Interpersonal skills are the soft skills that a project manager must have to be effective on the project.
Eventually the key to the project success is you as a project manager along with the project team needs to focus on completing the activities on the project.
So the fundamental question is, does the project manager need to have all these interpersonal skills to complete the project?
The simple answer is yes.
Project manager may be having knowledge of all the processes, tools and techniques mentioned in the PMBOK. This will help the project manager to learn and adapt the project.
But the way the project manager interacts with the team using his interpersonal skills is the key success factor for the project manager to get the job done by the team.
Interpersonal skills of the project manager
PMBOK especially talked about the below interpersonal skills the project manager must have to be efficient on the project.
- Team Building
- Political and cultural awareness
- Decision Making
- Trust building
- Conflict management
Does the team understand the project goal?
Does your team know the big picture of the project?
Are they focused on what they have to deliver as part of the project?
Eventually leadership is all about make your team understand the goal of the project clearly and ensure they understand the value that the project is bringing to the organization.
At every stage of the project, the team should understand the value realization of the project towards the big picture.
So the project manager need to help the team to make correct decisions in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the project.
Eventually team building is nothing but working together towards achieving a common goal.
But how does it happen?
To work together and exchange information properly , team members need to trust each other.
As a project manager you need to help the team to come to understanding on how they work together and keep motivated even when there are hiccups on the project.
Being a role model, project manager always needs to show openness to discuss with the team as when required, and involve them in the decisions on the project as required.
Eventually the project manager needs to understand what really motivates the team?
Indeed the project manager always has to remind the team about how the project is going to bring the value to the organization and what is in it for them.
Encourage the team to do a good job always. Also make sure you recognize and compensate the good work.
Presumably this is not the only factor for motivating the team, you as a project manager help the team satisfy with the job they are doing.
A large percentage of project managers effort goes on to the communication.
Eventually project communication plan charts out, how the project team members and other stakeholders in the project need to communicate with each other.
In addition to that, the project manager needs to ensure that the team members and other stakeholders get all the information always as they need.
As I mentioned earlier, the project manager needs to work as a role model for the team. The way you behave, your ways of working with stakeholders should set the standard for the team.
As a project manager, you lead by example. This way, the project team will learn from you on how to behave in different situations with the stakeholders.
Political and Cultural Awareness
In today’s scenario, due to many factors teams are scattered across the globe.
Majority of the organizations introduced the concepts of virtual teams, who are scatter across the locations of the globe.
As a project manager you need to understand different cultural backgrounds of your team members and other stakeholders.
This will help the project manager to deal with team members efficiently.
Decision making tell you how to handle different situations occur in the project. Following are few basic decision making techniques
Command – Sometimes you make the decision for your team. And the team follows the decision.
Consultation – Consult the team members for their opinion on your decision and based on their inputs, you would finalize the decision.
Consensus – Discuss with few options with team and get all of the team members agree to one decision among the options.
Coin flip – Randomly selecting one of the options as the decision.
When there are shared or conflicting interests are concerned between different set of people, as a project manager you need to negotiate with them, so that all parties agree to one opinion.
Though win-win situation is not possible always, as a project manager negotiate with different parties to come to a common consensus and create a win-win situation where possible.
Eventually building truest among the team members and other stakeholders of the project is key to success of the project.
But trust will not be build overnight.
You need to be open, unbiased and effective in problem solving. Team member should feel free to come to you for any problems that they face in the project.
Even in tough situations keep your team members informed on your decisions and justifications behind these decisions.
Conflict are opposed interest between the stakeholders or team members.
As a project manager you need to understand the root cause of the conflict and try to resolve the root cause.
If lead properly, conflict can some time lead to better solutions.
There are few conflict management techniques PMBOK suggests. Using those techniques, project manager should be able to resolve the conflicts successfully, and ensure the all the parties are satisfied with problem resolution.
Often you see situations where team members are not able to perform a required task due to the lack of skills.
As a project manager you need to identify those skill gaps and organize for formal or informal trainings to boost their performance.
Coaching and provide training is also treated as one of powerful motivation factors in the team.
Eventually the project manager needs to have all the above mentioned interpersonal skills to efficiently manage the project.
The techniques mentioned above such as conflict management and decision making techniques, and powers that the project manager use to deal with varied situations will be covered in detail later in the upcoming blog posts.