A woman working at a desk in a brightly lit office. Her computer has a project management spreadsheet open showing a colour-coded timeline.
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5 skills you need to succeed in project management

14 Mar 2022

Whether you’re taking a new role as a project manager or just need to lead a team on a particular task, these are the skills you need.

In any number of jobs in science and technology, you may be required to lead a project. For those who have already worked as people managers, some of the skills required might come naturally.

However, for those who need to lead a project and have never managed a team directly before, there are some additional soft skills you will need as well as some more hard or technical ones.

Future Human

While these skills are particularly important for project managers, they are also important for any employee to work on and help future-proof their own abilities.

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Methodology knowledge

While you don’t need to be an expert in every type of project management methodology, it’s good to be familiar with them. The industry you’re in will often dictate the methodology you become familiar with.

A project management methodology is a set of principles, tools and techniques that are used to plan, execute and manage projects.

Regular project managers will likely already know one or more of these methods, but those who don’t can gain some really helpful skills by becoming familiar with these methodologies and even upskilling in a particular method.

Risk management

Risk management is about identifying, evaluating and preventing any potential risks to a project that could impact the end result.

If you’re managing any kind of project, it’s always best to build your risk management skills by thinking them through at the beginning of the process.

What potential hurdles could crop up during the project? Are there any current challenges that could pose problems down the line such as a lack of technical expertise, a delay to deadlines or increasing costs?

Project managers are typically responsible for overseeing the risk management process throughout the duration of a given project and this will also include cost management if applicable. If there is a possibility of problems bringing additional costs, then this will need to be factored into your risk management plan.

Team leadership

For those who have already worked as managers or have previous experience in managing projects, team leadership will be a skill that they are well versed in.

Anyone managing a project will more than likely be managing people alongside that project, and those people need to trust you.

Familiarise yourself with your team members’ personalities, skillsets and working styles in order to get the best out of them and set a positive working culture. You’ll also need to build your skills around conflict management, coaching and performance monitoring.

Time management

An essential skill for virtually every type of worker, time management is particularly important for anyone managing a project.

Figuring out timelines from the outset will be one of the best ways to flex this skill, along with building in contingencies and back-up strategies for anything that might disrupt the timeline.

Once again, this is where the ability to manage risk can become very important because those risks can often affect the time a project will take. This can upset the end goal, especially if there are important deadlines to hit.

Adaptability

Finally, a critical skill for project managers is their ability to adapt. Even the best laid plans need to be adjusted or sometimes thrown out altogether, and it is rare that a project will go exactly as expected without any changes.

Anyone leading a project, as well as those who are part of the team, will need to be ready for unexpected challenges or changes and willing to work with them and adjust their plans accordingly.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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