A Project Manager is a professional who manages projects efficiently and whose primary concerns will be
What is to be done?
When will the task be done?
Why will the task be done?
What resources are available to do the task?
How well has the total project been done?
Which project managers need fundamental skills?
However, the project manager needs to focus on the management processes and allow others to perform the technical work.
They must be knowledgeable in the technological basis of the project, but their primary function is to manage the project/s. As the project is unique and temporary, the project manager uses resources from other operational areas. So it is vital for the project manager to carefully manage the interface between all project stakeholders and manage them effectively for project success.
Critical Skills for Project Managers are the knowledge areas of project management that overlie the other management disciplines and require a broad approach to manage comprehensive professional teams. In a Harvard Business Review Classic paper, Robert L Katz* prepared a three-skill approach to management – technical, human and conceptual. To perform their role, the Project Manager requires the following skillsets:
Technical Skills are necessary for understanding and mastery in the specific activities with the project, which may include specialised knowledge & facility in the use of tools and techniques of the particular discipline. Technical skill implies understanding and proficiency in a specific activity involving methods, processes, procedures, or practices. It is relatively easy for us to visualise the technical skill of the surgeon, the musician, the accountant, or the engineer when each performs his particular function.
Technical skill involves:
Analytical ability within that specialty.
The facility uses the tools and techniques of the specific discipline.
Technical skill is the most ordinary skill for project managers because it is the most substantial. In this age of specialisation, it is the skill required of the most significant number of people; that’s why most education programs are interested in developing this technical skill.
Human Skills are essential when working with a team which helps in the free exchange of ideas. This skill is the leader’s ability to work as a group member and build joint effort within the leading team. Technical skill is primarily enjoyable when working with material things. Human skill mainly involves working with people that reveal how an individual senses his superiors, equals, and subordinates. The project manager who has human skills is aware of his attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs about other teammates and stakeholders; and can see the benefit and constraints of these feelings. By accepting the reality of viewpoints, perceptions, and ideas different from his own, he is skilled in understanding what others mean by their words and behaviour. He is equally skilful in communicating to others, in their contexts, what he means by his behaviour. That skill helps create an environment where subordinates feel free to express themselves without fear of censure or ridicule by encouraging them to participate in the planning and carrying out those things that directly affect them.
Conceptual Skills are required to picture the project’s relationship to the organisation and political environment and help to advance the overall interest of the entire organisation. The conceptual skill helps to see business as a whole. It identifies how the organisation’s various functions depend on each other and how changes on one part impact others. It opens to envisioning the relationship of the respective business to the industry, the community, and the nation’s political, social, and economic powers. Recognising these relationships and sensing the significant factors in any circumstances, the leader should be able to act to raise the overall interest of the entire organisation.
To perform their role, the Project Manager requires the skills:
• Technical Awareness • Budgeting • Estimating Time
• Leadership • Management • Listening & Communication • Negotiating • Conflict Management • Personal Time Management • Team Building
• Organising •Planning • Problem Solving • Analysis • Decision Making
Katz, RL 1974, ‘Skills of an effective administrator’, in Business Classics: Fifteen Key
Concepts for Managerial Success, Harvard Business Review, 1991, USA, pp. 23-35