should also be considerate towards your team members' personal goals and ensure they align with the organisation's goals.

5. Time management skills

Time management is a critical skill that project managers should nurture. As the project begins, you should assign tasks according to the work breakdown structure (WBS) to get a vivid picture of all the activities and deliverables that need to be completed for the project. Several project management tools include features, such as Gantt charts or Kanban boards, that help monitor performance and improve your time management skills.

It's important to maximise your team's efficiency to manage the costs and ensure the project is within the budget. To create accountability and transparency within your team members, you can use various tools such as dashboards, timesheets and calenders to monitor the project life cycle.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

6. Critical thinking skills

Often, project managers face conflicting data, flaws in reasoning and mismatched ideas. Being able to gather all the required information to weigh the pros and cons and arrive at the most appropriate solution is a core project management skill. You should be able to question all assumptions and diversify your thought process to make informed decisions.

  1. Adaptability skills

Project managers must be adaptable to new situations, environments and technologies. You must be willing to step out of your comfort zone and learn continuously to lead your team in the right direction. An effective project manager is flexible and agile and knows how to make necessary adjustments to go ahead, even in the face of unexpected issues.

8. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand what the other person feels and view things from their perspective. Being empathetic allows you to engage with your team members more compassionately and productively. This, in turn, enables you to be an insightful leader and create a rewarding environment for your team. Empathy is also an essential project management skill for resolving conflicts.

9. Decision making skills

As a project manager, you have to make critical decisions on a daily basis. Strong decision-making skills are essential so that you can evaluate all available options and choose the best course of action. A good project manager doesn't hesitate to make rational and practical decisions that are critical to the success of a project.

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