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5 Fundamental Soft Skills for Remote Project Managers

Understanding The Role of Proactive Leadership in Project Management


Hi! I'm Khadijah. Project manager for MetaPM since April 2021. For the last 12 months, my work has focused on the University of Melbourne and prior to that, Beyond Blue, another successful MetaPM client.

MetaPM was founded in 2006 by a group of management experts with a vision to do project consulting in the best way possible. In 2022, they joined MI-GSO | PCUBED, a world-leading PMO & Project Management Consulting group. 

I believe having a wide range of soft skills and knowing when to implement them effectively is the key to my success at MetaPM. A success I’d like to share with prospective project managers looking to join the MetaPM team. 


What are Soft Skills?

Otherwise known as "people skills,” soft skills relate to how you work. They are the personal attributes that enable a project manager, who often find themselves in leadership roles, to interact effectively and harmoniously with their team, stakeholders, and others with whom they might engage.

Whilst you may be an excellent candidate for job-specific technical skills, if you can't demonstrate your ability to manage and work within a team and with stakeholders, you may fail in your appointed role. As a project manager, you must show that you have the soft skills to communicate effectively and build trust––this also lends itself to resolving conflicts. 

Soft skills are multifaceted—over my time at MetaPM, I have learnt to understand, act on, and manage them across team members, stakeholders and the like. It takes time and practice, but by looking to implement the following in your everyday routine, you'll understand why soft "people" skills are just as critical as technical skills when managing a successful project.


1. Communication 

Effective communication is one of a project manager's most important soft skills, especially in today's remote workplace. 

As a project manager, I spend significant time communicating with project team members and stakeholders. Finding an effective way to bridge the gap involves recognising the best communication channel for each person I interact with, in line with their preference and the information I need to get across. 

As an example, in my experience, it is often more effective to communicate with senior stakeholders via email and follow up with a meeting or conversation. Because communication is essentially made up of two parts: the giving of information and the receiving of information, I can be explicit with the information I present while giving them the space to comprehend and respond in a timely manner.

A successful project manager that supports an open-door communication policy between team members is also most likely to be successful in achieving their objectives. 

Since working remotely, I have found that it is easier to be approachable with access to online tools such as Microsoft Teams. It makes it easier to communicate clearly and on time and ultimately avoids any misunderstandings. The team member can ask follow-up questions if they are unclear and let me know that the message is understood—my open-door approach invites team members to contact me online when and if they need to. 

I also utilise tools such as wiki pages which can be invaluable when it comes to sharing essential information and documents, and keeping team members, as well as stakeholders, informed. 


The key takeaway: When we work to build an effective communicative relationship, we build success for the project at hand.


2. Trust

In my experience, establishing trust as a leader is based on your ability to be transparent and accountable. You need to communicate information effectively with your team, get team members involved in the decision-making process when applicable, and be transparent about the decision made and the outcome delivered. 

Being genuinely interested in each team member, listening to hear, and not just speaking will aid their growth and ensure a successful project is delivered. In fact, according to TINYpulse research, '61% of employees say trust between themselves and senior management is very important to job satisfaction.'

When cultivating a culture of trust, it is also essential that you emulate the behaviour you expect of your team. Establishing a charter of behaviour expectations for some projects can also be effective.

When working remotely, trust that when you give a colleague a task, they will do it without checking in. Give them some autonomy without micromanaging. 


The key takeaway: Cultivate a work culture of trust, and your team will thrive. A thriving team generates a successful project.


3. Conflict Management

As a project manager, you'll soon learn that people deal with conflict in a medley of ways. Therefore, you must ensure that you have different strategies to manage any dispute that may arise within your team. 

First things first, when conflict arises, be quick to address it and don't sit on it. Doing so only adds fuel to the fire and gives it a chance to spread. When conflict is avoided, nothing is resolved.

Be objective, and allow room for diverse perspectives from all concerned––this will allow for the bigger picture to present itself. It again comes back to effective communication, being transparent and open to discussion. By engaging in active listening, you let your colleagues know that you want to hear what it is they have to say and that, yes, you want to understand their thoughts.

On the flip side, if you are part of the conflict, own up to it and be accountable. Showing vulnerability as a leader builds trust and can help toward conflict resolution. Show that you can apologise in a professional space.


The key takeaway: Be empathetic, although conflict can deter from the project at hand, wasting valuable time and resources. Consciously take the time to see their perspective and actively listen to resolve the dispute. If you don't, the project may be pushed out even further, leading to a more considerable loss of resources.


4. Time Management 

The role of a project manager is undoubtedly busy. 

A 2021 Project Management Report by the RGPM revealed that 'nearly 60% of project managers are running between two and five projects. A small group – 11% – are running six to ten projects, and 15% run more than 10 projects.’

So it makes sense that those who manage their time well are notably more productive, efficient, and likely to meet deadlines. 

My recommendation is to start the week with a plan to keep across all project activities and prioritise what is needed first. Make sure to revisit your goals daily and reprioritise accordingly.

Again, communication is vital in managing stakeholder expectations. If you know you will not meet a deadline, communicate it early. That way, there are no surprises. 


The key takeaway: Plan, review, and communicate. Action.

5. Resourcefulness

As a project manager showing resourcefulness is invaluable because you’re frequently problem-solving to ensure the project's success.

Finding efficient and innovative ways to overcome challenges is an essential soft skill, as is optimising your available resources to construct something new or better. 

Being resourceful means adopting an open and inquisitive mindset by constantly asking questions––answers often lead to more questions, giving you a mountain of information that enables you to understand better.


The key takeaway: Show initiative, be adaptable, and never be afraid to question.


Develop Your Skill Set

Developing your soft skill set takes time and practice. Being vulnerable as a project manager and understanding that you may not always get it right when implementing a soft skill, is part of development. 

Suppose you can allow yourself to be self-aware, save room for improvement, and build upon experience. In that case, you'll develop a successful soft skill set parallel to your technical capabilities––making you an invaluable team member.

I value an organisation that emphasises the value of its people. MetaPM genuinely cares about its employees. I am proud to be employed by a company that invests in continuous education and recognises its project managers' need to build upon their skills. 

If this work fit gravitates toward your values, I highly recommend connecting with MetaPM today.

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