How To Gain Greater Success With Soft Skills As A Project Manager

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As a project manager, you have to manage a lot more than the given project in itself. Besides the project, you also need to manage your team’s motivation and consistency. Your team members may have certain discords between them with respect to the project. Moreover, it may so happen that your team members may feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. For obvious reasons, you cannot let these factors interfere with the flow of work. 

You have to manage each of your team members and their contribution to the project. Having said that, there is a set of essential skills for project managers that you need to exhibit. 

As we know, we can classify professional skills into hard skills and soft skills. 

Both skillsets hold immense importance in terms of professional success and advancement. However, in recent years, the corporate realm has undergone some paradigm shifts. The prerequisites of professional success are a lot different than what they were 5 years ago. In contemporary times, soft skills are gaining far more purchase and vitality over hard skills. 

This can be validated by the findings of the Stanford Research Center and Harvard University. It states that soft skills account for a gigantic 85% of professional success. On the other hand, the contribution of hard skills is a mere 15%. To add, a paper by Mckinsey and Microsoft presents the idea that around 40% of future employment will be centered around social-emotional skills. 

These insights give you a clear picture of the significance of soft skills in the contemporary corporate world and the times to come. From employability to career advancement, soft skills are becoming indispensable at all levels. Besides, the imperativeness of soft skills is far greater for people in managerial positions. Soft skills in innumerable ways are synonymous with people skills or social skills that you always desire as a manager. 

Your credibility in terms of your soft skills will determine the horizon of your success. In simple terms, soft skills hold the key to great team management and delivering exceptional outcomes. Furthermore, let us try to figure out the core reason why soft skills are ruling the world. 

Why Are Soft Skills Vital In The Changing World?

Do you think automation might completely replace humans one day? From driverless cars to the Internet of Things, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the entire landscape. We are undergoing an astounding digital revolution that only grows bigger each day. Having said that, most technical skills or hard skills in the workplace are now being replaced by massive automation. Machines can do most of your technical work in a much faster and error-free way. 

However, no matter how big automation gets, AI cannot replace soft skills. AI can never be a replacement for the social and emotional skills that humans have. On the contrary, machine learning can replace your technical skills with better outcomes and efficiency. This little fact sums up the entire scenario of why soft skills are becoming more desirable.

As mentioned earlier, the desirability of soft skills is much greater in managerial roles. Moving ahead, the subsequent section highlights the requisite soft skills for project managers. These skills can be the underlying difference in the scope of success you gain as a project manager. 

ESSENTIAL SOFT SKILLS FOR PROJECT MANAGERS

1. LEADERSHIP SKILLS 

Every manager has leadership obligations to deliver on. As a project manager, you will lead teams frequently in all these times. At times, things will go as intended and sometimes they will not. In fact, there may be times when the entire project finds itself in a crisis or battling unprecedented delays. In all such situations, your leadership will be under scrutiny. 

Besides, at times, your team members may struggle for motivation or clarity of purpose. In all these times, you have to lead them by example and steer the team to delivering a given project with excellence. Having said that, for project managers, leadership is a tacit prerequisite. Your strength as a leader will define the morale of the entire team. To add, you will have to be accountable for things that go wrong and share the credits when the team does great work. 

Hence, you need to hone your leadership skills to acclaim exceptional success in project management. Your leadership traits will lead your team to do everything right with integrity and great enthusiasm. There are innumerable virtues you need to model for them as a leader. You need to develop a charismatic and inspiring leader inside you!

2. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT 

Conflicts in the workplace or within teams are quite common. Of course, when you have a diverse team, there will be different perspectives on the floor. At times, these varying opinions may also be opposed to each other. While some conflicts can be healthy, others can get ugly and disrupt the balance within a team. In the ultimate sense, these disputes among team members will affect the project. 

Having said that, you need smart conflict management and negotiation skills. You need to handle conflicts with patience and give both parties a chance to explain themselves. After critically analyzing their submissions, you then need to resolve the conflict. The real challenge is to resolve a conflict in a reassuring and time-efficient manner. This will require impressive conflict management, negotiation, and critical thinking skills

If conflicts go unaddressed, the efficiency of your team will be on a decline. That can put both the project and your career in jeopardy. You cannot always prevent conflicts within your team. Sometimes conflicts are inevitable and you cannot guard your team against them. However, how you manage and resolve those conflicts is of utmost importance.

3. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ)

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a top-notch soft skill in contemporary times. It defines your ability to manage and positively control your emotions to make effective decisions and drive progressive changes. Moreover, it also takes into account how you influence others’ emotions and feelings to steer their actions in a positive direction. It is hence self-explanatory that this is a must-have skill for project managers in this new corporate world. 

Being a leader, you need to drive your team’s emotions in a way that they are in the best interest of the project. You need to assist them in looking beyond their negative emotions to meet their work commitments on time. Needless to say, each employee’s role is crucial in the delivery of the project before the deadline. 

