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Soft skills for success

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Hard-to-measure project management skills are essential in the role. We look at three top qualities and chat to early professionals for tips.

All businesses constantly strive to be more efficient in how they operate across their various portfolios. Data accuracy and achieving project live status should enable business decisions to be made at the right time, whilst also driving the reduction of the overall risk profile.

But because data is often quantitative, aggregating an entire portfolio’s metrics can at times give a one-dimensional view. So it’s extremely important to challenge and apply further scrutiny so that all project and delivery areas across a portfolio are performing well individually, and to identify those specific areas that may require further support or incremental change.

One example of a hard-to-measure project area is the effectiveness derived from the quality of trust and the health of a relationship with key clients. How can you accurately measure this? CRM tools do start to measure these types of metrics but tend to be binary and not always exhaustive. We sometimes take for granted how a project manager has a significant responsibility to ensure that all stakeholders are satisfied and how to best achieve this.

The importance of soft skills

Delivery career pathways often focus on technical, leadership and behavioural competencies. But what brings these to the workplace are the soft skills and personality of a project professional, who can work effectively with all types of clients and stakeholders to solve complex problems and situations.

They need to have:

  1. A positive, can-do attitude. Delivering projects can be tiring and at times stressful. Balancing multiple tasks, solving client issues and keeping the team fully motivated and focused is sometimes not for the faint-hearted. It’s important that a project manager maintains their energy and embraces any challenges head-on. Applying their organisational skills while prioritising tasks should enable them to focus on the right tasks at the right time.
  2. The ability to work with different types of people. This is a complex space — there’ll often be varying ambitions in terms of the end-technical solution, individual commitment and availability. Balancing these needs must be done carefully so that everyone’s voice is heard. When appropriate, the right decision needs to be made and the group can successfully proceed to the next stage.
  3. The appetite to learn and grow. Each day on a project can present a fresh challenge and opportunity to learn something new. Project managers are often required to step in or deputise for someone to achieve a specific outcome. It’s worth noting few projects always go exactly to plan so being able to adapt, learn and embrace these types of challenges will hopefully ensure positive ongoing momentum is achieved.

These are the three key areas that a project manager needs to be effective in; however, the list does go on. Being a project manager is a dynamic role that comes with considerable responsibility. Identifying potential project management candidates of the future is exciting but it is important that we recognise in these people the potential skills and support required so that we nurture them to flourish within several delivery environments.

Meet the new professionals

How can early career project managers cultivate the necessary skills? A couple of our new starters give their advice on how they’ve demonstrated their appetite for success, helped by others and their own outlook.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have immensely supportive mentors throughout my developing career from day one, mentors who not only push appropriate training paths but also teach the way in which to carry out a project management role successfully and effectively from a personal and professional aspect. I think having the opportunity to go to someone with questions and not being afraid to ask anything is crucial to the development on an individual in any role,” says Bradley Dowle, Junior Project Manager.

Samina Rahman, Graduate Project Manager, says “I’m always keen to learn and as I begin my career journey, I enthusiastically seek opportunities to connect with new individuals. Their insights and experiences provide valuable perspectives that contribute to my personal and professional growth. Additionally, I perceive obstacles and issues as constructive challenges and opportunities to learn, embracing them with a positive mindset.”


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