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Top Project Management Skills: Building the Future of PM

How Can an Agile Approach Support Change Management Practices?

Organisations are increasingly facing a confluence of challenges - from supply chain disruptions and vaccine mandates to escalating attrition rates and cybersecurity concerns.

Amidst this maelstrom, up-skilling for the future has never been more pressing. For project managers, this era presents an unparalleled opportunity. 

The project management domain is a hive of activity, as organisations strive to meet heightened customer demands, digitise operations, and confront the challenges of the contemporary market. 

The field is rife with projects waiting to be steered to success. As the demand for project managers continues to surge, the key lies in bridging the gap between the skills needed and our ability to deliver. 

Join us as we unravel the top project management skills that will not only navigate today's challenges but also shape the future landscape of project management. The path ahead is promising for project managers who can adeptly rise to the occasion.

A Growing Need For Skilled Project Managers


Back in 2018, PMI foresaw a staggering 33% growth in project-oriented roles between now and 2027, catalysed by the digitisation wave. 

However, this surge in demand is accompanied by a widening gap between the need for skilled resources and their availability. 

Disruptive technologies triggered a paradigm shift, with 50% of executives anticipating the most significant impact to be the upskilling and training of current employees.

The Rising Expectations for Project Managers

The transformative year 2020, marked by the pandemic, heightened the need for empathy, crisis management, and adaptability skills. 

As the "Great Resignation" reshapes the workforce landscape in 2022, a workforce demonstrating empathy, problem-solving prowess, and adaptability is imperative.

In the midst of these shifts, even prior to the pandemic, the landscape of project management was evolving. 

Agile methodologies redefined project delivery, necessitating a recalibration of skills. The quest for success led many, including myself, to delve into enhancing both soft and technical skills, adapting to the demands of this new era.

The future holds promise for project managers, provided we continue to bridge the gap between required skills and our ability to deliver. 

As we navigate the uncharted territories of 2024, let's explore the key project management skills that will not only meet the demands of the present but also lay the foundation for the future of project management.

Navigating the Modern Project Management Landscape


Today's project managers shoulder the dual responsibility of not just getting the job done but also steering towards tangible business outcomes while simultaneously inspiring and motivating their teams.

The evolving landscape of project management demands a nuanced approach to skill development. Instead of drowning in an exhaustive list of 50+ skills, the key lies in establishing a robust foundation of core project management skills and navigating the nuances that differentiate the current era.

For those embarking on a project management career, the foundational pillars of task management, time management, and risk management are paramount. 

Can you proficiently construct a project schedule? Have you crafted a stakeholder management plan? Do you possess the know-how to establish a Project Management Office (PMO)? 

Start here; these fundamentals lay the groundwork for your journey. The following section delves into the crucial skills that warrant prioritisation in the pursuit of becoming a standout project manager in the evolving terrain of project management expectations.

1. Collaborative Leadership: Navigating the Team-Centric Era


In the contemporary professional landscape characterised by team-based models and the burgeoning gig economy, effective project management transcends traditional leadership paradigms. 

The era of collaborative leadership demands a shift from pure authority to a coaching approach, fostering a partnership between leaders and team members.

This collaborative style isn't merely servant leadership; it's a dynamic interaction where project managers delineate the role's impact on organisational or project growth. 

Simultaneously, team members actively contribute to shaping their roles in alignment with their career aspirations. 

While the project management skills of collaborative leadership are cultivable, its success hinges on the concurrent evolution of organisational culture and environment.

2. Human-Centered Design: Shaping Solutions for End-User Impact

In the paradigm shift from a strategy-centric to a customer-focused business model, project managers must adeptly embrace human-centred design principles. 

This skill entails the capacity to craft solutions with a keen focus on end-users, considering social and environmental factors. 

The evolving landscape sees the emergence of thought leadership on applying Design Thinking in project management skills and methodologies surrounding behavioural project management, paving the way for continued development in this crucial area.

3. Data Science & Visualisation: Navigating the Sea of Information


In the era of information overload, project managers must evolve their approach to data. 

