What core competencies are you missing as a Project Manager?

In this first episode of Project Management Insights, I ask you to look at the core competencies you might be missing that will make a difference to you undertaking your role.  I talk about the interpersonal skills of leadership, team building, motivation, communication, influencing, decision making, political and cultural awareness and negotiation.

The aim is to get you to undertake a Strengths & Weaknesses assessment of these skills to understand which ones you need support with.

Then understand what Opportunities are available to you to improve those skills.

Finally, I ask you to look at which of these skills Threatens your ability to do your job well.


Podcast Script

  • Project Management training comes in two forms – the formal Prince2 and PMBOK training or the theory based courses at College’s or Universities
  • The methodology training really only focuses on the methods and the rules and processes behind using that methodology i.e. Prince2 or PMBOK
  • The College course and University courses focus on theoretical examples of project management, again which is about the methods used, or the outcomes.
  • These courses don’t focus on the soft skills, those interpersonal skills, that you need in order to manage or lead a team.
  • The key to good PMing is people management – so what sorts of skills do you need and do you understand where your own shortfalls are in these skills.
  • PMBOK talks about the interpersonal skills needed. I like this list.  For me, there are a lot of the key attributes of a strong manager if you have these skills.  Let’s look at the list:
    • Leadership
      • What does it take to be a ‘leader’? Do you feel that you have the ability to make hard decisions and be comfortable with the outcome, and by that I mean the team or team member’s response to your decision?  Are you able to take a group of people, or your whole project team on the journey of your project from start to finish, where it feels like you are walking side by side with them, supporting them, as well as leading the way. Showing them what is needed and why?
    • Team Building
      • Do you have the skills to manage building the cohesiveness required to have a teamwork at its best bringing together the diversity that exists within it? Are you able to deal with conflict in a team environment?  Would you know where there were trust issues lacking and how you could deal with them?
    • Motivation
      • What is motivation? Is it knowing when someone is loving what they are doing and are passionately getting on with it?  How do you deal with a team member that has no or low motivation on your team?  Do you understand what it takes to get them happier and doing their job right here right now for your project, even if there are no long-term gains for them that they see?
    • Communication
      • What sort of language do you use as a PM? Are you confrontation in the way that you speak with team members?  Is your language passive aggressive at times?  Do you get defensive and feel unsettled when someone questions you?
    • Influencing
      • How strong are your influencing skills? Do you feel confident influencing an outcome for your project?  Could you get something done that was a key part of your project based on your own ability to influence?  Do you give up if you can’t influence?
    • Decision Making
      • Are you capable of making a decision and feeling confident about it? Do you procrastinate?  Do you weigh up lots and lots of information and never seem to have enough, so don’t always make a decision?  Are there times when you leave the decision making to others and then reap the consequences when it wasn’t the best decision for your project?
    • Political and Cultural Awareness
      • How politically savvy are you? Do you have a good feel for the politics in your organisation/business area/project team broadly?  Are you aware of the cultural issues at play within the organisation that you work and how these impact on your ability to manage your project?
    • Negotiation
      • Are you a good negotiator? Do you get emotional when you negotiate?  Do you usually give in or are you the one who fights to the end for your way?  Do you understand the premise and context of good negotiation in order to create a win/win situation?
  • What other skills are you aware of that you are missing?
    • Do you have trouble with time management?
    • Do you get overwhelmed with your inbox and don’t how to manage the myriad of emails that flow into it?
    • Are you project team meetings as productive as they could be?
    • What happens to you when you don’t have the right level of project support that you want, in the form of a Project Co-ordinator or a Business Analyst?
    • How are your writing skills?  Do you feel comfortable sending out key messages relating to your project, especially to Senior Executives?
    • Are you confident putting together your project reporting?  Is this something that is completely out of your control and so you wouldn’t have the faintest clue how it’s done?
    • Do you have an idea of how to put together a really good quality business case?
  • The aim of these Project Management Insights is to support you to gain knowledge in key areas to help you perform your role in a better and easier way.
  • It is valuable that you consider for yourself how you work.  The best thing that you can do for yourself and your own growth is to consider where your weaknesses lie.  In doing that you can better manage not only how and where you gain skills to strengthen these areas, also how you can mitigate against this in your day to day work until such time as you gain that skill.
  • You might also notice that there are patterns in the way that you operate with others.  These are valuable to notice and capture.  Your patterns of behaviour are going to show you where you have areas that you may need to address.
  • Do an Analysis in each of these key areas to see where you might focus your knowledge building.
    • On the Project Management Insights website, I have placed a downloadable analysis template. This simple document has some prompts for you so that you can capture your strength areas and your weak spots.
    • I also suggest you look at the opportunities that you see. This is about where you could gain skills and knowledge in ways that you might not have considered.
    • Also to look at which areas threaten your ability to deliver a successful project every time?
  • What courses are available to gain those skills?
    • There are a number of places that offer courses to support you gaining some of these much-needed skills.
    • One of the things that I am developing based on my own experience and knowledge is short courses for PM’s. These will be built over time and support PMs wanting to strengthen their skills.  I have also sourced some free courses that you might also find valuable. The list on the site also contains some books that I have found really useful in gaining skills that I didn’t have in some of these key areas.
  • Each week I will be focusing on a new topic area, one of these key areas that I have highlighted today as the key to being a good PM and leader.

See you next week for more Project Management Insights.  Next week’s insights are ‘Tips for collaborating with your project team.’


Download the FREE SWOT Template to undertake your own Skills Assessment.