Use Training to Enhance Team Leaders’ Project Management Skills

Project management skills may be the key to effectively pursuing your organization’s goals — and they can be enhanced through training.

An office meeting about a project.

What skills are integral to modern project management?

The ability to manage a project isn’t something employees either have or don’t. Rather, this skill is a set of competencies that can be sharpened and enhanced through targeted training. Considering the central role project management plays in pursuing organizational goals, this is a type of employee education worth investing in.

Creating a project management training program that will deliver real value means identifying the workers who will benefit from the new knowledge, determining the best practices they should learn and selecting courses that impart that information effectively. At the end of this process, you may find workflows throughout your organization have improved, bolstered by a better grasp on project management.

Who Should Learn Project Management Skills?

CIO magazine’s guide to project management pointed out there are many functional positions responsible for the success of a given task. A dedicated project manager is obviously the point person for getting major efforts across the finish line, but smooth communication with functional leaders and stakeholders such as schedulers, analysts and project sponsors is critical. These professionals each have their own tasks to take care of, and should be well-versed in the language of project management to make their contributions optimally.

As CIO explained, the project management organization within a large enough company can also contain the roles of the program manager — overseeing related projects — and portfolio managers, who have strategic control over the department. This hierarchy, specifically dedicated to project management, is reserved for workers who are adept in the soft and hard skills of the trade.

A project manager leads a meeting.What does it take to keep a project on track?

What Are the Best Practices of Modern Project Management?

After identifying which members of the staff should receive instruction in project management, it’s worth asking exactly which skill areas they should focus on when receiving instruction. According to The Digital Project Manager’s recent summary of the essentials, these employees should master a combination of soft interpersonal skills and more regimented abilities.

Project management professionals should be able to get their messages across, inspire and direct others and negotiate effectively. These soft skills are an essential part of any manager’s abilities, as without them it will be difficult to ensure work is done effectively and on time. Delivering a completed project means coordinating and directing the efforts of other employees. Going it alone and taking on too much work individually is not a sustainable way to lead, and therefore project managers must know how to delegate, and to get their way when dealing with upper management and team members alike.

The exact types of hard, technical knowledge a project manger should have will depend on the type of industry that individual serves in and the kinds of finished products they are expected to deliver. Industry publication The Digital Project Manager recommended that project managers learn enough about their companies’ offerings to make educated projections about project status and delivery timelines. They’ll know the “why” behind the organization’s standard practices, which helps them guide projects to completion.

A great project manager will also comprehend risk management principles, as well as the science behind planning and time management. While project managers spend significant amounts of time and effort organizing the work of others, the hours they put in alone working on plans and outlines may determine whether work is accomplished on schedule, on budget and up to quality standards. When this role is performed at a high level, other members of the team will understand immediately what is expected of them and when they should have it done. This level of clarity can lead to satisfactory results.

How Does Effective Project Management Training Work?

Project management training may take an overarching view of the subject or delve into specifics. The former kind of training may encompass fundamentals such as planning, team management and expectation setting. Leaders can learn how to create timelines, track milestones and manage changes that occur during the course of any project. These courses also often delve into soft skills such as effective communication.

The latter type, of course, may focus on scenarios such as keeping projects on track when stakeholders are separated by large distances and electronic communication methods are the only way to keep a project on track. They may also address project management through the lens of philosophies such as Lean methodology, a popular high-efficiency approach derived from Toyota’s manufacturing process. Professionals who receive the right combination of lessons, addressing general and specific competencies, can drastically improve their projects’ effectiveness.

The delivery method for these employee education materials has evolved over the years. Today, your company can opt to focus on online training materials with a strong video component. These lessons are much easier for workers to take on their own schedules and can help keep participants engaged through narrative dramatizations in videos and interactive quizzes. With such an affordable and flexible way to deliver project management training, there’s no reason not to bring your leadership personnel up to speed.

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