Every business is focused on producing projects. Taking it from concept to execution is a difficult but rewarding career path. The question we should ask is what kind of skills do businesses need and look for when considering someone to manage their projects.
What is project management?
Before we can go into the specifics of what businesses want, we should consider a raw definition of what the job entails.
Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project.”
Given the variety of businesses, we can’t have a strict outline of what each project means. But we can give a general outline of projects as having a goal and deadline, within a strict budget. Being able to manage these dimensions is beneficial to any business. Some businesses want specific skills from their project managers, gleaned from wider experience as well as project management training.
What skills employers want
There are a number of very specific aspects employers want. Employers are very keen on project managers having a keen understanding of technical aspects to the business. Specifically, Project Manager AU suggests that skills include scheduling, resource allocation and understanding risk management. Delving into the risk assessment and understanding possible negative responses to projects is essential. This helps inform the business if they’re making the right choice in this particular direction.
Leadership is also in demand. Employers want to see someone who can handle being in charge of a diverse group of people. Leadership isn’t merely barking orders, but also taking responsibility and being able to understand the strengths and limitations of the group.
Businesses also recognise the importance of communication. They want managers who not only can comprehensively convey an idea themselves, but be able to listen and communicate others’ ideas too. This is also essential for leadership, showing precisely how this fits into a pattern of a well-rounded individual.
Moira Alexander, writing in CIO, points out employers want those who can be a rock amidst changing seas:
“Anyone who has ever managed a project knows there are always issues that cause stress, ambiguity and conflict. Employers want project managers they can rely on who can easily adapt to change, and are unflappable during uncertainty and crisis. These traits are particularly valuable at times when there is a need to keep others calm because most people will struggle when uncertainty or crisis strikes.”
In summary: businesses want a strong, capable and adaptable leader, who has the wider interests and concerns of the business at heart. They must be able to withstand the blows of change and adjust where necessary, but not too easily. These are skills we should all want, anyway, but it is more essential for those taking the lead in major business projects.