3 Important Skills for Project Managers

You know that PMI has a framework for project management skills, documented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). But there are other skills that can complement that and accelerate your career:

  1. business process improvement
  2. managing to strategy
  3. organizational change management

One or all of these can set you apart from other project managers without these skills—and make you more successful in more advanced roles in your organization. Here’s what you need to know to determine if any would be of use to you—and how to get the knowledge you need.

Business Process Improvement
Why You Need It: More significant projects change a business process or work procedure in some way. In the future, this will be even more true as businesses move to improve productivity through new automation methods such as robotic process automation and artificial intelligence.

With a deeper understanding of how process analysts complete the work, you will be better able to understand the resources needed, the business benefits, interdependencies and stakeholder needs related to your project.

How to Get the Skills: In general, you want to see what specific skills fit in the organization in which you work:

  • Determine if your company already uses one of the well-known process management methodologies such as Six Sigma, lean or other. These require the current state of the business process to be documented, then analyzed to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • If your company does have a standard methodology, then it may provide free internal training that you can complete.
  • Consider getting certified in a well-known methodology. This can be transferable to other organizations.
  • Learn to read and interpret business workflow diagrams. Process improvement projects require the heavy use of these documents in planning, requirements and design. As the project manager, you will want to make sure that you know enough to make sure that the work is being completed properly—and that risks and interdependencies with other processes have been identified.

Managing to Business Strategy
Why You Need It: Projects you manage are (or should be!) business strategy executed. This gives you the ability to see the “big picture” more easily. You can use this ability over time to build the knowledge and expertise to move into more strategic roles, in program management or departmental management.

How to Get the Skills: Depending on the organization you work in, the best way to do this might be one or more of several options:

  • You can immediately begin focusing on strategy by looking at project charters, which should have some strategy-based background (but there is much more to it).
  • See my article on how to use product, program or road map information to bolster your knowledge here.
  • Look for lunch-and-learns connected with organizational strategy or related to organizational changes connected with strategic changes.
  • See if free online internal training on corporate strategy is available (even better if it specifically for project managers).
  • Read articles about the competitive landscape of the marketplace for your industry. There should be industry magazines available online with the information you need to see what current strategy issues are and marketplace trends.
  • Complete training on technology or general business strategy from trusted sources. The basics are not difficult and can quickly be applied in your understanding of your specific corporate strategy.

Organizational Change Management
Why You Need It: This is that area of projects that includes getting people ready for a change (typically significant or disruptive) in how they work now to how they will work in the future state. For example, the change could be that roles are changing to complete work in a different way. It involves special communication, training, incentives, participation and more. The bigger the projects you want to manage, the more organizational change management becomes a necessary skill in your bag of tricks.

How to Get the Skills: There are many books on this subject, but look for those that are less detailed because you do not want to get lost in detail when you simply want to be able to work more effectively with those groups whose role it is to manage the organizational change.

  • Get a quick start by checking out articles on ProjectManagement.com. For example, check out the article series on organizational change starting here (search for organizational change so you don’t get results for project change management).
  • At this writing, I am starting a series of blog posts here on organizational change management using robotic process automation projects as examples.

 

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Project Management Planning Session!

Renaissance Executive Forums Indiana, Project Management Forum, is hosting a strategy meeting on the trials and tribulations of project management in Michiana organizations.

Do you have project completion challenges?

Do you need leadership training for your project engineers and supporting organizations?

If you answer yes to either of these questions, you should join us at our 08/24/17 Project Management Forum Quarterly Meeting.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

8:00 AM Casual Breakfast / Networking
8:15 AM Welcome/Introductions
8:30 AM EC – Conflict Resolution
9:30 AM PM Forum Structure, what do we want?
11:00 AM Round Table Discussions – Bring a Topic you would like feedback on

PMC, LLC Formed!

About Us
I help professionals improve their leadership skills.
PMCLLC
I connect leaders who want to learn about project management problems and solutions.
We are in the process of starting a project management forum to share challenges and solutions to Project Management in manufacturing, construction, and IT solutions.
Do you have major Projects that are critical to your success over the next year or two?
Are some of these Projects over budget or late on delivery?
Could your key staff benefit from learning how other companies complete Projects?
How We Got Started
As a project management professional, I am prepared to help your organization implement project management principals, tools, and techniques. Also, to be a successful project manager, you must possess strong leadership skills. I can assist with that transition.
In addition, as part my leadership skills experience, I am affiliated with Renaissance Exectuve Forums Indiana, leading a Project Management Fourm. We are an organization whose focus is the “Top Executive”. Our programs are designed to help Chief Executives get from where they are now to where they want to be, both personally and professionally.
We are a membership organization who, through our local Business Partners, invite qualified top executives to participate in our process. Our members are business owners just like you, who desire to grow their businesses
Our Ideal Customer

My ideal customer is an ogranization that realizes that they perform projects on a daily basis. In order to be successful, they need to be able to complete these projects in an efficient manner, on time and within budget. I can help improve your project processes.

Leading vs. Managing, or Both?

There are leaders, and there are managers. They are two very different positions. While some people can do both at once, it is an important distinction that should be examined and understood by anyone in a leadership position.

Managers are responsible for the work getting done, while leaders are responsible for forging ahead and showing people how to get the work done. There is a need for both roles, but there can be tension and stress when managers and leaders do not agree—and employees often respond differently to different styles of management or leadership.

Managing Styles
When it comes to management, there are a variety of styles that can be found in the office. There is the manager who likes to run around and put out fires, a direct contrast to the manager who sits back and expects the team to take care of everything. Then there are managers who live to work and expect everyone else to do the same.

Trying to catalog different management styles is almost an impossible task, but there are some important distinctions to understand. Is trust given by the manager to the people on the team, or does the manager watch everything (or try to watch everything)? Is the manager knowledgeable about what is going on in the team or teams, or do they have a hands-off approach? Management style is more than just personality—it is the relationships that exist between the manager and the team members.

Leadership Styles
If management is a matter of using your relationships with the team to get the work done, then leadership is about using your relationship with the team to help them move to new areas. Those areas might be new skill sets or finishing a project of a type that has never been done. The style of leadership can also be as varied as management styles.

The important characteristic of all leaders though is that they understand how to communicate well and motivate people. Without these skills, a leader will only go as far as they can go alone. Whether your style is brash, diplomatic or stream of consciousness, without a team behind you, you will not be leading for long.

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Why Project Management?

  1. Become a more valuable contributor to your organization
  2. Develop accurate schedules, track resources, anticipate risks, deliver projects on time and on budget.
  3. Manage teams across organizational and global boundaries.
  4. Determine correct number and types of resources required for successful project execution.
  5. Develop Team-Building skills.
  6. Develop project success criteria.
  7. Improve stakeholder communications.
  8. Communicate more effectively with team members.