Project Managers are in Demand in 2021
One of the booming careers in 2021 is project management. In fact, there are estimates suggesting jobs for project managers could increase by 33% by 2027. Now, bear in mind, this report was released in 2017, long before we’d heard anything about Covid-19, and it’s entirely possible that estimate could be even higher as a result.
If you’re interested in a project management career, project management certification is essential. Studying the role in depth and earning certification gives you a huge advantage in a competitive workforce. So, let’s take a deeper look into project management and the skills you need.
A changing business landscape
Firstly, we should acknowledge the ever-changing business landscape around us. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organisations to rethink the way they do business. More people have moved to remote or flexible working models, and this means projects are run differently. In fact, with so much change occurring, there are likely to be more projects running, and this is part of the reason project managers are in demand.
Due to this increase in demand for project managers, the hiring process may also look a little different in coming years. More demand and less currently skilled people means organisations will look to those who have gained program management certification through study. Like any career that experiences a surge in demand, experience makes way for education.
What is a project manager?
A project manager is someone who oversees the running of a project from start to finish. They’re responsible for a huge range of things, such as project planning, implementation, team leadership, budget management, reporting and so much more. Naturally, they have a team helping them along the way, but the final responsibility for completing successful projects on time and on budget lies with the manager.
It’s also one of those jobs where you can be very successful if you’ve got the right skills and knowledge, even if you don’t have the experience. That’s why project management certification online has become so popular. The other great thing about project management is it can span across almost every industry. It’s not just construction or development – all types of businesses run projects and need people who are competent at managing them.
Essential skills a project manager needs
Needless to say, there’s a lot of responsibility in the role of project manager. It’s a varied role, requiring people to understand a range of concepts involving leadership, communication, management and even things like technical writing and reporting. Let’s have a look at some of the key skills every project manager needs.
It would come as no surprise that time management is crucial to the role of project manager. With so many different tasks to manage, you need to have great organisation skills. You’ll often be dealing with competing priorities, and there’s nobody telling you which is more important. That’s something you need to assess for yourself, and budget your time accordingly.
There’s also a requirement to be very adaptable. No matter how well a project is planned, there are always going to be changes along the way and issues to resolve. Often, these come out of nowhere and need action immediately, so the project manager needs to be able to quickly move between tasks.
There aren’t many successful project managers around with poor communication skills. Think of all the stakeholders involved in any given project. There’s the company you work for, the team working on the project, there may even be contractors to manage. Then you’ve got external stakeholders which could be anything from councils, government, financial stakeholders and other businesses you rely on.
Being able to communicate effectively, and with influence, is an absolutely critical skill for project management. From reporting to your higher-ups to engaging and motivating your team, communication is at the centre of everything you do.
Some say that people are born leaders. While this may be true, leadership skills can also be taught. That’s all part of any project management course, because you need to be able to lead others to reach positive outcomes. If you’re not able to lead, motivate and inspire your team, the project becomes a whole lot more difficult.
Leadership encompasses so many things, like communication, performance management, setting expectations and much more. Leading by example, using great interpersonal skills and being able to resolve conflict are also traits of a great leader.
Most projects involve a level of negotiation, and it can occur across multiple facets of the job. You may need to negotiate with your finance department on certain expenses. Complex arrangements with external contractors may need negotiation. To an extent, you also need to negotiate with your own team on occasion.
Being able to put your ideas forward in a way that influences others is a key that all successful project managers need. Negotiation and compromise is part of life, but it’s those who do it well who are most likely to achieve results.
Every project has a risk management component. In fact, many projects have multiple risk management requirements. This usually occurs during the planning stage, and while most managers hope for the best, they always need to plan for the worst. It’s essential that you’re able to identify what could go wrong, but more importantly to develop ways to mitigate those risks.
Risk mitigation strategies are part of all project management planning, and it helps put managers in the best position to manage problems if and when they occur.
Ability to motivate others
One of the soft skills a project manager needs is the ability to motivate others. Naturally, a project team is made up of several people, and they all need to be pulling in the same direction. It’s the manager’s role to ensure staff are all working towards a common goal.
You’ll also need to keep staff engaged and happy. With so many deadlines and responsibilities, being part of a project team can be stressful, and it’s the manager’s role to help staff through those difficult periods and create a fun, productive working environment.
Most projects come with a budget, whether it’s determined by the project manager themselves or by someone else. So, in some cases, a project manager may need to accurately assess all expected costs and put forward a proposed budget. In other cases, they’ll be given a predetermined budget to work with.
In both cases, they need to control that budget throughout the lifecycle of the project. This means keeping track of costs, understanding where things might go over budget, and developing ways to limit expenditure. It can be a juggling act, so some financial management skills are certainly required.
In any team situation, there’s bound to be conflict. Whether it’s two separate areas butting heads, members of your team having difficulty with stakeholders, or even conflict within your team. Being able to resolve issues effectively is crucial to the success of a project. Naturally, having everybody working in harmony is the ideal environment, and it’s up to the manager to promote that.
Conflicts need to be resolved quickly, and in a way that both parties can move forward without a problem. As project manager, your interpersonal skills, communication and conflict resolution skills are likely to be tested regularly.
Finally, an often-overlooked element of the project manager’s role is technical writing. It’s up to the project manager to provide written reports to stakeholders at various points throughout a project. Particularly upon project completion, a full report is usually required, and this requires a lot of technical writing.
Even in the planning stages, you’ll need to be skilled at putting together formal project documents, whether it be budgets, guidelines, policy and procedure documents and much more. So, for success in project management, you’ll need to sharpen those technical writing skills.