Project management is a complex task that requires both technical and soft skills. Forecasting, reporting, and scheduling are all examples of hard skills. Soft skills include communication, leadership, and teamwork. It is usually easier to determine when to use hard skills, as they are often applicable to specific and quantifiable tasks.
Despite this, soft skills seem to get less attention in project forums and general discussion. To help you thrive in a project environment, I have focused my attention on three of the most overlooked soft skills.
Your team’s resilience is a measure of its ability to cope with external or internal factors that could impact its goals. These factors can vary greatly, from the team’s resourcing to the availability and capabilities of ancillary staff.
Although it is impossible to list all factors, Diagram 1 highlights key factors that may affect a project team’s resilience.
Diagram 1. Factors that impact the resilience of project teams.
These are three factors that I have personally experienced.
It is important to be resilient as staff burnout can have a significant impact on the performance of the team. It is especially helpful to have a mentor and to create a work-life balance.
It is essential to have project documentation in order to brief stakeholders, especially when there is high turnover of project staff. Up-to-date documentation (e.g. The transition of new staff to your project is made much easier when you have the Project Initiation document.
The ability to effectively use ancillary team members can improve outcomes. In my previous role, for example, I worked closely with the technical team to vet method statements and present them to engineering managers. This helped reduce risk and increased approval rates for documentation. It is important to be aware that there are many ancillary groups that can be enlisted.
Your personal brand is closely tied to the concept of self-awareness. This includes everything from your dress sense to your specialist knowledge, professionalism, and ambition.
Your personal brand is built by having an honest and open dialogue with yourself. What are your interests? What are your top strengths? What are your key strengths? It is important to remember that your personal brand must complement the corporate brand. Ask yourself questions such as “How can I embody the values of my organization in my daily work?”
There are many questions you can ask, but the sample answers (Table 1) will help you frame the conversation.
Table 1. Table 1.
Question Sample Answer
What is my level in ambition?
Level: Programme manager
Sector: Public sector
Types of projects: Capital projects, service improvement projects
What’s my work style?
Smart business with clients
What are my key skills?
Expert knowledge: Organisational project management processes
Expert skills: Change management, leadership
Your unique selling point will help you attract others to you and make you a go-to person.
Politically savvy project managers recognize that projects are often conducted in politically charged environments. This can impact multiple stakeholders with vested interest. These stakeholders are often called “teams within teams” by me because they are often part of the same organisation but have different objectives. The project’s implementation brings them together.
My experience shows that two key groups of teams within teams’ can have a negative impact on the outcome of your project.