Project managers do not need just technical skills; they also need the right management skills to be successful in their position. Discussing why soft skills are required in project managers and what companies should look for when hiring a project manager is essential. The main deciding points when hiring a project manager are management skills, right technical skills, and soft skills.
Finding a good project manager is not just essential but also a necessary step in the company development cycle, after which other things follow. Good project managers can push a simple product or program to transform from ok to great. Companies that are on the hunt for a project manager usually tend to give priority to technical skills. Still, the most essential skills of a project manager are their interpersonal ones, that is, soft skills. Management skills are incomplete if the project manager does not have skills that enhance their interaction and management.
Ideal project managers carry the ship from the commencement of the project to the end. They also know how to confront disruption, can finish a project within budget and time and do all of this effortlessly. Project managers take responsibility for the total project scope and make decisions about working by delegating to several business analysts, solution and database architects, technical writers, developers and all other team members.
A top priority is creating a work environment where these project managers can thrive and effectively contribute to the project’s goal. A project manager who understands how to balance soft and hard skills acts as a catalyst to reaching the project’s end goal and, in turn, the organisation.
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Why are soft skills crucial when looking for good project managers?
When a project manager has all the technical expertise, it helps them understand the required solutions based on different problems. It also gives them an insight into the various problems the rest of the team must face. Despite that, other management skills are also needed, namely people skills.
To begin with, negotiation skills are a must. During any project, budget, time and specifications make up what is known as the “iron triangle” of project constraints. If any of these changes, the others change as well, throwing off the progress made by someone else. Two very essential soft skills that project management professionals should possess are courage and the ability to provide conflict resolutions. They should be able to resolve any issues and disagreements among team members, whether about budgets or deadlines and then know how to communicate this news to team leaders and senior executives so that further problems do not develop.
How can a project manager be an effective leader?
A project manager must have the ability and skill to focus on project outcomes. In addition to this, a project manager must also have management skills that help them to prioritise the development of an efficient environment which is autonomous and collaborative too. Why is this balance important? It is crucial as employees do not feel the need to have a manager who is constantly checking them at every step or nitpicking on every action they make. Project managers should trust the team they work with and believe they can chart their own route to achieve the project’s goals and objectives. At the same time, the project manager should be able to collaborate with the team to keep the process going in the right direction.
This may sound paradoxical and hard to believe, but most companies do not have a fixed process for project management. In addition, many projects face many unforeseen and complicated interruptions. If a project manager lacks the attitude to take charge, he may wait too long to address the issues, which is a sure-shot recipe for disaster.
When looking for project managers, project management skills are required by the employer to identify the soft management skills in prospective candidates. Finding a candidate with technical knowledge and leadership skills is very difficult, but not impossible. It is, however, essential for hiring managers to keep an eye out for both these categories of management skills or else the project’s success may be jeopardised.
How to find a project manager with management skills
Here are three main tips for executives and CIOs to consider when hiring a project manager with the same amount of soft and technical skills.
1. Culture fit should be a priority before the interview: As vague as it may sound, culture fit is just as hard to identify and judge while interviewing. However, one way to improve your chances of finding the candidate that fits well in your company is by doing extra work on the front end. Essentially, define the main attributes of your organisation and use them to create the required characteristics for the project manager position. Deliberately refer to them when you discuss job roles and responsibilities; as a result, you may be more likely to interview high-quality potential project managers.
2. Test their leadership skills during the interview: Merely asking a candidate if they consider themselves a leader during the interview is not enough. Instead, pose challenging questions during the interview, judge their management skills and ask them to explain why they made a specific decision during a critical situation.
You may have seen projects go south as a technical lead or CIO. You must try to bring those issues and situations to the table during the interview and ask the project manager candidate how he will handle them. While knowing about a project manager’s success due to his management skills is essential. However, you also need to be aware of how they will use those management skills when spearheading existing and new projects in the future for your organisation. Working in the real-world environment for your company can be very different from working in the natural world environment for another company. Remember to bring these points up about the role they will assume for your company.
3. Remember to question your instincts: While first impressions are crucial, they may not always be the most accurate impression of reality. To better your chances of employing the right candidate for the position, you will evaluate the candidates objectively. This should be done during every stage of the interview.
In the book “You’re Not the Person I Hired!” executive recruiter Brad Remillard established five main predictors for employee success in the long term. These were flawless executions, high initiative, leadership, adaptability and past success. Keep a look out for each of these signs when interviewing candidates for project manager. Dig deeper if you think their claim about their management skills does not seem to match with the person they seem to be. The success of your project is crucial; for the sake of this, you must hire the best candidate with high management skills who can quickly rise to the top.
Hiring is the crucial element of your business, and you must always strive to get it right. To conduct successful hiring for your project, keep the above points in mind, hire a project manager with excellent technical and management skills and enjoy the benefits of your project.
Reference: 3 Tips To Hire a Project Manager With the Right Management Skills|Spiceworks|Gus Cicala|June 24, 2022