How To Improve Project Management Skills (With Additional Tips)

Updated June 24, 2022

For most organizations, having an individual in charge of managing projects is a benefit that helps the project continue to meet goals and follow the established production schedule. Project managers are usually a desired position for many companies that regularly complete projects, which can range from expanding a product line to building a new mobile application for customers. If you are a project manager or interested in becoming one, it's important to have a strong set of skills to help you handle your responsibilities.

In this article, we explain what project management skills are and why they're important and provide a list of steps you can take to improve your own project management skills in the workplace.

Related: Learn About Being a Project Manager

What are project management skills?

Project management skills are the abilities you have to oversee a project while staying within scope, on schedule and following a budget. Although some project management skills may come naturally to you, there are others you can learn and develop so that you become a stronger project manager and can help your team achieve production goals. Some project management skills include:

  • Leadership

  • Time management

  • Organization

  • Scheduling

  • Delegating

  • Communication

  • Risk management

  • Research

  • Critical thinking

  • Attention to detail

  • Patience

  • Quality management

Why are project management skills important?

Project management skills are important because they help you direct projects in a way that's productive for the company you work for and the team that's supporting the project. Your skills can help your team be accountable, motivated, productive, resourceful and proud of their work.

Related: How To Become a Project Manager (Steps and FAQs)

How to improve project management skills

If you're interested in improving your own project management skills, here are some steps you can take:

1. Complete training courses

You can sign up for training classes, including seminars, webinars and conferences, to enhance your project management abilities. Seek those courses that focus on various aspects of project management or offer training in a particular skill you need help to develop.

2. Ask for feedback

Remain open to feedback from your team so that you can improve your project management skills. Since you're responsible for delegating tasks, explaining the project terms and keeping the team on schedule, it's important that you do so in a way that your team responds to. You can ask for their feedback upon project completion, but consider asking at regular intervals during the project too. Feedback from clients can also be beneficial.

3. Study project management methodologies

There are various project management methodologies you may adopt depending on your skills, the structure of the workplace and the project teams you'll work with. Explore them to choose one that will support your current skills and give you the space to build new ones.

Read more: Agile vs. Waterfall: Which Method Is Right for You?

4. Job shadow other project managers

You can also build your skills simply by job shadowing other project managers who have found success in their fields. If there are project managers you work with, ask if you can see what they do in a day. You can also join professional groups for project managers where you connect with others you can shadow for a workday. In either case, you can adopt the methods and skills you notice from these project managers and apply them to your own work.

5. Sign up for content from professionals in the field

There are project management blogs, articles, podcasts and other forms of content that successful project managers produce. The more you read and listen to this content, the more you may be able to keep up with the trends in project management that can make you a better project manager. Varying points of view can also help you develop your critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.

6. Incorporate team-building exercises

Team-building exercises can improve professional relationships between coworkers, which can help you improve your work as a project manager. When individuals on your team naturally get along and understand each other, they are more likely to collaborate, come up with creative solutions and support your work as project manager.

Related: 30 Team-Building Ideas for the Workplace

7. Track your time

Tracking your time can help you build the important project management skill of time management. You can come to realize where you spend your time, and you'll probably be better able to analyze your workday and discover where you can adjust your time. Analyzing your own time management can help you manage the time of others during a project and realize if a project isn't following an established schedule.

8. Use templates

You can probably find several templates for project managers that you can use for your own work. Use templates that support your work and help you excel in the role. Because many of these templates serve as a guide, you may find that you spend less time on a certain task, leaving you better able to develop other skills.

Related: Project Manager Skills: Definition and Examples

Tips for effective project management

To ensure you're an effective project manager, consider these tips:

  • Set realistic expectations. Everyone involved in the project may be better able to focus on the project when they are aware of expectations. You can also set expectations for when your team or the client should expect to hear from you after they've contacted you.

  • Use project management tools. Project management tools can help you stay on track, but with many of them, you can also share project updates and assign tasks to members of your team, among other features. Consider ones that integrate with other applications you use, like a group calendar, that will help support the project.

  • Encourage accountability. In a project, all team members are relying on each other to make sure the project is completed on time, within budget and to any specifications. Encourage your team to hold each other accountable to complete work by the deadline and to the best of their ability for the sake of the project.

  • Build a detailed schedule. It's important for any member of the team, including project stakeholders, to be able to easily view the project schedule and understand what phase the project is in. Keep a detailed schedule that includes a proposed timeline, any employee work schedules, the next steps for the project and set deadlines.

  • Organize files. Develop a system that makes it easy to store, save and share files. You can make an organized system for both physical and digital files by color coding, naming files appropriately or using cloud-based applications.

  • Develop a communication plan. Communication is a crucial part of any successful project team, so establish how you'll communicate with clients and your team, and set those expectations ahead of time. You may choose a weekly email or decide to meet in person each morning to discuss the day ahead.

  • Address problems and mistakes. For most projects, problems and mistakes can happen. It's important to address any issues as soon as you notice them, and encourage your team to admit to mistakes when they make them. The open communication and comfort that comes with accepting mistakes can help a team propose solutions when things don't go as planned.

  • Debrief after a project. In your debrief, you can discuss what worked in the project and what you can improve for the next project. You can also gather additional feedback on your role as a project manager.

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