How to Improve Your Project Management Skills
Project management requires a diverse skill set, from communication to team leadership to technical planning and reporting. But how can you improve your project management skills? Earning or renewing a project management certificate is one way, but there are many other opportunities to hone your project management skills for even greater success on the job.
- Tap into your network of subject matter experts and resources and ask them for any tips they can share
- Research past projects in your company’s knowledge database
- Speak with other project managers about their best practices
- Read resources on project management skills, such as those published by the Project Management Institute or the Wrike blog
Common areas for improvement
One of the primary — and most important — responsibilities of a project manager is to communicate clearly and effectively with all stakeholders and team members. Come up with a consistent communication plan for your project, identify all those who need to stay up to date, and plan various methods of reaching them. These could be:
- Group meetings
- One-on-one meetings
- Status reports
- An open-door policy or “office hours” to discuss issues
Be sure to manage expectations by immediately addressing any problems or concerns that arise. Present your stakeholders with an action plan for how you’ll handle any issues.
Now is the time to nurture your relationships with your team members and upper management. You’ll need buy-in from all involved to move forward smoothly and troubleshoot when necessary. Create a working environment where stakeholders are comfortable speaking with you and feel that they’re being heard, acknowledged, and appreciated. This means being approachable, accessible, and transparent. And don’t stress about grand gestures — a simple coffee or lunch can go a long way.
As a project manager, you’re responsible for making sure the project is delivered on time and budget. To improve your skills in this area, make sure your team is using standardized time tracking and schedule templates so everything is transparent and everyone understands how they fit into the big picture. Keeping track of team members’ time also lets you ascertain how long each task takes, allowing you to allocate resources better. Pay close attention to the hand-off points at each stage of the project, as those areas tend to have the most opportunity for delays or errors. Check in regularly during those periods to ensure smooth transitions and steady forward progress.
Take the time to learn about your team members. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses to ensure they’re assigned to the most appropriate tasks for their skill sets. Inspire and motivate them to new levels of productivity and success. Thank them for their hard work and consider implementing rewards for small team wins.
Even the best project managers don’t do it alone. Identify areas in need of improvement within your processes and procedures and invest in the right tools to fill the gaps. Using the right project management tool can save you time, provide visibility through status reports, and help manage workflows.