Project Skills

Project skills allow us to accomplish tasks and goals in a timely and efficient manner. And as we all know life is full of tasks and goals that have to be accomplished, both at home and at work.

Solid personal strengths provide a good foundation for developing project skills. For instance with self-confidence, we believe we can achieve realistic goals. Self-discipline keeps us on track and personal goal setting teaches us how to lay out a realistic plan with a realistic timeframe.

Many projects, especially at work, involve interacting with other people, so strong relationship skills are also important. Assertiveness helps to insure that all views are heard and considered. Conflict resolution skills help prevent small disagreements from becoming major conflicts. And being able to successfully interact with people who have very different perspectives makes working together toward a common goal much easier.

Project skills may overlap with some personal and relationship skills, but differ in the sense that they focus primarily on the best way to complete a specific job. This is in contrast to personal strengths that focus on individual wants, needs, dreams and goals; and relationship skills that focus on general interaction with others.

Six Fundamental Skills Create a Common Sense Approach to Any Project:

1. Motivation is primarily a personal strength, but it is a good place to start when thinking about project skills. If the task is fun or something we are looking forward to doing, the motivation is already there. If not, these questions may help build motivation:

- Purpose: Why do I have to accomplish this task?

- Benefits: What's in it for me?

- Consequences: What will happen if I don't do it?

- Resolve: I will complete this task because...

(Keeping the reason for the task and its importance in mind should provide the ongoing motivation needed to complete it.)

2. Organization, one of the most important project skills, is the next thing to consider after determining why the task must be done. The following questions may be helpful in organizing a task or project, although some may not appy to every project:

- Deadline: When can I realistically expect to complete this task?

- Supplies: Do I need materials or tools to complete this task? What are they and where will I get them?

- Research: Do I need additional information to complete this task? Where will I get it?

- Support: Are there other people involved in this task? If so, who are they and what part do they play?

- Timetable: What are the steps involved in completing this task and when does each have to be done?

3. Persistence is extremely important, once the project has begun. Don't give up! We only fail in life, when we give up completely. Remember the reason for the task, and keep reminding yourself of the benefits and/or consequences attached to completing or not completing the task. With any task or project there can be and probably will be mistakes and setbacks along the way. Thankfully, there are almost always options for dealing with these challenges.

4. Flexibility is also important. Realize upfront that plans rarely develop exactly the way they are laid it out. The deadline might have to change. You may need more or different supplies and/or information. You may need more support, or lose the support you expect to have. Steps may take longer to complete, or get done much sooner than expected.

In any of these cases, adjustments may have to be made to the original plan. That's okay, as long as the project is completed in a timely and efficient manner.

5. Problem-solving can play a large part in flexibility. It's one thing to expect minor mistakes and setbacks, but quite another to have to deal with very large mistakes and setbacks. In fact, handling an unforeseen challenge could actually be considered a minor project within the larger project. The following steps may be helpful in handling challenges through problem-solving:

- Stay Calm. Often not easy, but worth the effort. Excessive emotion can make matters worse.

- Evaluate. Take some time to consider the impact this challenge could have on the project itself.

- Explore Options. List all possible ways this challenge could be handled. And outline the benefits and/or consequences attached to each.

- Choose the Solution. Select the option with the most benefits and least consequences. This is the best solution to the problem.

6. Leadership, is a very important project skill if several people are involved in completing the task. Leadership is closely associated with teamwork, because being a leader means being part of a team.

There are definitely unique duties and responsibilities associated with a leadership position. However, a good leader knows that his or her level of interaction and cooperation with other team members should be equal to theirs. Leaders who feel they are above the other members may soon find themselves without any followers.