Project Manager Interpersonal Skills

To be an effective project manager (PM), in addition to technical skills, strong interpersonal skills are required. Some interpersonal skills that a PM needs are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Team building
  3. Motivation
  4. Communication
  5. Influencing
  6. Decision making
  7. Political and cultural awareness
  8. Negotiations

Leadership is the ability to get work done through others, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Since PM’s themselves generally don’t do technical work, they need engineers to implement the design that was agreed upon. PMBOK says “Leadership involves focussing the efforts of a group of people toward a common goal and enabling them to work as a team”

Team building consists of improving communication, conflict management, motivation and leadership. An effective team has mutual trust. A PM should be a leader in team building by establishing a culture of openness and trust.  Individuals should not be blamed, instead a PM should try to work with the team to find solutions to problems.

Motivation relates to job satisfaction, achievement, growth and recognition. People have different ideas of what satisfaction means to them in a job. For some folks it is flexible hours, for others it is compensation. A PM should find what motivates the team and ensure that morale stays high.

Communication is essential for a successful project. Communication to stakeholders, and to all parties involved is a must. There should be frequent updates available in an easy to understand format. There are different communication styles for different individuals. Some of the communication styles are directive, collaborative, logical, explorer.

Influencing is how you co-operate with others to complete a common goal. It is how you can get your point across to others and make them champion your cause.

Decision making is of the following types, command, consolation, consensus, and coin flip. It is the process of getting different team members to agree on a path forward.

Political and Cultural Awareness calls for understanding the norms of doing business.

Negotiation is the art of coming to terms where there are different views. According to the PMBOK, effective negotiations is based on:

  • Analyzing the situation
  • Differentiating between wants and needs
  • Focussing on interests and issues rather than on positions
  • Ask high and offer low, but be realistic
  • When you make a concession, act as if you are yielding something of value, don’t just give in
  • Always make sure both parties feel as if they have won
  • Do a good job in listening and articulating