5 Critical Skills For Successful Project Management

Tatiana Czuchnowsky

Want to be a successful PM? Master these 5 critical skills and you’ll be well on your way The Project Management Institute defines project management …

Want to be a successful PM? Master these 5 critical skills and you’ll be well on your way

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The Project Management Institute defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. It’s a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals — and thus, better compete in their markets.” Project management is really about making things happen, through planning, planning and more planning, while completing deliverables within time and budget.

What skills are necessary to be a successful project manager (PM)? There are many key requirements that every PM must know to manage any project effectively and efficiently, too many to list in a single blog. In a nutshell, a successful project manager is able to envision an entire project from beginning to end, and possesses the capabilities and tools necessary to realize the vision. Here are 5 critical skills that every project manager needs to master.

  1. Communication – the ability to communicate effectively truly is an art form. And a key role in project management is that of the communicator. Communicating comfortably with people at all levels and at all stages of a project, from entry level to C-suite, is a necessary skill for every PM. Taking this a step further, communications must be tailored to your audience; everyone needs to be engaged differently. Some will prefer in-depth explanations and analysis, while others simply want a brief overview. Listen to, be present with and mindful of those you speak with and get to understand the best style of communication to get your message across and have it resonate with your audience. 
  2. Organization – This doesn’t need much explanation. Project management IS organization!  Keeping project information, schedules and team members organized is critical. A great organizational tool is the WBS or Work Breakdown Structure, which breaks down your larger project into smaller, more manageable sub-projects and responsibilities.
  3. Planning – this is simply the most important activity of a project manager. Planning must be detailed and organized, keeping the end result in sight. Planning is a fluid component of all projects, plans will continually be modified and revised for the duration of an assignment, as information and input is continuously gleaned and updated.
  4. Leadership – a successful PM is a great leader, able to motivate, inspire and communicate effectively with a team and relevant stakeholders, while following project management guidelines or making program revisions as needed. Leadership requires ownership and doing whatever needs to be done to ensure the project gets delivered on time and budget.
  5. Flexibility/adaptability –  Things will change, they always do, and how you handle change can make or break a project. Flexibility means thinking creatively, a must for any project or program.  It means listening to and welcoming new ideas and ways of doing things. An effective PM is one that can assess and adapt to any situation, understanding what a project may need or how it must change to be considered a success.  

There you have it – 5 critical skills to develop and own, to be a successful project manager.  What abilities do you feel are necessary to excel in project management?


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Tatiana Czuchnowsky was an associate at CornerStone Dynamics Inc. In all her blogs efficiency was the name of the game.

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