The 5 essential soft skills for a Project Manager

To become a successful project manager, technical knowledge alone is not enough.
Since the project manager has a role in synergy and interdependence with the environment and the team, it is essential that the project manager has the soft skills necessary for the success of the projects.

Here are the five essential soft skills for a Project Manager:

  1. Team Building
  2. Decision making
  3. Manage conflicts
  4. Effective communication
  5. Know how to negotiate


1. Team Building

To be able to carry out and manage projects efficiently and effectively, it is essential that the team is aligned and above all that it collaborates. The project manager must act as the glue between the various members, making them collaborate and assigning tasks that reflect as much as possible the skills and inclinations of each of them.

If the project manager is able to create a team spirit that involves all team members, he/she will be able to rely more and more on collaborators. The team will be motivated to work synergistically with each other, which will help avoid problems and misunderstandings and facilitate all processes.


2. Decision making

Obviously, in the development of a project, it is necessary to be able to make the right decisions, trying to stay on schedule. The successful project manager must be able to collect the ideas of all team members and then make decisions that may conflict with the proposals received if this guarantees the success of the project.

It can certainly be useful to rely on the six-step decision model:

  1. Define the problem clearly and concisely.
  2. Brainstorm with the team to come up with possible solutions.
  3. Define evaluation criteria for solutions and analyze the pros and cons of each of them.
  4. Understand which other actors are involved in the implementation of the solution and involve them in the process.
  5. After carrying out the implementation, analyze, evaluate and listen to the lessons learned.
  6. Evaluate to what extent the project goal has been achieved by implementing the solution.


3. Manage conflicts

The teams that work well are not the teams without conflict.
The teams that work well are those where these conflicts are managed and overcome.
It is precisely in conflict situations that the experience of a project manager is essential.

In fact, the project manager must be able to manage internal problems in the team so as to ensure that the project proceeds successfully.

The causes that can trigger the emergence of possible conflicts are many, such as poor or ineffective communication between team members, unclear requests regarding project implementation requirements, pre-existing and deep-rooted internal conflicts, company policies that are not very inclined to foster collaboration between colleagues.

A successful project manager must be able to overcome even the pre-existing problems rooted within the team in order to guarantee a relaxed and stimulating working climate that is able to lead to the realization of quality projects within the established times.


4. Effective communication

A successful project manager must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with all stakeholders involved in the project. This involves first of all the ability to communicate with the members of one’s team: open communication is an element of effective involvement that can concretely motivate professionals.

Being always up-to-date makes the team members proactive towards possible problems. Above all, it makes them more motivated to commit themselves so that the project is completed within the pre-established deadlines and in compliance with the required quality standards.

The colleagues are then joined by superiors, with whom the project manager must be able to communicate clearly on the developments of the project, whether positive or negative. This allows them to avoid misunderstandings regarding what is requested by the project team managers.

Finally, of course, the customers.
The project manager who is unable to communicate with their customers will not be able to carry out projects that satisfy them and every job will fail from the beginning. Communication is therefore one of the main elements behind the success of any project.


5. Know how to negotiate

This soft skill is also essential for the success of any project.
As mentioned above, the project manager is the element that unites work teams, superiors, and customers.

In addition to having to communicate individually with these and other groups (e.g. suppliers), the project manager must also be able to manage the requests of the parties and balance them with each other. Negotiation skills are certainly one of the soft skills that most help every project manager on a practical level: it eases the pressure of work and helps to find solutions to problems that may initially seem insurmountable.