A project manager listening in a meeting with a team member.There are many different skills you need to master in order to become an effective project manager. However, not all of them are technical skills which you can learn from a book or a training course.

One good example I can think of here is to do with your listening skills. You might have the rest of the knowledge and experience needed to do the job well but if you don’t listen properly then you are going to make your life a lot more difficult than it has to be. Here are a few different examples of why it is important to listen well and how you can go about doing this as well.

Understand the Objectives

When you are first assigned a new project you will probably be given a written brief. This is fine but you will then need to speak to a variety of different people in order to firm up on the details and get the definitive objectives written down clearly. At this point you need to use your listening skills to ensure that you get the exact details you need to get the project on the right track. What you need to remember here is that not everyone will be able to explain what they want as clearly as they would like. For example, a business end user might want a faster or better process for doing whatever they do but they probably couldn’t explain it you in any greater detail than this. What this means is that you need to ask the right questions and then listen carefully to the answers you are given. If you aren’t clear on anything then feel free to repeat what they said and confirm that you understood it correctly.

Pay Attention to the Stakeholders

The stakeholders are likely to talk to you a lot during the project lifecycle and it is vital that you know how to listen them. You need the stakeholders on your side to make a success of your role and ignoring them or misunderstanding them is the worst possible way of going about it. You might not always feel that you have the time to listen to their issues, suggestions or complaints doing this is a big part of the project manager role and will make the job easier for you in the future. Of course, this isn’t just about listening to them during the regular project meetings. You can also expect phone calls and emails from your stakeholders which you will need to deal with professionally while taking their points into account.

Run the Meetings Well

Your project meetings with the stakeholders and team meetings with your project team are likely to be among the most challenging parts of the entire piece of work for you. It can be tough to move the meetings forward while taking everyone’s comments into account as well. One good tactic here is make it clear that conversations which are important but not part of the agenda should be put on hold and then carried on after the meeting. By doing this you avoid the risk of derailing the meeting and also give yourself a better chance of listening properly to what the other person has to say. Just don’t forget to carry on the conversation after the meeting like you promised to do.

Ask Questions

Perhaps the most important point of all is that of asking questions of the people you deal with on the project. It is by doing this that you will give them a chance to explain what they need and what their concerns are. All you then need to do is use your listening skills to understand them. If no one is talking to you about the work then this might seem easier for you but it is possibly a sign that something is wrong. This means that you should look to resolve the issue by getting talking again. It could be that your stakeholders and team members aren’t confident that you will listen to them and this is why they don’t talk to you as much as you would like. If this is the case then you need to show them that you are good at listening. This should encourage them to open up and speak to you about what they think. The more questions you ask the more answers you are going to be given and that is great news for your chances of making a success of the piece of work.