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I know that this question depends a lot in the environment the Project Manager works in, but still want to know on the average, which skill/skill set that need to be focused more than others. To name a few skills that seems to be necessary:

  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Appraise employee
  • Estimate time/effort/cost
  • Proficient English
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12 Answers 12

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I agree with those who say that effective project managers should know project management skills. I also agree that knowing your domain, industry, and having some level of technical skills in your project's field will benefit you.

Beyond this, I would say the main skills you need are:

  • Effective communication: This would be THE skill if there was only one skill. This also includes people skills.
  • The ability to say "no:" Even to your sponsor. A project manager without this can quickly get into situations where they cannot deliver what they promised!
  • Delegation and the ability to assess team-members: Being able to identify experts and leverage them (eg. ask good estimators for time estimates) is more important than having those skills yourself. Delegation is a skill in itself.

Other than that, all your "usual" skills of knowing how to effectively manage (keep from getting out of control) your scope, schedule, resources, team, quality, etc.

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1  
+1 on effective communication -and remember, that means a lot of listening, more than talking. –  Mark Phillips Feb 9 '11 at 22:07
    
+1 for delegation. In my opinion, it's a hard skill to get. –  Hoàng Long Feb 10 '11 at 8:35
    
+1 for the ability to say NO. –  Tiago Cardoso Jan 13 '12 at 17:20
  1. Being Organized. You are the person who has to keep everything, and everyone, together.

  2. Leadership. There will be times when you'll need to get people moving in a direction they may not naturally head to or accept news/modify expectations they might not want to hear.

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+1 I would say actually being organized and structured. –  tucson Feb 11 '11 at 19:34

To your list I'd add:

  • Experience/Business domain knowledge - often the people you'll be managing will be specialists in a technical field. The PM needs to be able to communicate with them, and with the business users and stakeholders.
  • Networking skills - You'll need to have contacts in various groups within your organization.
  • Leadership - You need to demonstrate that you can direct others to complete a set of tasks.
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You mention "proficient English". If this were about programming, I'd say "oh yes". But this is project management, which is much more prople oriented and less (or not at all) computer oriented. Therefore I don't see the need to speak or understand English.

You will need to speak and understand the language or languages of your project team, of course, be them English or whatever. I don't think English has any special status in project management (as opposed to programming, where it does).

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If it was so easy that it needed one skill only, it wouldn't be fun. :)

The biggest help in my experience is having solid people management skills. The technical stuff is very important, but you can learn that easily. Knowing how to do the latest in project management techniques will not make for a successful project if the PM can't get people to do what it takes to get the project done.

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  • Communication skills: The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said. - Peter Drucker
  • Leadership skills: Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing. - Peter Drucker
  • Organized
  • Resourceful: No one person will have all the answers, but if one is resourceful, she will know how to get the answer. A resourceful person will have many tools in her toolbox (knowledge of PMI best practices, Agile methodologies, etc.) but more importantly knows which tools to select and apply in a given situation.
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Risk Identification, Analysis and Mitigation planning is also important for project manager.

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I would add "People skills" to your list.

It's not a requirement but one of the main roles of a project manager is to actually talk to the client. Good relationships, specially making the client trust you.

Another good skill in the same direction is the ability to say NO when is needed.

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Project Management Skill: This will include everything from Communication and Integration (amongst various project constraints like Time, Cost, Scope etc) Skills to Networking and people skills Domain Knowledge: This would include knowledge acquired about the Industry of your project in general and domain specific knowledge in general Personal Characteristics: A lot will depend upon the personal style of individual here. Keeping a balanced state of mind at all the time, specially during touch situations is of paramount importance here. Other skills include leadership and motivation skills

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Using the skills described in the other answers (technical ability, leadership, communication, organisational), a project manager must have the ability to focus on the goal of the project, and keep all of the project team also focussed on that goal until it is delivered.

This would also include a belief in delivering a product of good to high quality (and using this as motivation for the project team).

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How about PMBOK?

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3  
PMBOK is not a skill; it's a book describing a framework. Yes, it does touch upon a few skills though. –  ashes999 Feb 8 '11 at 16:25
  • Effective Communication

    That is to concisely deliver message in different ways to different people at the beginning and add details and background in a logical manner so that even a dummy can understand your meaning. It does not necessarily to present like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Just to be natural to speak and be sophisticated to think before you speak. Especially in the phase of discussion, just to initiate them or to add details above their speech. At the phase of decision making, provide some options with pros and cons. If they are active and listening, initiate them to vote. Or else, you make decision.

  • Interpersonal Skills for Management

    That is how to interact with people with different expertise. There is a motto saying that Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing. But, you should always remember you are manager that how to arrange tasks according to your sub-coordinates. This is extremely important because you have have wider time-frames to execute your expertise of project management .Never do the task for a long time even your have strong technical background or related experience. Otherwise, it is your project not the team's project.

  • Be objective

It can be presented in macroscopic manner and microscopic manner.

Microscopic view:

Very often, some members cannot delivery work on time. Never blame them at the first time. There must be a root cause for that. Find out the root cause and provide guidance. If it is related to personal matters, chat with them separately to know more.

Macroscopic view:

Sometimes, the business requirement is not always confirmed and become solid. As a manager, it is time to interfere the task which BA or Sales is involved. Since the tasks of project is attributed by the business requirement, project manager shall shoulder (part of) the responsibilities.

  • Keep on Anticipating the process and execute practice for project risk management

As I have mentioned, the time frame compromised among the team members and stakeholders cannot be met sometimes. It is expected for the project manager to to use tools or models to anticipate the risk involved in the project and take actions.

Create a risk matrix first to summarize a list of possible project risk to occur in general.

Always prioritize the project risk and deal with the one with the highest risk first and so on. Although the level of risk cannot be objectively quantified in terms of scientific manner, we can consider it as the product of potential consequences of catastrophic events contributed by the project risk and the remaining time frame to deal with that . If the time frame is small , deal with them first.

The rest depends on the project we have taken. If it is familiar to your or your teammates expertise, encourage them to give guidance. If not, provide a time frame to carry out research and uphold regular meetings to share the technologies they have learnt.

One more thing I want to add is that there is a rising trend of using Agile Methodologies for adopting the practice of software development process, or so-called Application life-cycle management. It can be attributed by the fast advance of technologies and widespread of social networks. These can give rise to great availability for us to communicate each other. More importantly, as our age grows , our learning capabilities will eventually drop. Agile Methodologies can provide instant feedback and modification to develop the software. During the phase on iteration and daily, the senior can provide teaching to the junior with prototypes at the beginning so as to get their learning curve smooth.

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