EQ in itself is a vast phenomenon and it includes these components:

  • Self-Awareness 
  • Self-Regulation 
  • Empathy 
  • Social Skills 
  • Motivation 

As you can see, there is much more to EQ than the ability to positively handle emotions. It also incorporates greater self-awareness into your personality. You will have considerable awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, and feelings, when you take up a project. Besides, when you develop high EQ, you will have a more empowered sense of motivation inside you. 

You can channelize this amplified motivation to add value to project results. It is interesting to note that EQ is outweighing the importance of IQ for most business organizations. Make sure you catch up with the pace of this overhaul! Remember, project tracking software cannot do what your EQ can! 

4. TRUST-BUILDING 

Trust-building and team-building are skills that are quintessential for all managers. As a manager, you need to win the trust of your team members so that there is a strong connection. Moreover, you also need to foster trust among team members so that they work together in a coordinated and trustful manner. Needless to say, if team members do not trust each other enough, there will be a consistent hindrance in collaboration. Collaboration in itself is a requisite workplace skill and ineffective collaboration can lead to failures. 

In fact, as per McKinsey, 97% of corporate employees opine that uncoordinated alignment within teams can be a key reason for unsuccessful projects. As a project manager, you do not want that to happen. Your competence as a project manager will be measured in terms of the successful projects you deliver. Having said that, it is important that you work on your trust-building skills. Otherwise, in the absence of real connection within team members, teams will often underachieve. Being the captain, the accountability will be fixed on you!

5. ADAPTABILITY AND RESILIENCE

There may be a few challenges that may emerge in the course of a given project. Some of these challenges may even seem insurmountable at the onset. However, good and strong project managers are resilient to challenges and determined to find a way out. You would not give up on a project because the challenges seem too big, would you? You rather need to have the resilience to not lose your conviction because of any hindrances. Your resilience will be a benchmark for your team. 

Besides, you need the adaptability and flexibility to find new ways of getting around a problem. At times you may be required to innovate and go out of the way to fix an issue. For that, you need to embrace the virtues of adaptability and flexibility. But first, you need to build these traits inside you. Also, there may be some paradigm changes in work cultures in the years to come. It will require agile adaptability to align your working style with the concurrent trends. 

6. EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Effective communication leads to great outcomes in the professional world. This is a fact that is well known to us and we do understand its relevance as well. You would have often heard that communication is the key. It indeed is and for project managers, communication skills are the most imperative soft skills. You have to exhibit communication skills of the highest class and foster the same within your team. 

Moreover, you need to communicate goals to your team in a proficient manner each day. Also, you need to make sure that you convey their respective responsibilities and other instructions pertaining to the project in an effective way. Having said that, you need excellent communication skills to ensure that everything is communicated well and nothing is left to chance. 

The following are some crucial statistics on professional communications that you should know.

*As per CMS Wire, 97% of workers report that communication affects their everyday tasks. 

*As cited by Expert Market, 28% of corporate workers cite ineffective communication as the primary reason for missing their deadlines. 

*According to Think Talent, teams can perform 3.5 times better with strong and effective communication programs. 

As you can see, efficiency and performance revolve around the idea of good communication. As a manager, you have to portray exceptional communication skills. Communication and collaboration are complementary to each other. 

Besides, times are changing swiftly given the large scale digitalization and automation in the corporate world. In contemporary times of remote jobs and remote projects, you also need to ensure effective digital communication skills.

7. BEING RECEPTIVE TO FEEDBACK

Are you receptive to feedback shared by your superiors? Also, do you make it a point to seek feedback from your team members? Not everyone has the ability to value and constructively learn from feedback effectively pertaining to the project. Given that, it will not be incorrect to say that being receptive to feedback is a soft skill indeed. 

You should be open to feedback on project specifications from your seniors. Besides, you should also welcome feedback from your team members about the ways in which the quality and processes of projects can be optimized. Both ways, you gain valuable insights that you can incorporate to exceed the client’s expectations from a project. 

In this way, you can ensure that you keep improving with every project as you inculcate recommendations and feedback. The more willing you are to accept feedback the better will be your learning and development. Your learning is something that you want to keep continuous as it is salient to your career advancement. Your receptiveness to feedback can, in fact, be a great competitive advantage. 

CONCLUSION

The new-age corporate world has redefined expectations from project managers. While the technical skills are being taken over by AI, the larger emphasis of these expectations is on soft skills. 

People management and change management are key components of project management. Given that, you need to make sure that you inculcate enough soft skills into your personality to streamline your career advancement. Mastering the above soft skills should be your top priority. 

About the Author: Jessica Robinson is an educational writer, and has even penned down many motivational blogs for various websites. She spills the magic of her thoughts through her blog “The Speaking Polymath”, in which she makes the reader experience her management proficiency along with her skill to resolve matters of global importance.

Email: jessica@thespeakingpolymath.com 

Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-robinson10/ 

Twitter Profile: https://www.twitter.com/jessicarobss 

Blog: https://www.assignmenthelp4me.com/thespeakingpolymath 

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