A skilled IT project manager has the technical expertise to conduct his tasks under pressure. He possesses soft skills when dealing with different team members and stakeholders involved in the project.
As cited in the Project Management Body of Knowledge’s (PMBOK) processes, these detail the necessary concepts that apply to the existing software project to deliver optimum performance. A qualified project manager must have essential soft skills to ensure any offshore software development project will succeed.
Below are some of these critical soft skills to look for when hiring a project manager
#1 Capacity to lead.
Effective leadership is not limited to making good statements or having a pleasing personality.
Leadership can be defined by results and not merely on goals and objectives.
Good leadership is a critical soft skill of a project manager. Leadership is defined as the capacity to get things done through the assistance of other people in completing the assigned tasks. Inspiring people undertakes this to do their work and enabling them to do their task well. This starts by enabling the team to fully understand the project’s vision and explaining how valuable each team member’s contribution to successfully complete the project and achieve the overall organizational goal.
Team effort to solve issues
The project manager should let each team member realize that everyone is part of the solution that can impact the project. By promoting a holistic approach in team development, the project manager and team members can freely discuss work-related issues regarding the project to gain the project objectives.
Also, leadership highlights how team members can attain their personal and group objectives by aligning themselves to the project’s overall targets.
#2 Keep up with team goals.
Every member of the team has his own skills to contribute to meeting team outputs. The project completion involves various individuals like customers, vendor, sponsor, consultant, project management office, quality assurance team, and the business owners.
The core team tasked to perform the project interacts with different team members, either occasionally or daily. It is vital that team members should feel secure, can freely collaborate within the team, and establish trust with each other. Team building activities are essential to building a good working environment where people can bond with one another.
Getting everyone involved
The project manager oversees sharing project details for team members involved in decision-making, keeping project updates, maintaining open lines of communication between the management and subordinates, providing resolutions to conflicts in a timely manner, and safeguarding the team from external hazards and distractions.
Also, the project manager is responsible to identify every team’s milestones, posting them on public platforms or sharing them during team meetings so everyone feels appreciated for their work as a group. At the same time, highlighting customer appreciation to the team, along with recognition or rewards, are helpful ways to let the team feel they are highly valued. A well-coordinated team helps each other during tough times and will overcome any challenges that it may encounter.
#3 Motivate people to do their best.
Motivating the team will always be more efficient than merely focusing on the person’s talents and skills. Keeping the team motivated is letting everyone knows that what each does is making a good difference to the project. When the team members know their worth to the customer, end-users, and the organization, they will do their best in their work.
Appreciating one’s contribution
The project manager should identify people’s personal and professional needs and goals. For some, these relate to financial compensation. Others are seeking a sense of accomplishment by undertaking a challenging task while for others, these could mean hierarchical growth in the workplace or being recognized for their arduous work. Being aware of what motivates your team members, the project manager can help them achieve those things to keep them motivated.
#4 Good communication.
The most frequent problem in communication is unable to express yourself and be fully understood by your receiver. While effective communication can be achieved easily, lack of it can cause several project issues. Remember that communication is always a two-way street. Keeping an open and honest interaction from top to bottom management enables the project manager to communicate decisions and information clearly within the team.
This helps the team members to feel comfortable providing their opinions or suggestions to the manager about their
concerns, issues and even constructive criticisms. Practicing open communication establishes the team’s mutual trust.
Transparent communication is key
IT offshore development projects usually fail because of poor communication. When hiring a project manager, ensure that this individual is well-versed in identifying efficient communication channels with the stakeholders. He should evaluate cultural differences in perspective and can interact with his team regularly.
#5 Ability to influence others.
Influencing is employing your rapport with your team members effectively when collaborating with them on creating the best decisions and attaining project goals.
As a project manager, the ideal way to influence team members is to set by example. If you require the team to work early, show them how to do it. When setting yourself as a good example, do things in a subtle way or else your team members may think you are a show-off. Always consider the team’s interest while deciding things and inform them.
#6 Better on making decisions.
Decision-making deals with how a project manager handle project issue. This includes other factors such as time constraints, trust level, project quality, and team acceptance. Various techniques in decision-making include:
- Command – this is authoritative decision-making where the project manager’s decision is final, and every team member should follow it.
- Consultation – this is when the project manager consults the team members’ and stakeholders’ opinions. The most rational decision is considering the best project interest.
- Consensus – the project manager takes the decision that appeals to most of the team members.
- Random (coin-flip decision) – this is the least favored and best prevented. Decisions created with this approach are not the most desired among team members considering no reasoning is involved.
Also, decision-making follows a six-phase model such as:
- - Defining clearly the project issues and problems
- - Providing several solutions where any decision is not done in haste
- - Citing evaluation criteria, exploring the pros and cons of optional solutions, and selecting the most suitable solution
- - Identify who engages in executing solutions and their impacts, and how to convince them to accept provided solutions
- - After implementing the solution, check the lessons learned
- - Examine the extent of attained project objective of the employed solution.
#7 Background in political and cultural demographics.
Many companies consider offshore software development to virtual teams or outsourcing to other companies. However, collaborating with various teams require dealing with different geographical and cultural backgrounds. Identifying the teams and their backgrounds help the project manager to communicate with them in a timely manner to make things easy for the members. As teams from various countries collaborate, the project manager should know their work ethics and what environments they are most comfortable working with.
As much as possible, project politics that negatively impacts the team should be prevented. The project manager should assert his authority to skillfully manage the team and communicate well with the senior members of the organization.
#8 Resolve conflicts and negotiate solutions.
Negotiation is an effective way of resolving conflicts and providing resolutions to existing issues. For project issues, as a project manager, ensure to take time to listen to both the parties and decide on a fair manner. During negotiations, it is not always possible that both parties agree on certain decisions. Always seek a win-win situation or a compromise to resolve conflicts and issues.
By listening, identifying, and discussing issues, these provide potential solutions, where both parties could have ignored earlier. The project manager should never take sides in the negotiations and be fair before arriving at a resolution.
#9 Establish trust within the team.
A reliable project manager is someone who has earned his team’s trust and is confident about the loyalty of his team. A good team leader can earn the trust of his team members by sharing project details, showing transparency in decision-making, and engaging people to provide their suggestions, and being interested to let the team members grow or assisting people to achieve their professional goals. You can also earn your team’s trust by listening to their personal concerns, showing empathy with them, and attempting to help in solving their problems.
#10 Promote coaching.
Coaching involves assisting a team member to reach his optimum potential and achieve his career growth toward the higher position. This includes people counseling to change their mindset regarding the current situation and pushing them to push their limits and perform better at work.
In training, it is focused on enhancing a specific skill level. Meanwhile, in coaching, this increases the skill level and overcoming one’s own mental blocks and self-doubts to succeed in your work.
#11 Manage conflicts and gaps.
Conflicts are common to any company. When dealing with people and teams, conflict management is part of the core skills that a project manager must oversee when managing projects well.
Project conflicts within teams vary like stiff competition brought by scarce resources, communication gaps, unmet requirements, downtime, personnel regulations, and so on. Once a conflict is well-managed, this can bring any situation to put people together toward a common goal of attaining the team’s project goals and objectives.