I thought PMP certification would make me a perfect project manager!

Unfortunately, many professionals believe that only getting an industry certification like PMP, APMPQ or Prince 2 would make them in to a flawless project manager. But then realize that there is much more required to know the trade secrets of the job.
In my viewpoint, a project manager must have a combination of hard skills and some critical soft skills. Hard skills like process integration, budgeting, scheduling and reporting are something which can be learnt and for that, standard certifications frameworks and methodologies can be a booster to endorse your understandings. However, soft skills are to be practiced and certain times it is part of people’s personality. Many professionals lack soft skills, which puts in a terrible situation of managing their projects ineffectively. Following are some key soft skills, which are crucial to manage your projects well.

Self-Time Management: If you are not able to manage your time well then how can you deliver the project on schedule? I have seen many people in simple daily tasks just cannot maintain punctuality how much ever they try. I had a friend who always made me wait whenever we decided to meet up. He used to be always 15 – 20 minutes late due to different issues each time. Once deliberately, I reached 20 mins late assuming that he will also be late like always. However, that day for the first time, he was on time but I was late as I had stopped taking him seriously for his commitment.  This happens with project managers (PMs) who cannot maintain time bound delivery, stakeholders lose trust and there is low level of commitment from resources on their assignments.

Communication: Who would disagree on this soft skill? Communication is highly critical for delivering projects.  If you are not able to state clearly what has happened in simple, clear and in an abstract way then how are you supposed to put up status reports for the senior management. Stating things simply is the most difficult task and hence communications skills are crucial. Project Managers put up loads of information but when asked to describe the problem at a high level, they struggle! Management seek for recommendation from the project manager to take quick decisions.

Also with the team, communication skills assist in taking out the right information by asking right questions. Undertakings like steering all stakeholders towards a common vision, effectively managing meetings, delegating right task to the right resource, ensuring true reporting from the team and more can be only achieved successfully with good PM communication skills.

Pro-activeness: Being proactive has to be in the DNA of a PM, projects are based on plans, which are to be derived ahead of execution. If a project manager is reactive in nature, he will never trust in his plan himself, it will be merely a document to satisfy the process. Project needs continuous planning which needs proactive thinking from all team members starting from the PM. He has to instill this in to the team and if he is reactive then the team will not be motivated.   

“Good Project Managers see the end from the beginning and if the goal post shifts, then they shift their plans to still hit the goals within their deadlines.”

Decisive: Tough calls needs to be made in critical situations and hence the PM has to have a decisive ‘Type A’ personality. PM carries the management authority to deliver the project for its objectives. The team looks up to the PM as a leader when in a critical situation. The PM should have some guts to take prompt decision and steer the project in the right direction. This skill is required during conflict resolutions; YES, you encounter conflicts between teams, departments and different stakeholders. You have to be decisive enough to take a judgement to resolve, withdraw or ignore. Conflicts can be healthy if managed in the right way with appropriate resolution techniques. PMs have to decide which technique to adhere to manage the conflict in a positive way.

Confidence: Imagine a doctor stating your bad health report with no level of confidence, either you will change the doctor immediately or lose hope against being healthy. Complex projects are full of bad news frequently, and this isn’t being delegated. You as Project managers, have to carry the bad news honestly and need to have this skill. Confidence would ascend if communication is clear and PM states alternates to fix the situation to what has gone wrong. Obviously having subject matter expertise assist to gain this confidence, that is why PMs needs to understand and have some technical background for the projects they are delivering.  Confidence facilitates trust within all involved parties, which in turn ensures delivery as planned.

In conclusion, Project managers need to gain formal certifications to develop over hard skills but also cannot ignore in sharpening their soft skills to be an effective asset to their projects and the organization.



Image 1 source: https://infograph.venngage.com/p/181837/id-project-manager-skill-set-mind-map

Image 3 source: http://michaeldeddens.blogspot.qa/

Image 4 source: http://www.anonymousartofrevolution.com/2012/12/your-x-ray-showed-broken-rib-but-we.html

5 thoughts on “Perfect Project Manager

  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting article, Aamir. I agree with you that to be successful as a project manager, having just technical skills set such as project planning, scheduling, budgeting, logistics etc has been found to be insufficient. Some researchers have argued that the technical skill sets are actually minimum requirements for a project manager. In addition to the hard skills, which may be got from certifications, having soft skills can be the difference between succeeding or failing as a project manager.

    1. I am glad you like it, you are absolutely right. Technical skills are crucial, without understanding technically how the PM is able to appropriately judge the critically of the issue and potential impact of a risk. The team respects the PM more if he is able to talk at the same level of technical mindset. For soft skills, potential PMs need to ensure that they are getting mentored with experienced trainers. In future, machines will become smart to take over more and more human tasks but it will never be able to take the experience and wisdom humans persist. Experience cannot be learnt but can be shared to improve the learning curve for better performance.

Leave a Reply