How to Improve Project Management Skills in 9 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 December 2022

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project managers are important professionals who can work in a variety of industries. It's often a highly sought-after position, and the role comes with many responsibilities. If you're considering a career as a project manager, it might be beneficial to understand the key skills often required. In this article, we look at how to improve project management skills, discuss which skills might be considered important and explain why they're important.

What are project management skills?

Some important project management skills include:

  • Communication and negotiation: These skills might include your ability to listen, develop strategies and take part in conversations. They might also help ensure employees understand their roles and tasks.

  • Strong attention to detail: This might help a project manager notice little details and find obstacles or mistakes in the project plan at an earlier stage. Attention to detail can also help project managers observe and assess their team members' morale.

  • Ability to work autonomously: Working autonomously gives project managers the freedom to act independently. It might involve planning projects, writing budgets, setting goals and creating a strategy for your team to achieve objectives.

  • Critical thinking: This involves the action of observing before speaking or deciding. Critical thinking might involve the project manager evaluating and incorporating facts before responding or deciding, which might allow the ability to develop informed and timely problem solutions.

  • Problem-solving: After carefully observing an obstacle, project managers may use problem-solving skills to create solutions. For example, if they notice the project costs exceed the budget, they may use problem-solving to find ways to lower the expenses.

  • Strong time management and organisation skills: A successful project manager career may often incorporate strong time management and organisation skills. These skills allow a manager to plan and use all available resources, aiding them in accomplishing high-quality and on-schedule projects.

  • Leadership skills: Project managers can use leadership skills to inspire their team members. These skills can help them delegate effectively, give feedback and motivate others.

  • Ability to multi-task: This is a skill that allows a manager to complete multiple tasks at once, whilst remaining detail-orientated and on schedule. Multi-tasking skills can create efficient work environments and save time because of the ability to concurrently complete tasks.

  • Accurate budgeting and planning: Planning skills include creating a schedule for a project, planning material deliveries and establishing employee time frames. Budgeting includes setting an estimated budget for a project and successfully tracking the spending and expenses throughout the project.

Related: Transferable Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to improve project management skills

Learning how to improve project management skills may help you succeed in a project manager role. Here are some steps to help you improve your relevant skills:

1. Complete training courses

You can sign up for training and upskilling classes, including online and practical courses and qualifications to enhance your project management abilities. There might be some government-funded courses available that are easily found by doing an internet search. Look for courses that focus on various aspects of project management or offer training in a particular skill you need help to develop. If there's a specific skill that you feel you want to develop or improve on, you might find it helpful to create yourself a learning goal and choose your upskilling courses based on that goal.

Related: Key Project Management Skills and How to Develop Them

2. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback can be an excellent way to identify the skills you need to improve on. Since you're responsible for delegating tasks, explaining the project terms and keeping the team on schedule, it's essential that you do so in a way that your team can respond to accordingly. You can ask for their feedback upon project completion but consider asking at regular intervals during the project too. Feedback from clients and company leaders can also be beneficial.

Related: 10 Examples of Positive Manager Behaviour (With Benefits)

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 may work with. You can research the methodologies available and explore the components of each one. This might help you choose one that may support your current skills and give you the space to build new ones. Methodologies may help you repeat successful components for each project and develop new strategies for any components that might have room for improvement. It can also be useful for improving the efficiency of your project management.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Job shadow 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 other project managers you work with, ask if you can see what they do during the day. You might also join professional groups for project managers, where you can connect with others that you could potentially shadow for a workday. In either case, you might observe the methods and skills these project managers use 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 might keep up with the trends in project management. It might be helpful to understand various professional methods and skills considered useful, as this can help you in adopting alternative approaches and developing your own methods. 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 co-workers, which can help you improve your work as a project manager. There are various exercises and games designed to help with team building. Most exercises include aspects to help develop team communication, trust, collaboration and motivation. You can many ideas for team-building exercises by searching them online, or you might ask your team if they have some suggestions. When individuals on your team naturally get along and understand each other, they're more likely to collaborate, come up with creative solutions and work hard.

Related: The Benefits of Corporate Team-Building Games

7. Track your time

Tracking your time can help you build the important project management skill of time management. Analysing your time management skills can help you manage the time of others during a project and find out if a project is sticking to an established schedule. You might begin tracking your time by keeping a detailed planner, estimating how long each task may take and then actually timing how long you spend on that task. This may help you better estimate each task's time frame for your next project and, therefore, manage your time more accurately.

8. Use templates

You can find several templates for project managers which are designed for you to customise to your own work. You might find these templates online or within project management software. 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 more room to develop other skills.

9. Use management software tools

Project management software tools can help you stay on track and on time. They often include features such as project planning, task management, time and budget management, resource management and document filing and storage. Many software management tools may also present the opportunity to communicate with your team and client, helping to keep everyone informed on the progress of the project. Consider tools that integrate with other applications you use, like a group calendar, that may help support the project.

Why are project management skills important?

As a project manager, these skills are important because they can help you increase and maintain productivity. They're likely to help you reach maximum productivity whilst remaining within budget. Improving these skills may aid you in relieving the pressure from certain projects and achieving an acceptable work-life balance.

Accomplishing a higher quality of work and producing more consistent projects can help to instil motivation and creation for not only a project manager but also their entire team. The improvement of some of these skills might result in clearing up schedules and enjoying more free time, which could be useful for education or skill-building exercises.

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