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When it comes to the craft of digital project management, there are some core skills that are always the first to surface.

There are technical skills and hard skills like risk management, earned value management, project planning, estimation, and maintaining project documentation.

Then there are the requisite soft skills like leadership, negotiation, crisis management, and communication skills.

These are all the usual suspects that find their way into most project management textbooks, classes, workshops, and webinars.

But I think there is also a notable subset of project management skills that almost never come up and yet are extremely valuable skills to possess as a project manager.

They’re the ones that are rarely ever taught, are seldom listed in a job description, and yet can have a massive impact on project delivery and the overall value you provide as a project manager.

Here are, in my opinion, the most underrated project management skills:

1. Seeing what’s missing

It’s great if you can comprehend a set of assumptions or a client request. But often the most important thing is actually figuring out what’s been left unanswered that will come back and bite you later if you don’t raise it right now. That’s next-level risk management if you ask me.

2. Giving constructive feedback

Whether it’s offering pointers on a presentation or pointing out that a deliverable missed the requirements by a country mile, you will at some stage need to provide feedback to help your team members improve and grow…without bringing them to tears or eroding relationships. Not easy!

3. Being supportive of your team (and even your stakeholders!)

We joke that part of the job is being a cheerleader, but I don’t know if everyone truly gets how important this is. Projects are an emotional roller-coaster fraught with drama, chaos, and ambiguity.

If there’s one thing that helps lead a project team through tough times, it’s the ability to be supportive, empathetic, and compassionate when it counts the most.

What’s Next?

And while all of these skills can be learned on the job, I have found that they are best honed in a controlled and safe-to-fail environment. That’s why we’ve built our Mastering Digital Project Management course a bit differently than the average class.

Do we teach the usual hard and soft skills you need to be a DPM? Absolutely.

But we also challenge you to fill in the gaps of a real-world scenario, help you build confidence in providing feedback, and encourage a tight-knit class culture that is supportive of one another.

Wondering which skills are most in-demand for companies hiring project managers? Find out here! But, there are some skills that project managers just don't have.

Galen Low
By Galen Low

Galen is a digital project manager with over 10 years of experience shaping and delivering human-centered digital transformation initiatives in government, healthcare, transit, and retail. He is a digital project management nerd, a cultivator of highly collaborative teams, and an impulsive sharer of knowledge. He's also the co-founder of The Digital Project Manager and host of The DPM Podcast.