Project managers undoubtedly need soft skills. There is debate throughout the profession of Project Management about what these skills are and how they should be measured.
In general terms, soft skills are the skills that an individual has in relation to their Emotional Intelligence Quotient, their ‘EQ’. These cover a wide range of skills including communications, interpersonal skills, and how an individual builds and maintains relationships with others. In a project environment, getting others to work with you toward a common goal is the cornerstone of project delivery.
The 12 essential behaviors for project managers are:
* Communication and Consultation
* Conflict and crisis management
* Flexibility and creativity
* Learning and development
* Organization effectiveness
* Problem solving and decision making
* Professionalism and Ethics
The importance and priority of competencies will be influenced by the culture and environment of a project or organization; however, developing and improving these behaviors will help the project manager deliver successful projects no matter where they are being applied.
Communication and consultation: Interact with people about ideas, thoughts, facts, emotions, challenges, successes, etc. along with hard facts such as the progress of the project. Have the ability to convey complex ideas with ease; clearly articulate what needs to be accomplished; keep the team moving towards a common goal; and foster an environment that allows team members to communicate openly and honestly.
Conflict and crisis management: Listen and respond to the needs and opinions of all team members to anticipate possible areas of conflict. The ability to publicize situations in which a conflict has arisen maintains a healthy project environment.
Flexibility and creativity: Think of original and imaginative ways to expand the scope of problem solving when problems arise. Encourage project teams to find the best solution and results without slavishly following generic delivery solutions or methods. Adapt the different components, templates, tools and techniques of a project.
Leadership: Understand the vision and direction of the project and align the team to work towards it. Skills include delegating, coaching, motivating, and leading by example.
Learning and development: Continuous improvement of both your own skills and those of your team. Assessment of skills and abilities, encouraging participation in learning activities and evaluating how learning is applied in the project environment.
Negotiation: Information analysis, decision making, establishment of the desired outcome and development of a strategy for negotiation along with understanding the optimal outcome of various options. Reach an agreement through the consensus of positions of both parties.
Organization effectiveness: Understand and apply people management policies and processes. Understanding corporate culture, organizational dynamics, and the people who work in it leads to getting the best out of your team.
Problem solving and decision making: Solve problems and solve problems that are a normal part of every project.
Professionalism and ethics: Demonstrated through knowledge, skills and behavior along with proper conduct and moral principles for the organization and project settings.
Integrity: Do what you say you are going to do. Build trust with the stakeholders involved and convey that they can be trusted on a day-to-day basis to do the right thing at the right time to keep the project successful and the Sponsor satisfied.
Self-control: Self-monitoring and self-management to ensure day-to-day stresses are addressed and work-life balance is maintained.
Teamwork: Creating a team atmosphere where the team believes that “we are all in this together” is a critical component to the success of the project.