Development organizations appoint a project manager according to the depth of his or her technical skills. It is not unusual to find a good engineer being promoted to project manager just for his or her technical competence. While it is true that a good understanding of the technical aspects of a project is useful, project managers are also required to have good management skills, such as communicating, planning, negotiating, coaching, decision-making, and leadership. These skills are often overlooked at the time of hiring or appointing a project manager.
Many project managers are not able to successfully lead projects due to a deficiency of the necessary soft skills.
The job description for a project manager needs to be more explicit and describe the managerial skills and competencies required for the job. Organizations usually assign a project manager with the idea that all that is required is expertise in a technical area, often forgetting the need to have a project manager with the skills to lead a project team, coordinate the use of resources, communicate with stakeholders, and manage the project constraints.
In today’s projects, soft skills are becoming equally as important as technical or hard skills. To be an effective project manager today requires more and more, including a good understanding of general management. Projects are becoming more complex in their nature, and it is no longer possible for the project manager to remain a technical expert. Project managers need to spend more of their time planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring the project.
These are the most critical soft skills:
- Leadership skills - They are essential for project managers, because project managers must influence the behavior of others to achieve the project objectives.
- Communication skills - This skill enables a project manager to convey project information in a way that it is assimilated and understood by all project stakeholders, includes both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
- People skills - Needed in development projects due to the large number of people interfacing with the project. Includes the ability to listen, be empathetic and motivate people.