It’s tough to summarize exactly what project managers do. It’s a role that requires one to be a jack of all trades – project managers liaise will all kinds of people: developers, consultants, stakeholders, construction managers, marketers… you get the idea.
In order to stay on budget and on schedule, while meeting (or exceeding) quality standards, project managers need to know enough about everyone’s role to be dangerous.
In addition to being quick learners and jacks-of-all-trades, project managers need to also be strong leaders, diplomatic counsel, cheerleaders, chaos tamers, negotiators, and then some.
Why are project managers and project management skills in demand?
With such a demanding set of qualities and skills to strive towards, it’s no surprise that there is a great shortage of project managers. Eighty-three percent of organizations report that they can’t find qualified project managers to fill open positions. That number is only set to grow – Nearly 22 million new project management positions will have been created between 2017 and 2027, with the industry forecasted to grow by 33 percent.
No skill shortage is desirable, but a lack of qualified project managers in your organization spells disaster. More specifically, it means missed deadlines, reduced productivity, lost business, and internal conflict.
According to the Project Management Institute’s 2016 Pulse of the Profession report, $122 million of every $1 billion invested in projects is wasted due to poor execution.
If your organization is need of project managers, you have two options: train existing employees for the skills you need or hire certified project managers. In this article, I will cover how to do both.
Before diving in, it’s important to know what skills and traits good project managers have. Knowing this will help you select existing employees to invest training resources in and give you a better understanding when looking at resumes from potential candidates.
What are project management skills?
Thrive where objectives and desired outcomes are clear and reasonable.
Holds oneself accountable and takes full ownership throughout the entire process.
Project managers are often looked up to for solutions and guidance. As a result, they need to be able to command attention and be well respected.
Can clearly articulate project goals and parameters. Is able to communicate with a wide variety of people, and tailor their approach so they are understood.
Projects are always time bound. Project managers need to be able to create accurate schedules and timelines, and deliver on those promises.
Unmanaged, projects can have runaway costs and unjustifiable expenses. Project managers need to be able to deliver projects at optimum levels of cost efficiency.
Project managers need to bring structure into disparate teams working to achieve the same goal. The best way to do this is by leading by example, and using their own habits and behavior as a template.
Managers need to be able to build genuine relationships and encourage close collaboration. Collaboration makes it easier to get everyone on the same page, detect issues sooner, and resolve conflicts more easily
Healthy doses of energy and motivation are needed to keep project managers going amid disappointments and challenges
How to hire a project manager
A great manager will be able to work on any type of project you hand her or him. However, project managers, like the rest of us, have interests and preferences.
Hiring someone who is skilled and interested in the project at hand will yield better results as they will be even more motivated.
With a specific job description, you are more likely to get applications from passionate candidates.
Lookout for telltale signs
Project management requires someone who is supremely organized. This means you should look out for candidates who:
- Bring copies of their resume to the interview
- Submits applications on time with all the documents
- Sends a thank you email promptly
Project managers need to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people. You can gauge this during the hiring process by bringing in different interviewers or conducting a panel style interview.
Ask questions that illuminate their soft skills
Questions that start with “Describe a time when you…” are great ways to determine if someone has the necessary soft skills to lead projects.
Here are some questions you may find useful in the hiring process.
Tap into internal talent
If hiring someone isn’t possible, consider tapping into internal talent.
Start by offering accessible, engaging training to your employees. Online course providers are a relatively low-cost way of doing this.
GoSkills has a Project Management basics course with lessons that are only 5-7 minutes long. This means employees can fit spurts of training into their day-to-day and don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts.
HR can track progress and test courses using the GoSkills LMS, and single out promising employees for an advanced course, such as the PMP certification training.
Managers should give their employees small-stakes projects so they can put what they’ve learnt into practice. This experience can help them acquire the hours they need to earn a CAPM or PMP certification.
Project Management is never just about one person. Developing these skills across your teams will result in efficiently executed projects, better bottom lines, and saved time.
You may not be able to control the skills people come in with, but you sure can control the skills they learn once they’re on your team.