Are Project Managers Adequately Prepared to Handle their Work in 2018?

The modern corporate structure depends heavily on the efficiency of their project managers to complete work efficiently and with speed, which essentially makes everything that they do extremely important for any and all organizations with which they are associated. As can be expected, the responsibilities that come with heading projects are such that the project management training, knowledge, and experience play a huge role in determining the success rate of a particular manager, but there’s more to it now in 2018 than there ever was before. More micromanagement is now necessary, along with updated knowledge about the latest trends in business, which keep changing regularly. Therefore, a fresh look at the necessary skillsets of the project manager is essential to assess the qualities and adequacies that aspiring and experienced project managers are expected to bring to corporate projects in 2018.

The Training

Becoming a project manager is no longer about experience alone because aspiring candidates are expected to have relevant degrees and project management training in the specific field before applying for the job. We’d recommend you try out these project management courses before applying because without the proper training and education to back project managers up, it is likely that they will find themselves ill prepared for the responsibilities and tasks which will come towards them on being hired. The right course will not only teach you the basics of leadership, communication and time management among other things, but it should also update their students with the latest additions which are changing and expanding the role of the project manager in 2018 and beyond.

Leadership Skills

Leadership is one of the primary essential skills expected from a project manager because without it, it would be difficult to control and manage the human aspect of the team. Managing a project isn’t only about getting the parameters right, but it’s also about employee management, which involves conflict resolving, motivating, goal setting, maintaining discipline, ensuring due process and performance evaluation. Those that naturally possess leadership skills make for good project managers, but through project management training, it is possible for everyone to learn and adapt to the role of a leader. In the case of natural leaders, the training hones and augments their innate skills to perfection. The bottom-line is that modern project management isn’t only about managing all the aspects of the concerned project, but also leading it from the front.

Communication Skills

Interpersonal communication skills are essential for every leader and in that respect, they are not different from leadership skills, but rather a major part of the skillset. Someone who cannot communicate his/her views, needs, and directions to the team clearly and authoritatively cannot be expected to handle people management with any degree of effectiveness. There’s more to project management than just clear and authoritative communication though, because the project manager needs to make communication a two-way channel. This means the team members should also have sufficient opportunities to communicate their own ideas to the project and the project manager. Communication cannot ever be a one-way street as that’s what separates it from dictatorships. However, the project manager is not just communicating with the team, but he/she is also communicating with and updating the client and the higher-ups, and that’s where communication skills branch out past the boundaries of leadership skills. While communicating with the clients and the boss/bosses, the project manager needs to change the approach and adjust accordingly to best suit the nature of the conversation, which is not as easy as it sounds. This is why project management training is advised as it specifically teaches managers how to make the switches automatically and instinctively, without affecting the fluency and objective of the said conversation.

Planning and Time Management

At its core, the job of the project manager is to meet deadlines by ensuring maximum efficiency from the team and himself/herself, so planning and time management is absolutely vital to fulfill that objective. For example, there are primarily two sections to planning a project, which involves planning the steps necessary to complete the project well before the deadline and timing each of those steps at exactly the right places within the planned timeline. This is of course, just an oversimplification of the concept, and the actual process involves constant and numerous micromanagements. Everything from meeting plans and work statements, to estimates and briefs are included in the job description of the project manager.

The thing is that the job of the project manager becomes unnecessarily hard when higher-ups and clients have unrealistic expectations and deadlines, which is thrust upon the project manager to meet. How well he/she manages to handle that stress and come out with a plan to do the impossible is what makes a great project manager, but there is one more thing to consider here. Taking on unrealistic deadlines in order to prove one’s worth is not advised because more often than not, such rookie mistakes result in either subpar work or a failure to meet the deadline. Good project managers realize the difference between a seemingly impossible deadline and a truly impossible one, which he/she then communicates to the client and negotiates using the aforementioned communication skills to convince them of the timeline’s implausibility and get it extended towards a more practical one.

To improve the time management, it is essential to first quantify the hours you and your team has to work on the project each day and then get into dividing those hours in between different sections of the work. Individual time allotment and deadlines are also necessary to ensure that each member of the team is not just contributing, but also staying on the same schedule as everyone else. A few effective methods of time management can be stated as below.

  • Daily team and individual goals
  • Prioritizing various sections of the project as required
  • Performance tracking
  • Reallocating delayed work immediately
  • Elimination of distracting elements from the workspace
  • Scrapping unnecessary meetings in favor of productivity

A point to remember is that work-efficiency suffers the moment stress begins to build-up, and that’s why breaks are necessary and team activities are required every once in a while, to bust stress, regain/boost productivity, and build teamwork.

Risk Assessment

The project manager is often praised when the project goes well, but they are also the ones to receive the brunt of the blame if something goes wrong. This is why risk assessment is an essential part of the job. Proper project management training teaches the basics, but this is one of those areas where experience plays a greater role. Risk identification, planning and monitoring is an ongoing process as a whole, as well as on an individual level. The following few common project risks should provide an introduction to risk identification, but it’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Problematic individuals who might disrupt the flow of the project
  • Unavailability of necessary resources
  • Poor resource allocation
  • Poor communication among team members
  • Unrealistic expectations by the client
  • Inadequate workforce
  • Ill-defined goals and scopes
  • Impractical budget
  • Changes in strategy that could be counterproductive

Looking at just some of the work associated with project management in 2018 gives you a decent idea of how complicated the job has become now. It is not that project managers who don’t meet all the criterions can’t do the job, but they will just not be able to do it with the same efficiency, speed, and success rate as the modern, trained managers who have received updated project management training.