Project Manager’s Interpersonal Skills

By Heashan

Project managers accomplish work through the project team and other stakeholders. Effective project managers acquire a balance interpersonal, technical, conceptual skills that help them analyses situations. Following are the important interpersonal skills:

  • Leadership
  • Team building
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Decision making
  • Political and cultural awareness
  • Negotiation
  • Trust building
  • Conflict management
  • Coaching


This involves focusing the efforts of a set of people toward a common goal enabling them to work as a team. Leadership is the ability to get things done through others. Important throughout all project phases, leadership is important during the beginning phases of a project. The project team leaders, throughout the project are responsible for establishing and maintaining the vision, strategy, and communications and team building.

Team building

This is the process of helping a group of individuals, bound by a common purpose, to work with each other, the leader, external stakeholders, and the organization. The result of good leadership and good team building is teamwork.

This is essential during the beginning of a project. And also this is an ongoing process. Changes in a project environment are inevitable. In order to manage changes efficiently, team-building effort is required. The output of the team building includes mutual trust among the team members, high quality of information exchange, better decision making and efficient & effective project management.


Base on the level of motivation, the overall success of the project depends. Most important factor is the team commitment. Motivating in a project involves creating an environment to meet objectives of the project while providing maximum satisfaction.


This is one of the biggest reasons for project success or failure. Communication between the Project manager, team members and all external stakeholders are needed. Awareness of the factors such as relationships, personalities, cultural norms leads to mutual understanding and effective communication. Project managers should identify several communication channels and understand what information they need to provide, receive. And also listening is a crucial part of communication.


This is a strategy of sharing power and depending on interpersonal skills to get others to cooperate towards common goals. Following are the guidelines which helps to influence team members:

  • Lead by example and follow through with commitments.
  • Clarify how a decision will be made.
  • Use a flexible interpersonal style.

Decision Making

Mainly there are four decision styles which are used by project managers. Namely command, consultation, consensus and coin flip. And also there are four main factors that affect the decision style. Namely time constraints, trust, quality and acceptance. Mostly project managers make decision individually. Sometimes they may involve the project team as well in the decision making process. Decision making process includes six phases:

  • Problem definition.
  • Problem solution generation.
  • Ideas to action.
  • Solution action planning.
  • Solution evaluation planning.
  • Evaluation of the outcome and process.

Political and cultural Awareness

The effective use of politics and power helps the project manager to be successful. In other words, ignoring or avoiding project politics and inappropriate use of power can lead to difficulty in managing projects. An effective way to manage the cultural diversity is through getting to know the various team members and the use of good communication.


This is an integral part of project management which increases the probability of project success. Below skills and behaviors are useful in negotiating successfully:

  • Focus on interests and issues.
  • Ask high and offer low.
  • Analyze the situation.
  • Listen attentively and commutate articulately.

Trust Building

The critical component in effective team leadership is to build trust across the project team and other key stakeholders. Trust is associated with cooperation, information sharing and effective problem resolution. Following are some actions that project managers can take to help build trust:

  • Keep all stakeholders informed (When commitment is at risk).
  • Engage in open and direct communications to resolve problems.
  • Look beyond your own interests.
  • Spend time directly engaged with the team asking non-assumptive questions.

Conflict Management

This is inevitable in a project management. Project managers must develop the skills and experience necessary to effectively adapt their personal conflict management style to the situation. Managing conflicts is one of the biggest challenges a project manager faces. It draws upon all of the other interpersonal skills of a project manager in order to lead the team to a successful resolution of the situation in conflict.


This means of developing the project team to higher levels of competency and performance. This is about helping people recognize their potential through empowerment and development. Coaching is used to aid team members in developing or enhancing their skills to build new skills required. Coaching can be a powerful motivator for teams.