9 Essential Skills for a Project Management Role.

| 6 min read
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“Software has automated a lot of things, but not goals, resources and products. That’s something you can find in all kinds of work. Project management is not just about getting things done but getting bigger things done.” Frank Ryle 

Project management is about tracking, measuring, optimising, allocating resources (human, capital, material and technology) to meet objectives in the shortest time possible. Project management entails unique tasks and time-bound specific goals. Think of project management at its simplest form as a “to-do” list; having specific things you’ll like to get done before the end of your day.

In a typical situation, a project manager breaks down a big goal into small bits and structures and defines what works best for each structure, he’s in charge of selecting the right people who’ll be assigned to carry out certain tasks. Every project has a life cycle and the project manager is responsible for delivering the right results with the required quality in order to satisfy his clients or superiors (most project managers work on contract terms).  See some jobs that require project management skills here.

A good project manager has professional will, he’s smart, energetic, persistent and firm when necessary; he also focuses on what matters most in the project. The outcome of any project is dependent on what the project manager did or didn’t do in the course of carrying out the project. A good project manager performs his duties using a Work Breakdown Structure.

The project manager takes full responsibility for the successes or failures of any project; since he is responsible for producing results, he pays close attention to the processes too and influences his team to provide quality through each project phase.

Basically, every human endeavor requires a project manager.

Project management is essential in any organisation; a lot of things go wrong in an organisation without proper project management. Effective project management saves cost, time, provides quality, and proactively tackle bottlenecks in the organisation.

Skills required for project management vary but these are some of the most sought after skills in project managers.

Effective planning/Project execution: this is quite obvious – every goal requires a plan – but most projects fail due to lack of adequate planning. Project managers are expected to execute projects, work with timelines and adopt models that work best for each project. With this skill, you can successfully lead your team through the project management phase.

People management/ Interpersonal skill: although managing people is about 10% of project management, it is crucial for increased efficiency and overall output. Having the right people carry out a project is a basic necessity in project management because they’ll be in charge of the other resources required to perform tasks.

A project manager with interpersonal skills knows how to deal with people, he has a positive attitude (which helps influence people to get things done). People management is not all that an easy task, every project manager is expected to coordinate people (with different motives and personalities) and synchronise their needs to meet with the objectives of the project. With this skill, you can engage people to carry out their tasks without delay.

Leadership: project managers are good leaders, a good project manager has strong personal integrity and is strong-willed; he has charisma, manages by example, takes initiatives for projects and motivates his team(s) to get things done. You’ll be at an advantage if you’ve successfully managed teams before.

Technical/Computing skills: ranging from the use of basic computer programs like MS Project, MS Excel, Powerpoint, Spreadsheet,  to complex software programs like the PMS (Project Management Software); a project manager is expected to have adept knowledge and some level of expertise in these skills. These softwares are essential for  aligning details of the projects after splitting them into sub-divisions and structures.

Critical/Analytical thinking: With this skill, you can logically set standards for each team, you can also evaluate each work done, understand  how every change affects the whole project, figure out how much work is required to get back on track and what should be done to promote the quality of the project being carried out.

Decision making/Budgeting/Cost management: you don’t necessarily have to be an accountant or have an accounting background to qualify as a project manager. You may have people who are in charge of managing finances for projects but with this skill you can proactively challenge budget over-runs and avoid waste overtime.

Good decision making is essential; as a project manager, you’ll be indirectly responsible for issues such as marketing, risk management, legal issues etc. with this skill, you can adequately hone all the ideas from across teams to create an excellent strategy for getting the kinds of results anticipated in each project.

Excellent Communication/Presentation: a project manager needs to set clear expectations with his team and this is only possible with effective communication. As a project manager, you’ll be making presentations, communicating with clients virtually and face-to-face, you’ll be making negotiations, and in some cases, persuade project sponsors or customers; communication is a powerful and vital tool for solving most organisational problems, it proves itself a must-have for every project manager.

Result-oriented/ Problem solving: this goes without saying, you’ll be expected to deliver results – that’s why you are project manager- you have to think on your feet, basically sleep, eat, dream the entire project. Usually, when things go wrong, everybody steps back and the project manager is held accountable for everything, from start to finish.

Time- management: As a project manager, you’ll be expected to meet deadlines within the constraints of each project. Time management is not only about meeting deadlines but also involves allotting time for each task to ensure tasks are not carried on for too long. This skill is necessary for increased output.

Other skills include: flexibility (ability to work in a challenging environment), self-management etc. Check out these Jobs that fall under Project Management.

Lola Olakeye


  1. As an employer of labour, hw do I make use of ur site in advertising vacancies as well as getting qualified candidates for advertised vacancies

  2. I thought Femi meant organizations not job seekers. He wants to know how to get in touch with qualified applicants for a job

  3. The aspect of project managers being good leaders, to an extent is not correct.
    Why? Good leaders are not characterized by their profession/specialty. Leadership skill can be acquired, learnt over time or cultivated as a habit.

  4. Sir/ma, how would someone acquired project management skill? Is it only by enrol in business school or what?

    • No Ayinde, there are free simple online courses on project management like this and this, where you can gain fair knowledge about project management, you can even get certificates at the end of these courses; however, certifications from the project management institute, our any other highly recognised institute gives you a very competitive edge. I’ll suggest you start with the free online courses if you are considering the financial (or any other) constraints. I hope this helps.

  5. Hi KC, i think Adejoke is absolutely correct but perhaps his/her statement wasn’t qualified to say “GREAT project managers are good leaders…”

    Personally I don’t see how you can manage a project without human involvement – whether it be people or just self – without any leadership abilities.

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