With the new year just around the corner, rapidly progressing changes in the workforce and across industries, and a global median salary of $120k as the demand for project managers increases, there has never been a more critical time for project managers to sharpen their skills than now.
More than ever before, businesses are relying on project management practitioners to deliver on the needs of the evolving economy and market. Employers need PMs who are agile, forward-thinking, collaborative, and embrace change.
As you prepare for the business challenges of the new year, there are three critical skills that enable you to stand out as a project manager, that you need to carry with you into the future. These skills not only increase the chances of ensuring project success, but, perhaps more importantly, your career success.
Here are the three skills you need to develop now:
To stay relevant and maintain a competitive edge in the job market requires you to keep abreast of current industry trends, changes in the market, new technologies, and best practices in project management. When you demonstrate eagerness to learn and continue your professional development and training while in your role, you position yourself in a favorable light to your employer, become more efficient in your work, and develop and refine your soft and hard skills such as budgeting, risk management, and leadership.
While continuous learning such as that obtained through a PMP certification or similar is ideal, there are many other ways to advance your training and professional development. For example, you could decide to ask your employer to allow you to work on a range of programs or projects which are slightly outside your expertise or comfort zone, so you can sharpen your skills and refine your areas of improvement.
Being flexible and adaptable is crucial to your success as a project manager. Projects seldom run smoothly, and this is even more the case now as we roll into the new year, with new AI-driven technologies being developed and implemented almost every day. You will need to adjust your approach to accommodate for the use of new technology, and also, considering how volatile markets have been since the pandemic, prepare for the worst case scenarios.
You also need to be ready, at a moment’s notice, to re-evaluate your approach at the demands of stakeholders, navigate complex organizational structures and environments, and learn from your mistakes so you can adjust where necessary.
AI is becoming wildly popular as a strategy to reduce time and risk in work processes—and for good reason; tools that are deployed by artificial intelligence can help project managers become more confident decision-makers and carry out their roles more efficiently, because of the access to data and insights that were previously unavailable or difficult to obtain. You can now save time on many routine tasks, develop project schedules and plans, create slide decks, presentations, and contracts, map out your personal workload, and even record stakeholder meetings and obtain notes and summaries of follow-up action items from meetings, with AI-powered software.
This is definitely a skill you need in your arsenal, as it will free you up to do more creative problem-solving and actually enjoy your job more. With just a little research, you can easily discover free and paid AI productivity tools to enhance your work, streamline communication between cross-functional teams, and even provide you with more accurate forecasting.
The new year poses many challenges—but equally as many opportunities. If you as a project manager embrace these numerous changes through undertaking learning and development, staying flexible, and incorporating AI into your workflow, you will be prepared to turn these challenges into opportunities for personal and professional growth, and witness successful project outcomes.