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project management skills
20 Sep, 2021

5 project management skills employers are looking for

As more and more industries become project-oriented, organisations are increasingly looking to hire professionals who possess the project management skills they need to thrive.

According to the Project Management Institute, the global economy needs 25 million new project professionals by 2030. That means 2.3 million people will need to enter project-management orientated roles every year just to keep up with demand!

project management

Although many industries have been disrupted by the global pandemic, one of the benefits of working in project management is that your skillset remains largely transferrable across almost all sectors. This gives you the opportunity to proactively seek out career opportunities in areas of growth as the economy begins to recover.

Qualifications such as a Master of Business Administration with a specialisation in Project Management allows students to gain foundational knowledge in business and then deep-dive into specialisation subjects such as Project Initiation, Planning and Execution and Project Risk, Finance and Monitoring.

For those looking to stand out in this field, here are five top project management skills identified by experts:

1. Communication

Developing soft skills such as communication can be just a valuable as working on your technical skills.

As a project manager, maintaining clear lines of communication helps to keep project stakeholders informed and up to date with the progress of a job. To meet project deadlines, it’s essential that everyone is on the same page and kept in the loop about any changes or issues.

But that’s often not as simple as it sounds.

You may be required to lead teams from various departments, with different skills, who may not be used to working together. An effective communicator who can provide clear instructions and expectations for their teams will significantly increase work productivity.

Communication is a foundational skill you’ll learn to master in an MBA, incorporated into subjects that focus on the art of negotiation and conflict management, as well as emotional and cultural intelligence.

2. Time Management

A project manager needs to be able to carefully balance competing tasks and priorities to meet scheduled deliverables, all while adapting to any potential changes and setbacks in the project.

Creating a project timeline and maintaining those deadlines throughout the project lifecycle will be critical to your success.

Keeping the overall flow to the project on track can be achieved by implementing time management strategies, including:

  • Having a well-defined project plan that considers all the various stakeholders involved in the project. Eisenhower's prioritisation matrix can be useful in helping you develop these skills
  • Engaging with stakeholders by investing time into building their trust and keeping them up to date with the plan as it progresses. Managing this well will mean you’re much more likely to maintain their responsiveness at various stages of the project
  • Learning to delegate and avoiding micromanaging
  • Minimising interruptions, e.g., turning off email alerts for a scheduled block during the day

3. Organisational awareness

Awareness of how an organisation is structured can help give you a clear idea about the hierarchy and management style that you’ll be working with and indicate the level of autonomy you’re likely to have over the project.

'Organisational awareness means having the ability to read a group’s emotional currents and power relationships and identify influencers, networks and dynamics within the organisation.' – Daniel Goleman, author of Organizational Awareness: A Primer

Having a high level of organisational awareness will help you to make better informed decisions and communicate in a way the best resonates with a given organisation.

4. Problem-solving

When something goes wrong in a project (and chances are it will!), the project manager is the key person that people will turn to for a solution. Problem-solving is an essential skill to handle the issues and roadblocks project managers face on a daily basis. The five-step systematic approach to problem-solving is commonly used to help identify and implement effective solutions.

5 step approach to problem-solving

>  Clearly define the problem

>  Analyse the problem and determine the main cause

>  Consider all possible solutions

>  Weigh up all the pros and cons and select the best alternative

>  Oversee the implementation of the solution and make any adjustments necessary

Our MBA students are encouraged to be critical and strategic thinkers with a creative approach to solving issues. You can learn more about the skills you’ll gain in our ultimate MBA guide.

5. Leadership

A project manager needs to possess a combination of technical skills and in-depth project knowledge as well as business intelligence to act as an effective conduit between the project team and the organisation’s executives.

Acting as a leader in this capacity is a multifaceted role.

A great project manager will not just lead their team but set goals, manage stakeholder expectations, enforce processes, motivate team members, resolve conflict, and evaluate performance.

Understanding your own inherent leadership style and identifying your existing weaknesses and strengths, will be a great starting point to becoming a leader who can empower your team to work towards an organisation’s shared vision.

Wondering where a career in project management could take you? Find out more about our Master of Business Administration with a specialisation in Project Management.