Operational Excellence

The 7 Skills Every Creative Project Manager Needs to Master

by Mike Wang, December 30, 2015

Understanding how to lead a team is contingent on understanding yourself—especially in the creative industry. From overseeing the big picture to managing the day-to-day, project managers are required to ensure that projects are carefully handled from start to finish.

A project team is nothing without its fearless leader. Need a crash course in project management? Here are seven skills that every project manager needs to master.

1. Communication

Communication is arguably a project manager’s most important skill set to master—no matter the project, client, or campaign. You may have the best creative resources at hand, but if you can’t facilitate an effective exchange of ideas across your team, your hands are tied And it’s a whole lot more than simple sweet talk. Stakeholders can see right through charm and empty promises.

In short, communicate effectively and you will get things done.

2. Inspiration and motivation

The best leaders are those who create a vision of the future that is as compelling as it is attainable. And they motivate their employees to achieve these goals. A culture of inspiration and positive reinforcement motivates your team to perform at their best. And focusing on creating this environment for your employees will breed talent, internal growth, and creativity across your project team.

3. Integrity and honesty

This should go without saying, but great leaders are honest and transparent. They follow through with promises and deliver results. Leading by example, or walking the walk, is the best way to encourage results from your team.

4. Self-awareness

A successful project team is nothing without a stable leader. And success begins within. Philosophy aside, knowing yourself ensures that your team can be the best they can be. When you have a sense of your role, it encourages you to do something about it.

5. Conflict management

Conflict management is usually a sticky situation—but in the creative industry especially, people will get into disagreements on projects (c’mon, many of us have major egos). And these squabbles must be mitigated and addressed as soon as they begin in order to avoid future conflict. Understand the disagreement, confront the disagreement, and ensure that those involved walk away feeling comfortable with the proposed solution.

6. Agility and adaptability

As you know, projects change all the time. Adapting to change requires a willingness to stay open to new ideas—and the know-how to adapt to new situations.  Whether it’s scope or resources, it’s important to be able to act swiftly and intelligently.

7. Industry knowledge

In the past, project management was considered a generic skill set. The reasoning was that if you could draw a project plan, execute, and monitor project issues, then you’d make a successful project manager.

Fast-forward to 2015, and this is no longer true. As a project manager in the cutthroat creative industry, it’s vital to have specific industry knowledge. Knowing the ins and outs of agency life is really the only way to ensure successful campaigns.

ultimate guide to creative project management

About The Author

Mike joined Workamajig back in 1997 and now serves as the Workamajig Director of Training and Support.

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