October 21, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Growth Program for New Project Managers to Help Close the Talent Gap

By Linky van der Merwe

Growth Program for new Project ManagersImagine living in a world where there are 66 million jobs with a growing demand of 2.2 million per year that have to be filled? These jobs require people to implement strategic initiatives, drive change and deliver innovation. Unfortunately, there’s a huge shortage, or talent gap as it’s called, to fill these roles which could result in in a potential loss of some US $207.9 billion in GDP through 2027 for 11 countries that were analyzed.

This is according to the “Job growth and talent gap 2017 – 2027” Report from the Project Management Institute (PMI) published in 2017, based on an assessment of project management employment and industry activity by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG).

Basically it states that there’s a widening gap between employers’ need for skilled project management workers and the availability of professionals to fill those roles.

Talent Gap

These are huge numbers caused by different factors like:

  • A dramatic increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills.
  • Attrition rates, including professionals retiring from the workforce.
  • A significant uptick in demand for project talent, especially in rapidly developing economies such as China and India.

This has resulted in an imperative to encourage more talent to enter the profession and narrow the talent gap.

With this motivation in mind, I want to introduce you to the Fast-track Growth Program for new Project Managers. It’s an online training program that will help transform an inexperienced project manager who really wants to do well on projects or your typical “Accidental Project Manager”, into a competent, confident and credible Project Manager.

We all know that project managers will face many challenges. That includes handling difficult team members, satisfying demanding customers and working towards impossible deadlines. We want more project managers to succeed and fewer projects to fail. To address the huge demand for skilled talent, we need motivated, independent and professional project managers who are willing to make mistakes, learn from them and still continue to deliver successful projects to the best of their abilities.

To assist new project managers on their journey, the Growth Program will fast-track and ease that transition into project management.

Here’s feedback from a few students who have completed the Growth Program.

Case Study 1

Mark works in the Retail Sector and was assigned to me for mentoring. After years of working as a Systems Manager, he was asked to manage a big project due to his experience and background knowledge of the product. The only problem was that he lacked project management experience and he had no prior training.

He was very motivated to learn fast and I invited him to join the Growth Program for new project managers. This was his feedback:

The Growth Program taught me about soft skills and what my individual strengths are. The biggest benefit for me was that the Program really embodies the framework of project management and gave me valuable insight and a plan for future growth as a professional PM”

Since completing the Growth Program, he has become clear about the responsibilities of his new role, he knows where to start, what his next steps are, what additional training he requires and most importantly, how to plan his PM career. He gained much confidence and like other new PM’s I mentored, he has become very independent and mature in managing projects.

Case Study 2

Harshiela comes from a Change Management background and having worked on many projects before, she wanted to transition into the project management role.

She completed the Growth Program and had the following results.

“The Growth Program gave me confidence that I have the core knowledge and skills and ways of working that is required in a PM role. The training program highlighted my technical gaps which are development areas that I can fast track while making the transition from a Change Manager to a Project Manager.

I recommend the Growth Program based on the holistic approach looking at the technical skills, soft skills and competencies required. It also provided me with further learning and career options – it really gives the whole picture for someone starting out in the PM profession.”

Case Study 3

Roelof, a senior professional with a MBA degree, was new to project management and needed coaching. He worked through the Growth Program Training Modules and asked me questions during coaching calls.

It taught him the essential technical project management skills needed, the soft skills required, the importance of Governance to be an effective project manager, as well as the main pitfalls to avoid as a new PM. He walked away with a customised Personal Growth and Development Plan that he could execute in his own time with the confidence of having a clear direction and enough reference material to use daily in his role as a PM or Programme Manager.

Virtual Project Consulting

As the founder of Virtual Project Consulting, it has always been part of my mission to help aspiring and existing project managers. One of the responsibilities I was given in a new Programme Manager role in 2014, was to mentor and coach the organisation’s new project managers.

Fast-track growth programFrom working with many new and accidental project managers, I understand their needs, the challenges they face and their desire to become effective in their new roles quickly. Hence the birth of the “Fast-track Growth Program for New Project Managers.

It’s a self-paced online training program, or with the option of Small Group Coaching Support that will help students grow critical project management competencies, teach them how to overcome their biggest challenges on projects and increase their confidence and impact in the workplace.

If you fall into the category of an ‘Accidental Project Manager’ or you know some-one who does, please refer them and enroll today as the next Growth Program with Group Support will start in October 2017!

