15 Project Management Skills a Project Manager Should Have

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 December 2022

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.

Having solid project management skills allows you to tackle a project successfully, from the beginning to the end. From initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the project, a project manager should be equipped with a variety of skills to execute the whole project successfully. Regardless of your role in the team, possessing project management skills will be beneficial for both you and the team when it comes to completing an assignment. In this article, we will discuss the top 15 project management skills that a project manager should have.

What are project management skills?

Project management skills refer to the basic necessary skills that enable you to complete a project from start to finish. These skills are needed in different stages of the project. For example, planning and budget management are critical during project initiation, while problem-solving, organisation, and leadership are essential during the execution stage. As for the closing stage, reporting and communication are usually the most important skills.

What does a project manager do?

A project manager is responsible for the whole course of the project, from planning the project, mapping the timeline, forming the team, assessing project risks, managing budgets, executing the project, communicating with stakeholders, solving problems, all the way to delivering the end results.

Related: Execution Skills: Definition and Examples

15 project management skills

Here are the top 15 skills that a project manager should have:

1. Planning and forecasting

Project management requires thorough planning. This is often challenging, especially when you need to make an educated guess on timeline and resources. Expertise and experience in the subject will come in handy during planning, helping them make estimates and predictions.

2. Subject matter expertise

Project management is needed in a variety of industries, and it is advantageous for a project manager to have expertise and knowledge in the related field. Having experience and familiarity in the industry will help them manage the projects more smoothly throughout. On top of that, they also need to have an understanding of basic policies, including health, safety, environmental, and business best practices.

Related: What Are Environmental Manager Skills and Qualifications?

3. Risk management

Risks are inevitable in every project. Thus, a project manager should have the experience and ability to assess the expected risks and how to mitigate these risks. They should also know how to use risk management tools to help them further analyse potential risks and develop risk mitigation strategies.

4. Project management methodologies

A good project manager should be able to apply frameworks and methodologies, such as Agile and SCRUM. Being familiar with a variety of methodologies will help them determine which one is the right fit for a particular project.

5. Budget management

One of the most important tasks for a project manager is to create a feasible budget and monitor it throughout the whole project. A good project manager understands that there is a financial constraint that they have to work with, and is able to decide the spending within the limitation.

6. Team management

While building a great team, a project manager should also be able to bring the team together, aligning the team's goal with the organisation's goal. Team management skills include the ability to effectively delegate responsibilities, evaluate performances, and coach team members to help them improve their skills.

7. Time management

Aside from financial constraints, a project also has a time constraint. A project manager should be able to create a project timeline and keep track of the schedule throughout the project cycle to be able to meet the deadlines.

8. Leadership

Leadership skills are also needed for a project manager, especially because they need to lead their team to complete the project successfully. It is important for a project manager to constantly oversee the progress and motivate members of the team.

Related: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

9. Organisation

Organisation skills are important to ensure each stage of the project runs smoothly and is in line with common goals. Organisation skills include the ability to multitask, delegate, prioritise tasks, and document everything for future access.

10. Communication

A project manager also acts as a bridge between the client and the team. Thus, it is essential that a project manager communicates well within the team and with the clients, ensuring that the project runs smoothly and meets the expectations of the stakeholders. They need great communication skills to communicate their vision, goals, ideas, and challenges effectively, as well as deliver presentations and reports.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills

11. Adaptability

Project managers must be flexible and be able to quickly adapt to upcoming product trends, new technology, and user demographics. This skill allows a project manager to improve the team's productivity and speed.

12. Problem-solving

Good project management includes being able to solve unanticipated events, despite the circumstances. Problem-solving skills allow a project manager to gather information, weigh the associated pros and cons, then formulate the best solution for the problem at hand.

13. Reporting skills

A project manager needs to be able to gather information throughout the period of the project and eventually, report them for evaluation. Project managers need reporting skills to coordinate with managers, clients, and team members to set expectations, objectives, and convey information regarding deliverables.

14. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills include self-confidence, relationship, and collaboration skills. These skills help a project manager to manage the team and lead the team members to work more effectively and efficiently. This also boosts the morale of the team because people enjoy working with one another.

Related: Interpersonal Skills Definition and Examples

15. Negotiation

A project manager should also be able to negotiate effectively between the client, manager, team, and all other stakeholders, to achieve the best and most satisfactory result.

How to improve project management skills?

Varying from soft skills to technical skills, possessing the skills of a project manager is always needed regardless of your role in the team.

Here is how you can improve your project management skills:

1. Use the right project management tools

With the development of technology, different types of project management tools allow a project manager to work with the team more effectively. From tracking supplies, scheduling, communicating, and measuring productivity, there is a perfect software for each of your project management needs.

2. Examine your productivity and be proactive

When a project continues to be delayed or when a problem persists throughout the cycle of the project, it is best that a project manager examines the productivity of themselves and the team. Taking action and seeing through the issue will really demonstrate your project management skills.

3. Delegate tasks wisely

It is wise to choose the right people for the right tasks. One person may be good in one type of job, but does not produce results in others. Being able to delegate tasks wisely within the team not only increases efficiency, but also allows team members to develop their skill sets. When the right people work on the appropriate tasks which match their knowledge and skill level, they will be able to unleash their potential and deliver great results.

4. Set realistic expectations

Setting realistic expectations allows a project manager to execute good planning, manage budgeting well, create clear objectives, schedule a clear timeline and in the end, increase the team's productivity. A good project manager understands that a goal can be achieved with realistic expectations. It is important to make it obvious when deadlines are due and when employees are assigned to work. This way, the team members know exactly what is expected of them, when they need to complete their tasks, and what they will be working on next. While doing this, it is important that a project manager reevaluate the team's performance regularly and recall the project's stages to tackle any challenges that can hinder the project's success.

5. Improve communication

Effective communication is essential to form a great team. With good communication, a project manager can understand both the team and the client better, enabling the stakeholders to work closely. It may take some time to find the best communication strategy, but it is necessary to integrate the most suitable communication method into the team. A few common ways that have been adopted by companies include weekly emails, one-on-one chats or morning meetings.

6. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback is one of the most important steps, and it allows a project manager to constantly improve. Asking for feedback is a strategic way to find out what's working for the client and the team. It's best to ask for feedback regularly: after setting a deadline, while training the team members or creating a new system.

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