Understanding the Need for Soft Skills

Gantt charts, spreadsheets, organization charts, and scorecards are all very important tactical tools that a good project manager needs in order to be successful. Developing strong people skills is just as important if not more so.

Consider a status meeting where a key resource on your project enters the meeting late and advises the entire team that they were in a car accident on the way to the office. You as the Project Manager now have the difficult task of getting the team back on task and complete the meeting. This must be handled with tact and compassion while keeping the goal in mind.

Project management is about people. This is especially true when you face a project that is being delivered in a “matrix” environment. The matrix environment is best defined as a project where the PM has influential power over the resources and no direct power. The PM must be a good motivator, negotiator and mediator. Imagine how difficult it would be to motivate someone who has just been assigned to your project that is three months from retirement. If you had spent time developing your soft skills it would be beneficial, and in some cases critical to project delivery.

The Power of Observation is another underdeveloped skill that any manager needs but for a PM it is essential. Outside pressures that influence your individual team members can have a detrimental effect on the morale of the team and the success of the project. You as the PM must understand these pressures and pay attention to the changes in participation, attitude, or performance of each individual. You must also know how to respond.

The project manager is a misnomer. This responsibility involves so much more than just managing projects. It’s really the art of managing people. There are many courses that focus on tactical project management skills but not necessarily the soft skills. You will need to look outside the standard project management training facilities to find both.

Happy learning…

Soft skills development is part of the Project Management training provided by Logixsource. This training focuses on topics such as effective communication, the art of negotiation and mediating conflict. Contact Heather Cartwright or Scott Savage to learn how you can enhance your soft skills.

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