Soft Skills for Project Managers

By Linky van der Merwe

Often in Project Management courses there is a big emphasis on the technical skills, also called ‘hard skills’ which are the occupational requirements that project managers need to do their jobs effectively. This would include the creation of tangible deliverables like a project schedule, project budget, status reports etc.

Soft skills for PM'sSoft skills complement hard skills.  Soft skills are the important interpersonal skills you need as a project manager to accomplish work through other people.  Soft skills are essentially people skills – the non-technical, intangible, personality-specific skills that determine your strengths as a leader, listener, negotiator and conflict mediator.

Developing your soft skills is equally important, but is often left to project managers to find suitable courses that would equip them with adequate soft skills like Leadership, Conflict Management and Emotional Intelligence.

Soft skills development

Why would you ask, are soft skills that important? Soft skills refer to behavioural skills – a sociological term relating to the cluster of personality traits and behavioural competencies that characterize relationships with other people.

Since projects are delivered or executed through people, your soft skills are like the glue that will hold the project team together when the going gets tough, for example when projects fall behind, or immovable deadlines are looming, or the normal stress coming from project delivery and dealing with issues.

At the end of the day a project manager wants a balance of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are more technical in nature where as soft skills are intangible and less visible. Soft skills are typically employed without the use of tools and templates. Soft skills can be taught, but they are typically honed by years of experience.

How to improve soft skills

When you set out to improve your soft skills as a project manager, there are 3 key things you need to remember.

  1. Make the commitment to learn and improve
  2. Put yourself in situations where you can practice various soft skills
  3. Evaluate your progress and adjust as needed

At this point you may be wondering if there is a finite list of soft skills to focus on as a project manager. According to my research there are at least 11 soft skills that should be part of your make-up as a professional project manager. They are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Team building
  3. Motivation
  4. Communication including active listening
  5. Influencing
  6. Decision making
  7. Political and cultural awareness
  8. Negotiation
  9. Conflict management
  10. Emotional intelligence
  11. Problem solving

Over the years I’ve published many articles on various soft skills. For more interesting articles with practical advice on developing your soft skills, continue reading about Leadership, Team build, Communication, Decision making and Emotional Intelligence.

If you are new to project management and you are serious about developing yourself as a professional project manager, please look at the Fast-track Growth Program which was especially developed for people like you in mind. It’s an online, self-paced training program for busy professionals which will give you the essential elements for project delivery. It’s the fastest way to grow critical Project Management competencies like technical and interpersonal skills, and becoming a confident project manager!

PMI Survey – Pulse of the Profession 2016

By Linky van der Merwe

PMI Survey - Pulse of the ProfessionRecently PMI has conducted their 8th global project management survey and published the results in the PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2016 Report, called: “The High Cost of Low Performance”.

While expecting to see improvement from previous years, the results showed a decline in projects meeting their goals. The aim of this research is to strengthen conversations about the benefits project management delivers to organisations.

Here are a few highlights of the report, and click here for Pulse of the Profession 2016.

In line with the PMI Talent Triangle that embodies a skill set combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise, 40% more projects will meet their goals and original intent if they are managed by PM’s with these skills.

Organisations that align their EPMO with strategy report 27% more projects deliver successfully, and 42% fewer projects with scope creep.

When more than 80 percent of projects have an actively engaged executive sponsor, 65 percent more projects are successful. Yet, on average, only three in five projects have engaged executive sponsors.

Many challenges remain, like the fact that only 6 out of 10 organisations use standardised project management practices and benefits realisation remains low on 17%.

The demand for skilled and experienced project/program managers are on the rise.

Recommendations are made to address the situation including the following:

  1. Invest in ongoing project manager training
  2. Offer defined career path to those engaged in project or programme management
  3. Establish formal processes to develop project management competencies
  4. Transfer knowledge

Many benefits of formal project management are given, but the most important message is to keep spreading discussion around the strategic value of project management by following proven practices like aligning the PMO with organisational strategy, and more as explained in the Report.

In response to the challenges that exist and following recommendations made by the PMI, I have developed a Fast-track Growth Program to assist business professionals who are new to the project manager role, to help them become competent, confident and efficient. The online education teaches critical project management competencies like technical skills you need for the role, soft skills you use daily, the importance of governance, how to overcome common challenges and avoid typical pitfalls. It also addresses career options and helps to define a career path.  Project managers will walk away with a personalised growth and development plan to take action immediately.

Fast-track Growth ProgramThis accelerated Growth Program is available to all new or accidental project managers, as well as PMO Managers who want to improve skills of new project managers at their organisations. Please visit today and help to improve the project management maturity that will lead to more success!

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