What skills do you need to have as a project manager?

By Vicky (Ji Sun) Lee

If you want to become a project manager (PM), there are few skills that you need to have. Well, first of all, who are the project managers and what are their roles? In this post, I will elaborate on some of the skills that are required to be a successful, determined project manager.

First of all, projects are temporary endeavors to create a unique product or service. Project managers are basically in charge of the planning and execution of a particular project. Their roles differ based on the company they work at, but most of them plan projects by setting a goal, calculating critical path, identifying business opportunities or threat, and by establishing baseline, etc. Once they finish planning, the project will go through the process of Initiating-Planning-Executing-Monitoring and Controlling-and Closing until they are completed. Then, in order to achieve the goals they set up for each project, what skills do these project managers need to have?

  1. Organizational Skills

One thing I have learned while studying Localization Management at MIIS is the fact that project managers need to be extremely organized. I used to think “Well, everyone’s different. It depends on whom you work for and where you work at.” However, most of the project managers I have met online and in person while interviewing were all extremely organized. What does it mean to be organized? It can mean a few things! Here are some of the examples.

 

  • Creating folders for each project in your laptop
  • Checking clients’ requirements thoroughly (few times if necessary)
  • Monitoring the overall processes and flow of each project
  • Writing notes on cellphones, small notebooks, or on your tablet
  • Never missing a deadline!
  • Saving files in a different format

 

  1. Time Management Skills

Time is gold in project management. Project managers are responsible for delivering the project ON TIME! They might even have to rush sometimes as they need to manage “rush projects.” In order to make each client satisfied, project managers need to plan things carefully both before and in the middle of a project. Why in the middle of a project? Uncertainties always tend to follow. This is why time management skills are important and this is why it is crucial for project managers to prioritize tasks. It is no secret that project managers receive bunch of e-mails on a daily basis. Do you think they are all capable of responding on a same day? Probably not. This is where their organizational skills come in handy. Prioritizing tasks will not only let project managers to save time but also manage time more efficiently.

Small tip: One of the best project management software I loved was Project Libre. In this software, I could just type in name of the tasks and the duration of each of these tasks, and it automatically produces Gantt Chart for you and surprisingly, it automatically calculates critical path as well! But why do I like it so much? Whenever there is a change in the duration for some task, you simply have to type in the new duration. Once you do this, the whole Gantt Chart will be adjusted as well and the critical path will be automatically re-calculated. Trust me, this software is VERY useful! 🙂

 

  1. Intercultural Communication Skills

Project managers not only have to work with a team but also lead the team.  It is their responsibility to foster communications amongst team members. Whether they talk to people via e-mail or in person, they need to be able to communicate with people with different cultural backgrounds. No matter where you go, you will always experience miscommunication and misunderstanding of different cultures. In order to plan and execute each project smoothly, project managers need to be determined, passionate, but also considerate. Once the project managers achieve these skills, they can encourage their team members to do so as well.

Small Tip: Since you are in the Korean language program, you will be working with your Korean classmates most of the time. But, try taking few Intercultural Competence courses! You will be able to meet new friends from different programs at MIIS and your English will improve a lot since you will need to read, write, and share your opinions in class a lot! 🙂 Taking Intercultural Communication in Multicultural Settings taught by Dr. Lynn Goldstein was extremely helpful for me as I was able to interact with people of different nationalities and culture and hear different perspectives from them.

 

The skills I mentioned above are the ones that I think project managers should have. Yet, this is only my opinion and there are so many other skills that project managers strive to achieve. But, I believe MIIS Localization Management program is helping me learn these skills! 🙂

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