Not everyone can effectively manage the project, just because they have a tag of “Project Consultant”. This is applicable for both freelancers and full-timers. Most managers or project heads have learned the hard way and as an independent consultant on the journey to becoming a project manager will not be any easier for you either.
Stop…Read… and Proceed
So, before you brand yourself as a great independent project manager, you have to self-teach to differentiate a good one from a bad one. You need to read this post to learn and develop the skill sets exclusive project managers have and hone to stay on the top of the race. We went through profiles of several executives and have come up with these required project management skills. It’s not always about acing the technical skills, you need other essential skills that support and enhance your technical knowledge.
1. You HAVE to Know How to Lead a Team
Independent project managers often have to work with several temporary project development teams, unlike full-time project managers who work with one or two groups of experts. Project management is about leading stakeholders, vendors, and subordinates towards a successful outcome. And leading should be done in a fashion where everyone consents about a plan while dealing with risks and roadblocks.
You have to paint a picture of a positive outcome, inspire confidence and believe in your team’s ability. This becomes even more essential when your team changes with each company and each project. Communication skills play a huge role in building rapport quickly with fellow team members. You have to build credibility with every stakeholder to ensure the project development is in alignment with the objectives, so much so that, when the need for project manager arises the next time, the company and its employee inevitably prefer you first.
2. You have to be a Superior Organizer, Multi-tasker and Time Manager
A good independent project manager should know how to manage multiple projects, multiple teams and multiple companies on a daily basis. You will be most probably hired to solve two or more cases or projects from two or more completely different companies. In fact, we believe a project’s success or failure truly depends upon the project manager’s ability to organize, delegate tasks and time managing for several projects simultaneously.
You should know which tasks can be handled by team members and which issues could be sorted only by you. You should also learn to say ‘no’ to a project. Freelancers, often being the victim of doing multiple tasks, should cultivate their time management and organization skills continuously. It is our suggestion that you should concentrate only on one to three projects at a time based on its size and complexity.
3. Refine Your Negotiation Skills
If you have come this far in your freelance career that today you are a project manager, it is quite clear that you have your negotiation skills in place. Freelance project managers should be excellent at negotiating. In your work tenure, you would probably meet and deal with people with diverging interests, opinions, requirements and budget constraints. You will also probably meet people who have little or no understanding of your accomplishments or what you could accomplish.
You have to invest time to understand and negotiate these relationships and try to find a middle ground so that both they and you continue to work to move forward with the project development. When it comes to price, make sure you quote a variable pay so as to leave space for negotiation.
4. Be Detail Oriented
The more detail oriented you are, the faster will it take for you to resolve a case or project issue. Project management is all about tracking the details – big and small ones, both. If you meticulously manage each detail of a project, the impact each detail makes on the process will be immense.
Being detail oriented is even more crucial when you are at a complicated job, such as data analyst, data scientist, lawyer, detective and medicine. For instance, if you are solving a murder case, even the slightest remark from a prospective witness can break or make the case. Similarly, if you are handling a team of in-house nurses, a very uncommon statement from a patient can cure his illness. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by staying alert and observant all the time.
5. Technical Skills should be Honed
Again, being recognized as a project manager is an achievement in itself; which basically means you do have sufficient project-based or technical knowledge. However, if you have to steer clear of competition, and take over an entire project swiftly, you need to hone your skills and keep yourself upgraded to the latest developments in your field.
Unlike in full-time job profiles, research, analysis, and development should be part of your everyday work. To be a good project manager you have to have solid knowledge about the tools and platforms that the company you are working for regularly works with.
6. Develop Your Analytical and Problem-Solving Skill
As a project manager, you will be looked up for anything and everything – from solving internal conflicts, handling stakeholders to motivating and guiding team players. And on top of that, projects generally are accompanied by uncertainties, accidents, and incidents. To cope up with these untimely pop-ups problems and issues, you will be expected to be ready with immediate solutions.
Therefore, the best way to strengthen your reflexes is by developing your problem solving and analytical skills. Both the skills let us to calmly dissect a situation and dig deep to understand its root cause. Analytical skills help you to work on a problem from all directions, weigh its pros and cons and then come to a distinctively accurate resolution.
7. And Finally, The Epitome – Communication Skills
All of the above skills can be positively developed and directed, if only and if only you have your communication skill in place. We have been repeatedly telling this, come what may, if you don’t have proper communication etiquettes, you cannot and will not be able to move forward in your career effectively. Since you will be working with many people, two or more companies and a number of stakeholders than a regular project manager, it is very important that you are clearly understood by your stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.
Good news, bad news, status changes and every other fact and explanation have to be communicated to everyone involved.
This is a chance to change your job dynamics, change someone else’s too. Like, share and spread the word. Also, comment on why project management skills are essential for you?