Every company needs a project manager. Listings for Project Manager roles cut across a wide variety of sectors, such as IT, logistics, engineering, and healthcare. Those thinking of changing careers might find project management a good fit, as the role requires soft skills built through work experience. According to task management and team collaboration software company Teamwork, a project manager will need to rely on their soft skills to get the best out of their team, create good working relationships across departments, and ensure the project is carried out smoothly.
If you’re interested to be a project manager, here’s an overview of the role.
What is project management?
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management is “the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver something of value to people.”
Every organisation runs projects to create a product, a service, or the desired outcome. To do so, they require professionals to lead and ensure that the initiatives meet their goals.
That is where the project manager comes in. These people understand the project’s scope and objectives and use their expertise to help drive the team towards success. They are in charge of rallying the troops, making sure that everything is organised and overseeing every detail.
As most jobs involve some form of project management, you can start brushing up on your skills by starting at your place of work. Sharpening your transferable soft skills is a good way to hone your project management experience and boost your resume for future opportunities.
What soft skills should a project manager have?
- Leadership. Aside from managing a project, a project manager also oversees the project team. They need to keep everyone in line while steering them through difficulties. Keep in mind that there are different leadership styles, which have to be adapted to different teams. The best leader understands their people well and knows what motivates them best.
- Collaboration. Collaboration involves the ability to work with other people well. It also includes ensuring that team members can work together effectively. A good collaborator communicates well, conveys their points clearly and ensures that they are understood. Conversely, it also requires active listening, so that the team feels heard.
- Empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of other people. It works hand in hand with collaboration. Being able to empathise with your team puts you in a good position to mediate conflicts. When stress is high and the team is on edge, an empathetic and compassionate leader can help turn the situation around.
- Innovativeness. The PMI identifies innovation as a core competency for project managers because it is vital to succeeding in a “rapidly shifting strategic environment.” Project managers must search for, generate and implement ideas that add value to the group. They should also create an innovation-friendly environment for the team where members are encouraged to be creative and share their thoughts and inputs.
- Organisation. A project has a lot of moving parts – deadlines, deliverables, presentations and more – and the project manager has to be on top of everything. They need to remember what is supposed to happen when, and how it should be executed.
- Adaptability. Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan. A good project manager can adapt to sudden changes, even things planned down to the most minute detail. Being able to adjust will help the team stay afloat and quickly get the project back on track when things go awry.
How to become an effective project manager
Michael DePrisco, Chief Operating Officer of PMI, identifies three ways that one can work towards becoming a project management professional:
1. Take on more responsibilities at work
The skills mentioned above can be honed by on-the-job experience. Volunteering to take on more responsibilities helps you gain valuable skills along the way. “You’ll also earn a reputation as someone who gets things done. That, in itself, opens doors to bigger and better opportunities,” shares DePrisco.
2. Join training programmes
There is a wide range of programmes to help people upskill in project management. Online learning platforms like Coursera and schools like the Singapore University of Technology and Design offer project management courses. Kickoff, a free course by PMI, teaches the basics of project management to newbies.
3. Keep learning
Every industry is constantly evolving, hence it is important to keep learning to stay updated. The technical skills in your field of expertise will be very helpful in enhancing your ability to oversee projects and can help you become more innovative too. Upskilling will always be a good tool to have in your back pocket, so make sure to keep your mind open to learning something new each day.
Project management organisations in Singapore
Like other professions, career growth in this role can be nurtured by learning from others in the field. The groups below are dedicated to sharing their knowledge in project management — networking with these professionals can help generate insight into the sector.
With over 2,000 members, PMI in Singapore can help Project Managers grow their careers through networking events, seminars, boot camps and other activities. They also offer the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, an internationally recognised standard issued by the PMI. The organisation has authorised training partners in Singapore that offer PMP certification courses. You can check their directory here.
PMAS aims to promote the standards of project management while also exchanging knowledge within the community. A member association of the International Project Management Association (IPMA), PMAS implements and offers IPMA certifications for project, programme and portfolio managers.
Primarily based in the construction industry, the Singapore Society of Project Managers has formed alliances or affiliations with various organisations to build a network and enhance their knowledge in project management. The SPM is also a member of the Construction Industry Joint Committee and the Singapore Green Building Council.
This article is contributed by JobStreet.