The skill set now involves not just accurate performance measurement but also the art and science of presenting data for consumption. 

Project managers need to contemplate the audience. Who will consume the information? Then, extract key insights that drive effective decision-making. 

The mastery of data science and visualisation is paramount, ensuring that data is not just present but strategically supports the decision-making processes at hand.

4. Benefits Realisation: Delivering Tangible Value

Amidst the constant chatter about strategic value and outcomes, a stark reality emerges. According to PMI, only one-third of organisations report high maturity in benefits realisation.

A paradigm shift is imperative, focusing on the actual value delivered to the customer.

The ascendancy of Agile methodologies has added complexity to articulating benefits across a value stream. 

Yet, the project managers of the future must adeptly build this skill set. Without this capability, securing the critical resources needed for timely and quality delivery may become an uphill battle.

5. Persuasive Communication: Mastering the Art of Connection


In the evolving landscape, the demand for robust communication and project management skills has surged. However, the style of communication must undergo a parallel evolution. 

Project managers now face the challenge of not just securing attention but also delivering valuable, personalised messages to diverse audiences.

Adding layers of complexity, effective communication extends across cultures, languages, and channels - both internal and external. 

Project managers must possess the astuteness to gauge the reception of their messages, promptly course-correcting to ensure their communication resonates effectively.

6. Change Management: Navigating Constant Evolution

Project managers are no longer just agents for change but catalysts for swift and perpetual transformations. 

Overcoming resistance - rooted in fear, fatigue, or burnout - is the contemporary challenge. The ability to deliver immediate value amid rapid changes is crucial. 

Strengthening change management and project management skills, coupled with refined storytelling abilities from the previous point on communication, becomes imperative.

7. Innovator Mindset: Adapting to the Tech Deluge


In the era of incessant tech releases, an innovator mindset is indispensable for project managers.

It entails not just learning and keeping pace with technology but also embracing a fail-fast approach. 

Crucially, project managers must adeptly connect and apply diverse project management tools to craft more valuable solutions.

Adept project managers grasp the potential of leveraging low-code solutions and automation technology to enhance efficiencies. 

This not only streamlines their own work but also amplifies efficiency across their teams.

8. Method Mixologist: Mastering Project Management Diversity

In the evolving landscape, project management skills must transcend the confines of singular methodologies. 

It's no longer an Agile vs. Waterfall scenario; instead, it's a nuanced dial of agility. Understanding the organisational culture is paramount.

Project managers must skillfully mix and match methodologies - be it predictive, iterative, hybrid, or the next evolution - to tailor approaches that ensure project success.

9. Synthesis & Critical Thinking Skills: Mastering Information Integration


In a landscape saturated with new technologies and corporate ventures, an insatiable hunger for knowledge is insufficient.

The ability to rapidly assimilate information is imperative. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner emphasises the importance of leaders connecting the dots and making decisions, highlighting the need for synthesis and decisive thinking. 

Building robust critical thinking skills becomes paramount, enabling project managers to question biases and navigate diverse information sources for optimal decision-making.

10. Empathy: Catalyst for Connection

While humour was once whimsically listed as a skill, the enduring importance lies in empathy. 

Beyond enhancing workplace camaraderie, empathy becomes a crucial stress-relief mechanism amid competing demands. 

As our industry evolves, elevating empathy skills is a key project management skill. 

The capacity to perceive others' perspectives, and comprehend their thoughts and emotions, doesn't just amplify project management prowess but enriches our value as compassionate humans.

Elevate Your Project Management Future with MetaPM

As we conclude our exploration of the top project management skills shaping the future, you might be pondering, "What's next?" 

Assess your competencies, gauge their impact on your career trajectory, and craft a personalised development plan.

Embracing the core skills alongside the ten highlighted is key to fortifying your project management foundation.

At MetaPM, we support project managers with industry-leading training to elevate your project management skills and enhance your career development journey. 

For unrivalled education and ongoing support, contact MetaPM today. 

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