People are the primary resource on any project, so training project managers to manage people with your project management office (PMO) is an important task. Not all project managers will have their team directly reporting to them, but having people skills is still necessary.

Depending on the career trajectory thus far, your project managers (PMs) maybe people-oriented, or process and deliverable focussed. However, they landed working under your PMO, you can expect them to be leading people who work on the project they manage.

You want to make sure that your PMs can get the best performance out of their team, whether they’re the direct report or working in conjunction with a line manager. To make sure you get the best out of your PM team, we’ll be looking at:

  • The typical people management skills a PM will have
  • What results you can expect from well-managed people
  • Different methods you can use for delivering training

What people management skills do project managers need?

Project managers need to be able to work with the people who will ultimately get the project delivered. Everyone in a project needs to work towards the project KPIs, and a PM needs to be able to drive this alignment.


A PM needs to understand the skills of the people available to them when planning the project and assigning tasks. It’s not the skills that need to be understood, but how to get that message across to the team in a positive and inspiring way.

Keeping track of the delegated tasks and instilling accountability is another skill. Knowing how to run an effective feedback session will see long-term change in team members.

Strategic alignment

Each team member must be pulling in the right direction to get the project completed successfully. The PM must understand how the project fits in with the strategic aims of the business and get that message across to the team.

PMs need to set and monitor KPIs and explain why they’re important. Delivering regular performance updates in a range of ways and at different intervals also helps.

Conflict resolution

There may be times when people can come into conflict with each other. These situations do need to be resolved and may require the help of an HR department where necessary. Other conflicts can be when a person’s skills are needed in more than one place or when there are competing needs for people to access space or technology.

The skills needed in this situation are calmness and logical thinking to get a conclusion that can keep people happy and not interfere with objectives and overall delivery.

What outcomes can I expect from training my PMs in people management?

When the people on a team are well managed, you will see a range of benefits both in the working environment and in the KPIs your projects and your PMO have.

Some of the positive outcomes you can expect when running people management training for PMs are:

  • Better quality deliverables because the right people have work on the right tasks
  • Higher staff retention, keeping knowledge and skills in the business and on your projects
  • A wider talent pool will be available to you since people will want to work on well-run projects

All of which should mean your PMO will directly benefit.

What methods should I use to train people management skills?

There are different skills that need training, meaning you will need to approach each with a different training style. Having a well-maintained LMS will be a good start to hold digital training, but there are other effective options available.

To give training about leadership and working with people, off-site training can be useful. It will be a more relaxed environment for learning soft skills, which will help role-playing and trying new ideas.

Outsourcing training around conflict resolution works because they’re not skills you expect to have access to in your PMO. Working with an external training company can also bring fresh ideas around delivering difficult messages.

The take-home

Training your project managers in people management with your PMO might not seem relevant to your work. However, having PMs that are able to delegate, keep projects working towards business goals, and ensuring there is no conflict will reap measurable results for your office and the business.