5 PM Skills They Didn’t Teach You in College

Carleton is an Associate Director Portfolio Management in Queensland, Australia.

As a newly minted project professional, I thought I had the latest in project management skills. In a sense, I did—but what I still had to learn was a lot about project management in the real world. These are the skills that I only learned through hard-won experience, but almost all of them could have been taught. Here are five other skills I wish I had learned at the same time…

1. Working with people: As a project manager, you learn about half of what you need to know from your course (like schedules and budget, the so-called “hard” skills). The other, less well-defined half consists of the “soft” skills such as communication, interpersonal skills and teamwork. These are the skills that come with practical exposure, and many of them relate to how you work with other people.

Workplace culture lies at the broad end of this spectrum. Every workplace has its own unique culture, sometimes referred to as “the way we do things here.” Your manager will have chosen you for your project management role, in part, because of your fit with this culture. Do you understand the often-unwritten rules that describe how people work with each other in your environment?

Toward the more personal end lies office politics. A project manager should have a clear understanding of who really holds the power in an office—and the motivations …

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"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

- Mark Twain