The Number One Skill For A Project Manager

There are a lot of people out there touting secrets for better project management. Acronyms abound. Websites offering courses all over the internet promise you a better skill set, for a price.

Here’s the secret.


Your team is not a cluster of machines. They’re people. With human foibles, shortcomings, needs, wants, dreams, and desires.

If you can put yourself in a team member’s shoes, you’re more than halfway to being able to guide them, motivate them, keep them giving their all for the project, and being happy and hardworking employees.

You know the best part? You already have the tools necessary. People are empathetic by nature. Growing empathy is easy – all you need to do is remove the things that affect it negatively.

It’s hard to empathize with an employee when the due date for a project is weighing down on you. It’s hard to empathize with an employee when their failure goes on your record. It’s hard to empathize with an employee when you have your own concerns on your mind. And its hardest to empathize with an employee when what seems to matter is delivery and success.

calvin and hobbes empathyTake a step back.

You’re a project manager. You know how crucial the team is to reaching delivery. Without team buy in, motivation, and effort, the project is doomed. You know this.

Sure, Kevin can be a little abrasive. And Karen has that annoying tendency to forget things she isn’t reminded about constantly. And yes, your boss is breathing down your neck. But you need to be able to cut through all that and ask yourself – how do I get the team to buy in, stay motivated, and put in their best efforts?

The answer to that is empathy.

Show them you care – and also, actually care. Rejoice in their successes, be with them in the moment when they fail, cheer them on, celebrate the milestones along the journey. Care about the team, and watch the team care about the project. It’s that simple.

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