Interpersonal Skills Necessary for a Project Manager
A project manager in-charge of executing a project works in unison with a set of team members. The project manager does not and cannot work alone. In such a scenario, the project manager needs a variety of interpersonal skills to be compatible with people and also achieve results.
The various interpersonal skills that a project manager needs as mentioned in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) are as follows.
1. Leadership: A project manager must be able to influence team members and motivate them to complete tasks. The project manager is able to get the aid or support of resources to accomplish a mission. A perfect leader will employ a combination of authoritative, delegative and participative leadership styles.
2. Team Building: The project manager must be available during all stages of team development such as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. The project manager must be able to hire and utilize a team with diverse skillsets during all stages of a project.
3. Motivation: The project manager can use the carrot or stick approach to motivate team members. The project manager must understand that individual motivations to perform well vary and thus every team member requires a different approach. "Different strokes for different folks" is the norm. The manager can apply the knowledge of various motivational theories such as Maslow's Theory, McGregor's Theory, Vrooms's Theory and many more.
4. Communication: The project manager has to be skilled in verbal, non-verbal, and written communications. The project manager must always make sure that the 'context' for communication is maintained.
5. Decision Making: In the modern workplace, having a consensus in the decision-making process is the best method to solve a problem. The various risks involved can be discussed with the team. The project manager can initiate brainstorming to gather ideas before making the decision. The values that are important to the team must also be considered.
6. Political Awareness: A Project Manager must be able to navigate the political atmosphere in the organization and must be able to bend or use the political climate to suit the project execution and completion.
7. Cultural Awareness: Present-day project managers must work in global work environments. The organizational climate of every organization is unique. Due to this cultural shift in work environments, it is necessary for a project manager to provide an inclusive environment.
8. Negotiation: A project manager must be able to negotiate with external customers as well as internal stakeholders. Project managers have to negotiate to achieve results when resources are scarce or limited.
9. Trust Building: A project manager must conduct themselves in a certain manner, so that their team members respect and trust. Keeping to their commitments and promises, delivering what has been agreed upon, and meeting deadlines will help to build trust with both internal and external stakeholders.
10. Conflict Management: It is natural that conflicts arise when executing a project. Clashes over timelines, budgets, and resources can lead to conflict. There can be conflicts in ideas, methods, and techniques used to execute projects. It is the duty of the project manager to manage conflicts and solve them.
11. Coaching: Coaching and mentoring will be a crucial role for a project manager. Some team members may have talents that have to be brought to the forefront. Other team members may need coaching in soft skills also. Coaching is an important interpersonal skill for a project manager.
12. Influencing: The amount of power the project manager has and the extent to which one can influence the project is a very important factor. The authority over subject and soft skills used for smooth working relationships have a great effect on individual or team influence.
Having well-rounded interpersonal skills allows a Project Manager to better perform as a leader of the Project Team. This topic is covered in PMBOK Guide for Project Manager Certification preparation.