8 in-demand project management skills

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When you think of project managers, what skills come to mind?

Many people may be tempted to list attributes such as good organizational skills, effective time management, or a multitude of technical project management skills, but are these the attributes employers will be looking for in the near future? Not all project managers are created the same, and not all project management skills will be valued in the same way.

By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 700,000 additional project management jobs in the United States according to a Talent Gap report from the Project Management Institute (PMI). These jobs will be located primarily in utilities, construction, information services, oil and gas, finance and insurance, manufacturing and business services.

[Related: 12 questions project managers should be prepared for in a job interview]

As a Project Manager (PM), do you have what employers are looking for?

A PMI and Anderson Economic Group white paper on “Building High-Performance Project Talent” shows that over the past few years, 83% of employers have had minor to significant difficulties in finding qualified project managers. led to the following:

  • A drop in quality (31%)
  • An inability to innovate effectively (29%)
  • Cancellation or postponement of strategic initiatives (27%)

So what skills will employers value in the next generation of project managers?

next generation project management skills Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013

1. Technical skills in project management

Among the top three most in-demand skills, technical knowledge is seen as a key element that employers need, but which they believe is difficult to find. As these technical skills are primarily process-based, they are easier to teach than other attributes that some project managers possess.

2. Leadership skills

Although technical skills are essential and without them it is difficult to manage projects effectively, some soft skills, such as exceptional leadership abilities, will be a much higher priority for employers. In fact, according to PMI, 66% of organizations consider leadership skills to be the most valuable trait of a successful PM. What makes it hard to find is the fact that not all project managers are good at it. If you are a project manager with this in-demand ability, you might be in high demand.

3. Strategic and business management spirit

If you have exceptional leadership skills and understand fully how project management can activate business strategy, you may be among a small percentage of project managers that many employers will seek out. Employers rank this as one of the top three “Next Generation PM Skills” in PMI’s “Building High Performance Project Talent”.

4. Expertise in change management and organizational development

Change is a constant in business and most certainly in project management. When asked what his clients look for in a project manager, Tony Kirschner, partner at Davies Park Executive Search, offered this advice: “Recently my clients have been looking to incorporate the softer, managerial types of skills change and OD (organizational development). in the project management function. They demand PMs who do more than just ‘tick the boxes’, and can provide a more integrated approach to managing large projects and the associated organizational change. “

5. Top-notch communication skills

To ensure the success of projects, it is important that project managers practice and encourage clear, continuous and transparent lines of communication with key stakeholders at different levels within affected groups. This potentially creates an environment of trust and inclusion, which paves the way for successful project results. Without effective written and verbal communication skills, project managers are missing out on an essential element that can easily derail a project by risking buy-in from team members and stakeholders.

6. Team building and conflict resolution skills

The ability of a project manager to build a cohesive team focused on achieving project goals is a vital skill. It is not always an easy task, and teams often become in conflict, compromising a project. It requires a people-focused leader who has conflict resolution skills, focus, and patience to redirect members to a highly functional team.

7. Adaptable and unfazed qualities

Anyone who has ever managed a project knows that there are always issues that cause stress, ambiguity and conflict. Employers want project managers who they can rely on, who adapt easily to change, and who are unfazed in times of uncertainty and crisis. These traits are especially valuable in times when there is a need to keep others calm, as most people will find it difficult in times of uncertainty or crisis.

8. Exceptional animation skills

Creating an environment in which project teams and stakeholders can collaborate effectively is not always stress free. Finding a PM with strong animation skills can be difficult. Employers want to know that they’ve hired a facilitator who can stay focused on the results of the project and not get caught up in politics, conflicting agendas and side issues that arise during team sessions. Having a great facilitator can be the difference between staying within the scope of the project or missing out on milestones and deadlines altogether.

[Related: How to hire a rock star project manager]

Efficient project execution has become more complicated, and this will only continue in the future. Therefore, it makes sense that project managers who possess these skills, in combination with training and experience in project management, become in high demand.

Employers and recruiters will be looking for these project managers to help them with their project initiatives in support of company goals. As a PM, ask yourself if you have the right skills and qualities that employers will be looking for.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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