Top 15 Must-Have Skills for Effective PMO Managers

This week we are focusing on PMO Managers, and we are taking a look at the key skills they need to perform their role effectively. These skills are outlined in the Competency Framework and highlighted in the Essentials for PMO Managers course. 

The purpose of the PMO Manager role is to set up, run, transform, and close an office that supports portfolio, programme, and project (P3M) delivery and capability. They also have many other responsibilities which have recently been highlighted in another blog we released ‘The Key Responsibilities of a PMO Manager‘. To be able to perform all their tasks and responsibilities, a competent PMO Manager must be able to demonstrate certain skills. 

Skills are the learned ability to do something and there are many different skills the PMO professional uses regularly. 


Here are the top 15 skills for effective PMO Managers as highlighted in the PMO Competency Framework:

  1. Balance competing needs and interests – PMO Managers have many interactions and relationships, customers and stakeholders, their own team, departments and executive leaders – all have different wants and needs that the PMO has to service.
  2. Exercise professional judgement – PMO Managers don’t have all the answers! Due to the nature of change, it’s uniqueness, there will always be times when decisions need to be made based on judgement rather than past experiences. That judgement needs to be sound
  3. Coach and Mentor – PMO Managers tend to be people with experience and insights, with a inbuilt desire to help others (after all, that’s what the PMO is all about – helping and supporting others!) Whether that’s formal coaching and mentoring or making yourself available for others to seek you out, it takes a set of skills to coach or mentor well.
  4. Consult – with the PMO Manager role there is a need to seek out advice and guidance occasionally so consult from the ‘asking’ perspective is necessary. PMO Managers are also called upon for their input, guidance, advice and challenge – to be part of creating solutions and ways forward, and that takes a consultative approach.
  5. Delegate and Empower – the PMO Manager role is often a line management role too, the ability to pull together a high performing team, to empower the team to do the best they can do.
  6. Engage – engagement for a PMO Manager is all about the way we choose to build relationships, get involved in activities that need the PMO perspective being represented, to take an active part of showcasing and championing the PMO across the organisation
  7. Manage conflict – not exclusive to the PMO Manager role, managing conflict well is a requirement of any manager or leader – and the PMO definitely sees its fair share of conflict across the delivery organisation. The PMO should be able to act as mediator when required.
  8. Motivate – motivation of the PMO team is certainly one area for the PMO Manager to utilise their people and performance skills but also think about the times where new processes or ways of working are introduced and the appetite is low. Motivation skills certainly come to the fore then!
  9. Influence others – PMO Managers need to lead by example, show their commitment to the valuable work PMOs offer to organisations today. Living and breathing the objectives, vision and goals and communicating progress regularly is a sure fire way to build trust and credibility.
  10. Inspire – PMO Managers set the tone, the work ethic, the dynamics of their team. They build the team morale, camaraderie and ultimately inspired others to work towards their goals. Who wouldn’t want to be an inspiration?
  11. Think creatively – there are always ways that improvements can be made often just tiny which have a big impact. The ability to think differently and to spark ideas, the PMO Manager also gives permission to the PMO team to be curious, to be more creative in finding solutions to the challenges they face.
  12. Data assimilation – for PMO Managers today, data, information, insights and actions form a massive part of the role. It’s the combination of hard facts, observations, past experiences that are all brought to bear on everyday P3M work.
  13. Solve problems – PMO Managers come across problems, challenges and issues every single day. Whether it’s a simple act of communicating clearer, seeing others perspectives, actively listening or needing a solution to a big wicked problem – no PMO Manager can shy away from being a problem-solver.
  14. Demonstrate business and commercial acumen – for PMO Managers in organisations today, they don’t work in isolation from the rest of the business. An understanding of how their organisation operates is one side – and there is also the need to understand basic principles of finance, contract law, regulations and policies too.
  15. Think strategically – there has certainly been an increase in the number of PMOs operating at the higher, portfolio level in an organisation – an understanding of the business strategic objectives. Thinking strategically is also about the ability to see the big picture, analysis and synthesis, alignment of goals and objectives.

If you are currently a PMO Manager or moving into this role and would like further information on the skills to be an effective PMO Manager, then look no further! The Essentials for PMO Managers training gives you the essential knowledge and understanding to undertake the role of a PMO Manager. The course covers the P3M and PMO context, the four key roles within a PMO, and the competencies required to successfully undertake the role – including governance, delivery frameworks, assurance, capability, and capacity. Click here to read more about the course! 

The next Essentials for PMO Managers course is coming up in April. The course is virtual and taught via Zoom so you can join from anywhere in the world and the price of the course includes the PMO Service Catalogue, PMO Competency Framework, exam, and printed materials! Click here to book your place! 

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