The 9 Competency Areas You Should Master to Be An Effective Project Manager

The 9 Competency Areas You Should Master to Be An Effective Project Manager

Project management is one of the careers that will continue to be in demand across the service, manufacturing and building industries. The increasing demand, as well as increased complexity and diversity of project management, has led learning institutions like the New England College to add programs ranging from basic PM certification to masters degree studies.

If you’re considering a career in the challenging field of project management, there are nine areas of core competency you should develop. Each skill set plays off of and supports the others.


You’ll need to be diplomatic, inspire confidence and mentor your team members, effectively monitor progress and take initiative, often on the fly.

Team Management

Leadership is a macro concept, where team management is more about managing interpersonal relationships and conflict management within work groups. You should lead by your example, demonstrating good principles of team governorship and organization. It’s also important to develop solid relationships within the teams and facilitate cooperation.

Strategy Development

This is at the core of project management. You should have a good comprehension of the project and organizational dependencies, and the impact of the project across business functions. The project manager is also responsible for developing the metrics necessary to track progress and foresee logistic problems ahead of time. It’s also important to integrate corporate goals and priorities.


Flawless planning should lead to flawless execution, but Murphy’s Law exists for a reason. Use your organizational skills here to put your plans into motion and coordinate budgets, teams and timelines while being ready to pivot on a moment’s notice. That means assessing risk management and trade-offs, integrating them into the plan and incorporating the principles of time management into the work flow.

Decision Making

Analyzing scenarios and using facts, data and experience will allow you to make informed decisions. You should be able to collect all necessary data and coordinate it to determine how each decision impacts the project as a whole, taking into consideration unintended consequences.

Business communication


Solid communication and people skills are essential when you’re leading diverse teams with differing goals. This also means fine-tuning your listening skills and conveying clear communication to all key players in the project, verbally and in writing. Presentations, both formal and informal, are also a part of the equation.

Business Acumen

Completing a project successfully also involves having a high business IQ and a little bit of political savvy. You should be aware of market and business trends, and able to understand how changes in these trends might impact the project. You should also have an eye on what the competition is doing.

Technical Competence

Whether your project is highly technical or not, your tech knowledge base should be on point. It helps with communication and planning, and there are specific PM tools like GANTT and PERT that are essential. It also helps to have a deep knowledge of your subject matter or industry from top to bottom.

Critical Thinking

Remaining objective and clear headed are just the beginning. You should also be able to make spot determinations based on changing data and ongoing analysis across all fronts.

Project managers are in charge of organizing every facet of projects, including big undertakings like festivals, large-scale building projects and even crisis management during natural disasters. You’ll work under constant pressure, tight deadlines and budgets. If you’re an adrenaline junky with solid leadership and organizational skills, this may be the career for you.

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