Project management skills they don’t teach in school

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Discover more about the key project management skills they never teach you in school.

When you take a project management training course, you will quickly be alerted to numerous skills you need that you have never been taught before. Of course, that is what project management courses are all about, especially those that focus on behaviours and attitudes in addition to technical skills, such as the APM PMQ (previously known as the APM PMQ Certification). However, it certainly helps to have a head start by working on these skills at the earliest opportunity – even before you go on the courses that will teach you the technical skills you will need. So, read on to discover more about the key project management skills they never teach you in school.

Responding to change

One thing that certainly takes some getting used to is responding to change. It is unlikely that any project will go exactly how you imagined it to. Because of this, you need to be very adaptive to change. Whenever a client requests an alteration to the project, there should be a formal change management process in place. You also need to be able to react quickly and effectively to those changes that take you by surprise and have not been planned for.

Selecting the right team

At school, when you do any sort of teamwork, you are typically put into groups and you need to work effectively together. Plus, there are always those who put all of the work in while others sit back and have a chat. As a project manager, you are going to be responsible for putting the right team together. Team selection is not something that is ever taught at school or university, and so this can be a bit of a shock to the system. However, your project relies on the people that are working on it, so this is a critical part of the process.


The third and final critical project management skill that is not taught in school is delegation. Having the right team in place is one thing, but then you need to make sure that you have the right people working on the right tasks. You should not simply give takes to the first person who is available – you need to match them based on skill set.

However, you equally need to make sure that you are fully utilising people’s time and that the project is delivered on time, so it can be something of a balancing act. Delegation requires a level of finesse and intent. You also need to be clear what you expect and make sure everyone is aware of his or her roles and responsibilities. Being able to delegate properly can mean the difference between a team that works well together and a team that does not.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding three of the most critical project management skills that are not taught at school or university. If you can master the three skills that have been discussed above, you can give yourself a better chance of succeeding in this career.



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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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