The importance of people skills in project delivery

The Importance of People Skills in Project Delivery

How do we measure what makes a project manager successful? Is it the number of years of experience; technical expertise; certifications; or the one who possesses people management skills?

Often project managers are trained in the technical aspects of project management such as setting objectives, critical path analysis, work breakdown structures, resource scheduling, and RAID management. However, the success of a project also rests on the understanding of related people and management issues.

Managers must possess the right people skills to build team morale, enhance employee engagement, manage conflicts, and steer them through the project’s success. Communication skills and capability is fundamental in this endeavour and central to all aspects of project management in my opinion…communication trumps certification!

In addition, a project manager must also deal with clients and other stakeholders constantly. So, importance is placed squarely on a manager’s people skills, sometimes referred to as soft skills.

What are people skills?
People skills are related to behaviour patterns or behavioural interactions, which help you communicate effectively with others. Strong people skills facilitate individuals to influence others positively and better socialise.

These skills typically fall into three categories:

  • Personal Skills:
    The ability to confidently communicate your strengths and present yourself to others constitute personal skills. It includes traits like confidence, honesty, and assertiveness. In addition, you need to be able to understand your own limits and make intelligent decisions guided by reason rather than emotion.
  • Interaction Skills:
    Can you read and assess other people’s behaviour? Interaction skills are critical for understanding the other person’s behaviour and thoughts while maintaining boundaries and building relationships.
  • Intercession Skills:
    They are like interaction skills, but they specifically apply to situations where the people involved have interests or perspectives that are at odds with each other. Resolving these differences requires empathy, patience, and negotiating a solution that others can accept. Again, you can see how communication capability is so important here.

Other people skills examples might include:

  • Active Listening & Effective Communication;
  • Leadership & Motivation Skills;
  • Collaboration & Conflict Resolution;
  • Persuasion & Influencing Skills;
  • Management Skills;
  • Networking;
  • Team-building Skills;
  • Open-mindedness & diplomacy;
  • Social skills;
  • Reliability & Tolerance;
  • Respectfulness 

Contrary to the common perception, people skills are not just a wishy-washy concept. These competencies really do matter, especially in a project manager’s role, which is explicitly people-facing. 

Project management is not only about delivering the project but how you carry your team along and support them makes a difference. Leading others and guiding them through the entire project lifecycle comes with a level of responsibility and demands specific skills.  For example, a project manager with leadership skills provides positive feedback and constructive criticism to the team. They also adapt to unforeseen changes and hurdles and efficiently deal with the stakeholder’s volatile requests with cognitive flexibility. In addition, an efficient project manager must also possess critical thinking skills, find potential solutions, and minimise bottlenecks, to avoid schedule and budget overruns. Moreover, as the nature of work is rapidly transforming, companies embrace a diverse workforce. Thus, people skills are imperative to embrace diversity and inclusivity. In short, human interaction and communication are at the core of effective project management.

When strong people skills are integrated into the workplace, teams are well connected, and there is a seamless exchange of relevant information. As a result, conflicts are reduced, and the work environment becomes positive, eventually leading to enhanced engagement and productivity. It also helps managers deal with several projects and resource-related challenges, thus, facilitating its smooth delivery.

Given the benefits of people skills in the modern business realm, effectively investing in improving them will bring significant advantages.

Conclusion
Effective project management is no easy task but having people skills can help you run projects efficiently with more strategy and less stress. In addition, it allows you to build a team that can take on the biggest challenges, and be more effective and resilient during challenging times.

However, the people skills alone will not keep a project team motivated and engaged. Instead, equipping yourself with the right technical skills and intelligent tools like project resource management software can improve the workflow and significantly contribute to the project’s success.

To see how your organisation can connect, communicate and collaborate effectively, contact the Aspira Team today.

Thomas McGrath - Chief Operating Officer

Thomas McGrath - Chief Operating Officer

Thomas McGrath is the Chief Operating Officer at Aspira and comes from a broad background of Business & Technical Transformation, Project & Programme Delivery and Change Management Consultancy. As COO, Thomas has responsibility for core project delivery functions at Aspira which include Project Resourcing including Nearshoring, Advisory, Software Development, Business Applications & ITS

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