Project managers need a combination of technical, leadership and business acumen skills to deliver projects successfully. Cultivating such a broad array of skills requires focus. You’ll need to keep adapting and improving your project management skills as your career develops.

Let’s run through the most in-demand project skills and how tapping into a project management community can enhance and refine your capabilities and career prospects.

What are the most important skills for project managers?

Project managers need a combination of essential skills to deliver projects successfully.

Hard skills in project management keep the project on track

Soft skills in project management engage and influence teams and stakeholders

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Confidence
  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Diplomacy
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Vision

Business acumen in project management delivers projects in line with the business strategy

  • Technical expertise
  • Industry knowledge
  • Commercial acumen

How can you improve your project management skills?

No matter where you are in your project management career or what formal education you have, it’s important never to stop learning. The world changes and there are constant advances in best practice thinking. You need to keep up, or you risk being left behind.

Luckily, there are many ways to keep developing your capability and confidence. Here are our top seven ways to build and enhance your project management skills.

1. Practice

Practice is the best way to get better at any skill. Try to seek out opportunities for hands-on learning and cementing your skills. You could shadow or support a more senior manager within your organisation or take on a volunteer role outside of your day job. Having a solid professional network will be key here.

2. Education

Degree: A formal qualification is an excellent addition to your CV. Employers are increasingly considering it mandatory. Many universities offer undergraduate bachelor’s degrees and postgraduate master’s degrees in project management.

Diploma: If you can demonstrate prior knowledge gained on the job or are looking to fill specific skill gaps, a certificate, diploma or short course may suit you better. Check out the Project Management Course Directory to explore endorsed education options.

Workshops: Workshops are brilliant for learning project management skills. For example, the Australian Institute of Project Management’s (AIPM’s) Foundations in Project Leadership Workshop helps develop a leadership mindset and builds communication, emotional intelligence and stakeholder engagement skills.

Webinars: Nothing beats the convenience of remote learning. The AIPM has a huge range of on-demand professional development webinars, many of which are free for members.

3. Certification

As you build a body of work, getting project management certification allows your skills, experience and accomplishments to be recognised. If you’re just starting out, look to become a Certified Practising Project Practitioner (CPPP). If you’re responsible for delivering projects, you can aim for the Certified Practising Project Manager (CPPM™). If you’re more senior, the Certified Practising Senior Project Manager (CPSPM) might be for you. And if you’ve achieved the heights of directorship, get recognition as a Certified Practising Project Director (CPPD). Moving through the levels of certification is a great way to know precisely what skills you need to develop to keep progressing through your career.

4. Feedback

360-degree feedback is essential for developing your project management skills. Your organisation may have a formal system for this, or you can seek feedback informally from your managers and your team. Ask direct questions, like “How could I support you to be better at your job?” or “How could I communicate more clearly?” and think deeply about how you might change the way you approach your work.

5. Mentoring

Mentoring programs are terrific for building key project management skills for the mentor and the mentee. As the mentee, you’ll get valuable advice and guidance from an industry expert. As the mentor, you’ll develop your leadership capacity and emotional intelligence. If you’re interested in nominating as a mentor or mentee, take a look at our project management mentoring program.

6. Networking

You need to be actively engaged in your industry and profession throughnetworking. One of the best ways to forge connections and keep up-to-date is to attend project management events. You can speak to other project managers about best practices and how they have overcome challenges. You might even find your next client or contract.

7. Membership organisation

Getting a membership in a peak industry body gives you access to a community of like-minded professionals. You’ll find new opportunities, improve your project management skills, access certification, connect with peers and get exposure to the latest insights and thinking through events, online communities and resource hubs.

Improve your project skills with the AIPM

Are you ready to own your career and embrace lifelong learning? Want to surround yourself with resources and information to be a better project manager?

At the AIPM, we’re proud to help project managers improve their project management skills throughout their careers. Our events, resources and programs combine to advance your career, grow your network and improve your project performance.

Become a member today and discover how tapping into a community of like-minded professionals opens the door to a raft of career-changing personal development opportunities.