Upskilling for project managers – how to thrive in a changing future

One of the biggest challenges that organisations find themselves facing at the moment is the requirement to up-skill their workforce so that they are ready, and able to meet the demands of the future. This is, of course, in addition to any issues with supply chains that they might be experiencing. Plus, any rising attrition and any potential cybersecurity-related issues that might arise in the future. These are just a few of the challenges that organisations could find themselves facing, and this means that now more than ever, they need to have someone with project management qualifications on board is vital.

When it comes to employment, there really has never been a better time to be in a role in the field of project management. There is no shortage of employers looking for people to fill project management roles, and there is certainly not a lack of projects to go around. With an eye to rising customer demands, companies are looking to ensure that they not only digitise all of their operations but also that they address any critical issues and all of this needs to be done in a market that is rather crowded.  

Provided that it is possible, and it should be, to fill the gap between current ability and the required skills, then the future looks very bright for those individuals who have project management skills.  

The need is growing

Way back in 2018, the PMI published a report on job growth and the talent gap for the period 2017 – 2027, in which they made the projection that by 2027 there is likely to have been a 33% growth of roles in project-orientated fields.

It makes sense that we might see a spike of this kind as all strategies can be delivered via projects. However, with the increase of things like digitisation, there is an increasing gap between the need for people with these skills and the availability of people to fill the gaps. 

It is worth noting that the report was undertaken before the pandemic hit, and the move to working at home. Many companies have increasingly found this option to be more beneficial for their employees, and in fact, more productive. This has meant the need is now even more urgent as this change in working habits means being more organised and paying closer attention to the details. 

The skills that people should be looking at are not just those all-important soft skills, which really matter, but also their technical skills as well. If they take the attitude that they can work on them later, then they risk falling behind when it comes to employability.

Increasing expectations from project managers

When it comes to the necessary key skills, there are no shortages of differences in opinion on what might make a great project manager. The project manager of today is no longer simply responsible for getting the job done, they are also ensuring that good business results are attained and also for motivating and inspiring the team. 

It is important that everyone has the necessary core project management skills. Work must then be done from that point onwards in order to ensure that project managers stand the best chance in this ever-changing environment. In addition to brushing up on their communication skills at the very minimum, project managers should also be making sure that they understand the basics of time management, task management and risk management. 

The key project management skills to consider

Collaborative leadership

This style of leadership requires that there be a partnership between lead and employee. The role itself will contribute to the growth of the project or the organisation as a whole. This is a skill that can be improved, but it is important to consider that the organisational culture or environment may need to change for there to be success. 

Human-centred design

Traditionally the operating model for a strategy that is focused on ROI is one that follows a business model that is customer-focused. Design solutions, therefore, need to be created with the end user in mind. They should also include any necessary environmental and social factors. 

Visualisation / data science

Measurements of performance should be accurate in order to help with effective decision-making. A project manager should consider who any information will be for, what key insights might be made and if the data supports any decision-making. 

Benefits realisation 

Strategic value and outcomes are something that we hear about all the time. However, they are not something that every organisation places as a priority. There needs to be a shift in focus when it comes to the value that a customer receives. Agile has unfortunately made it more complicated for us to articulate benefits on all fronts, but an efficient project manager is able to build on this skill set. Where there is a lack of this ability, it is harder to get the resources needed to deliver quality on time.

Persuasive communication 

Strong communication is a must when it comes to soft skills, and there really is always room for improvement. The project manager now needs to be able to communicate across languages, cultures, time zones, and even different types of media to adapt to the ever-changing world face of the project team. No longer are project teams all based in the same office or even country, and working around the complexities of a team who are spread out means that communication can be something of a challenge.

In short, it is vital for project managers to ensure that they, and the members of their team, are constantly looking at the skill set that they do have and improving on it. Project management is changing at such a pace that when someone falls behind, they could end up staying behind, and this could result in workplace difficulties in a field that cannot afford it.

Read Also: How to Organize Your Employees as a Construction Project Manager



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