Project manager’s soft skills

pm soft skills

The skills required from project managers are manifold and among them we also find transversal skills, also called soft skills.

Soft skills help a project manager to understand different ways of thinking and to be able to make a heterogeneous group work together towards a common goal.

Transversal skills of a project manager are key to managing projects and people and often make a difference when it comes to retaining key talent, growing business or successfully completing one project after another.

Historically, organizations choose managers primarily according to their technical skills and proven training or certification and the extent of experience are the most common bases for hiring.

However, soft skills elevate hard skills beyond the constraints of merely training a project manager, the disciplines learned and personal beliefs.

So here are the 6 soft skills that are essential for the success of a project manager.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Leadership

Leadership is outlined in the PMBoK as “the capability of doing things through others.” In other words, it means inspiring people to do the work.

This is usually done by conveying the vision of the project and the value that team members will create by successfully completing the work.

This vision will lead to a holistic approach and team members will thus be able to understand their importance as individuals to achieve the common goal of the project.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Motivation

When people know that their work is making a difference – for stakeholders or even for themselves – then they remain motivated.

Ogni persona ha varie esigenze e obiettivi personali e professionali e questi devono essere soddisfatti.

For some people it might be financial compensation, for some it is a feeling of accomplishment by doing challenging work, for some it might be hierarchical growth and for others it might be official recognition of their hard work.

Knowing what motivates each of the team members and helping them achieve these things is a key task for the project manager to keep the motivation and morale of the team high.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Communication

Communication must be a two-way road: an open and honest channel from top to bottom as well as from bottom to top.

This means that when the project manager communicates transparently decisions and information, team members need to feel comfortable sharing their concerns, problems or even constructive suggestions with the manager.

Active open communication builds mutual trust between team members and also between the team and the project manager.

The project manager should then establish efficient channels of communication with each stakeholder, keep cultural differences in perspective and communicate information on a regular basis.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Active Listening

This is a communication technique in which the listener provides constant feedback to the speaker.

This way both the speaker and the listener ensure that the message has been communicated as intended and without misunderstanding.

To engage in active listening, the listener should overcome the impulse of wanting to speak immediately and instead focus on real understanding of what is being said by channeling his or her energies to re-transmit the communicated information in his or her own words.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Negotiation

soft skills of pm

Negotiation makes for good conflict resolution.

The project manager should make sure that they listen to both parties, make decisions fairly and justly, and communicate openly with both parties if problems of any kind arise during the project.

During the negotiation it is clear that it may not always be possible to please both parties.

A win-win situation for both sides is one where each side is able to compromise in order to reach a resolution.

Listening to and re-articulating the problem may highlight the presence of an intrinsic solution that neither side had been able to consider beforehand.

The important thing is that the project manager does not side with anyone, at least not from the beginning, and that the solution is objective and not biased.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Conflict management

Conflicts are part of any system, particularly when several individuals, different from each other, are involved.

Conflict management could easily be one of the key skills that a project manager needs to have in order to manage projects successfully.

There can be billions of reasons for conflict to emerge in the project team, for example:

  • Competition to obtain a poor resource,
  • Possible communication gaps,
  • Unclear requirements,
  • Personnel policies
  • Business environment

And more.

If well managed, a conflictual situation can even result in bringing people together and making them more focused on achieving the project’s objectives.

This all depends on a project manager’s ability to resolve a conflict of any kind.


So, the project manager through these – and many other – soft skills can create solutions, execute an objective plan to achieve results, build a team and manage a crisis when it occurs.

Successful project management requires more than just mastery of technical skills related to processes, structures and discipline; it requires a special set of skills to direct all resources towards a common goal.

By understanding the role of transversal skills and mastering relevant technical skills, it is possible to achieve improved profitability, less absenteeism and improved stakeholder relations.

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