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Global Flipchart #9



September 2017
| Issue #9

Why facilitation skills are key to project management success

By Kris McCleary, PMP

As a project manager who also teaches project management, I’m often asked: what are the most important skills to succeed as a project manager?

I usually stress the importance of communication and documentation. Getting these two aspects right is critical to the success of a project - and a project manager. But managing communication and documentation well are just ingredients necessary for project success.

Now I think about it, the overall role of the project manager is to facilitate achievement of outcomes. So to be successful, project managers must be facilitators at a high level and a more granular level.

At a high level, a good project manager enables a group to create a common goal for their work, enables the team to work collaboratively, and encourages healthy team participation.  

At a more granular level, much of the day-to-day work of a project manager requires facilitation:

  • facilitating the project kick-off meeting
  • facilitating development of the project scope
  • leading project planning and scheduling
  • spearheading efforts to troubleshoot and problem solve.  

With this in mind, the kind of skills you need to be a successful project manager are some of the same skills you need to be a good facilitator, like the ability to:

  • listen and empathise
  • understand the objectives of the participants
  • create a safe and inclusive environment
  • set and enforce behavioural guidelines
  • give clear instructions
  • manage time.

The absence of any one of these skills can put a project on shaky ground.  

So next time I’m asked what the most important skills for a project manager are, I will say communication and documentation - and good facilitation skills.