Guide to Honing Your Soft Skills as a Project Manager
written by: Ginny Edwards
• edited by: Jean Scheid
• updated: 10/31/2011
Have you been thinking about employing a different, softer, and more inclusive approach to project management? Here you can find the latest information and advice to help you explore your softer self and hone your interpersonal and leadership skills to improve your working relationships.
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Soft skills focus on managing people instead of work schedules and assignments. They offer flexibility in dealing with a variety of work situations—-good and bad. If you have ever given a pat on the back for a job well done or a stern reprimand to a wayward employee, then you have tapped into your set of soft skills. As you can see, these skills can help with many managerial problems and issues. Here we have collected an array of resources to help both the novice and the seasoned manager perfect their soft skills to achieve maximum performance for themselves and their team.
Being a well-rounded project manager means you need to have a good blend of hard skills and soft skills. Think you know the difference between hard skills and soft skills? You may be surprised. Find out with this A-Z guide on the qualifications of the project managers to see how your skills compare.
Heredity versus environment -- it is the age-old question. Find out here whether soft skills are simply a matter of your genetic makeup or a product of your environment. Join in on the debate on whether soft skills can be taught like the math or science courses you took in school.
You have decided to work on your softer side. How do you begin? Identifying which areas to focus on is the first step to developing an action plan. Here are a few ideas on what to include in your plan that will enable you to become more proficient in communication, leadership, team management, stress management, coaching, and mentoring.
When people think of soft skills they usually think of interpersonal skills, but interpersonal skills cover a lot of territory. Learn how soft skills fit under the umbrella of interpersonal skills in this article that explores why interpersonal skills are essential for project managers. See how your leadership style, fairness standards, and teaching skills can affect how well you interact with others.
You can have the most impact on an employee's career by becoming their mentor, but mentoring is hard work and involves many responsibilities. Mentoring is easier with the right soft skills that enable you to have positive one-on-one communications with your mentee.
In addition to one-on-one communication skills, a project manager needs to understand team dynamics and how to navigate group communication hurdles. A manager can't stick his or her head in the sand like an ostrich and hope that the problems resolve themselves. Learn how to become more proactive with these communication protocols before the group becomes sidetracked or unruly.
It is difficult sometimes to deal with one troublesome employee. What do you do when the whole team starts bickering and ends up missing important deadlines? Just like a game of chess there are strategies and techniques that will help you resolve workplace conflict and escape checkmate when there appears no solution in sight.
Learning how to work with individuals and groups is only part of the communication package. You also have to know how to tailor your communication to meet the different needs of various stakeholders. Get the essentials on what they need to know, how you should communicate with them, and how often you should send them information.
The benefits of a culturally diverse workplace do not occur without cultural awareness and diversity training. As a project manager, you may be expected to set an example among your team. Having cultural knowledge or familiarization about the culture is not enough. Learn techniques to foster cultural sensitivity through changing attitudes and values of the members of your team.
How do you treat your star employees? To keep people motivated you need to acknowledge and celebrate their outstanding performances. Find out more on how you can recognize your overachievers while motivating others to follow in their footsteps.
Tapping into your new-found soft skills doesn't mean you have to be a pushover. When the situation gets tough and requires a firm hand, soft skills can also help lessen the blow. For example, you have an employee that has fallen on difficult times and is dealing with some health issues. Naturally your heart goes out to them. But as a manager you need to set your sympathies and emotions aside to enforce sick leave policies. Get some pointers on how to be soft but firm at the same time.
As a project leader, your verbal and nonverbal communication affect the business culture in more ways than you realize. To maintain a culture of mutual trust, respect and honesty, the manager must set a good example and emphasize the core values of the company. Are you prepared to walk the talk with your words and actions?
Negotiation requires superior communication skills and an acute awareness of how people behave in the negotiation process. If you want to turn your encounters into more win-win outcomes take a look at these real life cases of effective and ineffective negotiation processes. Don't make these same mistakes.
Do you work in a technical field, such as engineering or computer programming and wonder if soft skills are really necessary in your line of work? Here you will discover why soft skills are important for technicians and how they complement technical and knowledge skills to drive performance. While addressing engineers in particular, this article offers advice that can be used by managers in other technical and nontechnical fields.
Even with all your new-found knowledge, there could still be obstacles that are holding you back. Are there forces underfoot that are stopping you from taking the next step and getting the skills training you need? To see if there may be some barriers that might impede your personal growth and development check out this article on some of the most common saboteurs to our success.
Have a question about soft skills and how to develop them not found in our guide? If so, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to find the answers you seek!