The Skills Project Managers Will Need in 2025
Lately, it feels like things have been advancing so rapidly that it’s possible some new-fangled technology could disrupt our line of work before you finish this article.
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Over the last decade, technology has been advancing so rapidly that many of us are breathlessly trying to keep pace so we don’t get left behind.
To stay competitive in our careers, we must not only do our jobs well today, but be prepared for how we’ll be doing our jobs well in two, five, ten years from now.
So what skills and experience will be most important in the next two, five, 10 years? Based on industry trends and where technology is headed, here’s my guess for what PM skills employers will want to see in 2025.
Most people can pass a certification exam or learn a new software application. But not everyone has the panache to lead a team through a tough project, build relationships with stakeholders, or keep a remote team engaged.
Call them soft skills, emotional intelligence, or just good ol’ people skills—employers are going to seek out this attribute more and more.
In her recent article about 2018 predictions, PM expert Elizabeth Harrin wrote, “It’s possibly a bold prediction, but I think [project management] certification will come to be less important over time, as employers place more emphasis on being able to build relationships at work, deal with conflict, manage a virtual team and deliver on strategy to achieve tangible benefits for the business.”
Harrin probably isn’t that far off, considering the results of several studies that have found a project manager’s emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) does indeed have an impact on the success or failure of a project.
For example, a 2017 study of 107 Pakistani construction companies found that emotional intelligence did play a role in project success:
“The results showed that the emotional intelligence measures of self-awareness and relationship management, are highly significantly correlated with project success (0.192<γ<0.244); in other words, project managers who possess self-awareness (emotional intelligence dimension) are also excellent at relationship management (emotional intelligence dimension); as a result, they build an effective team based on teamwork, collaboration, inspirational leadership, and leading from the front. This ultimately transcends into contributing dividends to project success.”
So, the data backs it up: emotional intelligence is a key component of successful projects. How do you learn to lead and work with it? Here are some resources to get you started:
Because of technological advances (IoT), shifts in society (remote working), and the many unknowns of the future (AI), project managers need to be open to new ideas, flexible to pivot with changing times, and ready to adapt to change.
But, that’s nothing new, right? Project managers have always been masters of adaptation. When things shift, the project manager is almost always the first to respond. They’re ready to adjust plans and expectations and are constantly watching for pitfalls and risks on the horizon.
So, you already have an advantage over other knowledge workers. The key is to continue to use those adaptation skills to seek out new learning opportunities, whether that’s through an online course, reading a book, or volunteering for a new project at work, as well as being aware of changes on the horizon.
Wondering how you can prepare for an uncertain future? Check out these resources:
Working with and Managing Remote Teams
Working remotely and with dispersed, international teams is on the rise, and employers will be looking for project managers who have experience successfully working from home, as well as managing a remote team.
If you’ve worked remotely, you know there’s a learning curve. When I first moved to Seattle, I continued to work remotely for my company back in Minneapolis. I’m not going to lie…it was tough at first. All of the camaraderie, structure, and happy hours I had enjoyed were suddenly a thing of the past. I had to hone my time management skills, learn how to communicate with my teams without the benefit of watercooler conversations, and figure out how to “leave” work at the end of the day.
Hiring managers at remote companies are looking for candidates who can communicate verbally and in writing, have an independent streak, and have a track record of successfully managing their own projects, according to the remote working blog Remote.co.
If you’re not working remotely now (but want to in the future), you can still work on building that skillset. Look for opportunities to work with offsite teams, raise your hand to initiate and lead your own projects, and brush up on those writing skills.
Here are some great articles about working remotely as a project manager:
Data Science Expertise
The Internet of Things, automation, and artificial intelligence were the buzzwords of 2017 (and most likely 2018, 2019, 2020…). These advances are going to shake up every industry in some way. Project management is definitely getting a pass on this one.
PM expert and LiquidPlanner writer Tim Clark offers a nice summary of the Internet of Things: “IoT connects anything with an on/off switch to the internet or to each other. Examples of IoT in action includes security systems, thermostats, electronic appliances, household lights, alarm clocks and more.”
For project managers, this means that your programs, systems, etc. etc. are going to start talking to you. They’ll help you identify risks, detect problems, and unload the administrative tasks through automation.
As these programs get up and running, there will be an increased need for project managers with big data expertise. Here are some articles to get you started:
What project manager skills do you think employers will be looking for in 2020? Let us know in the comments.