Productivity

Got Work? Acquire Project Management Skills ALL Employers Crave.

 

Do you have the skills and certifications employers are looking for?
According to PMI, by 2027, companies around the world will need nearly 88 million professionals working in project management-related roles. Sounds great, right? 
Well, not so fast. 
Unfortunately, many project managers won’t make the cut. Before you start popping champagne bottles and dancing in the street, make sure you’re properly positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.
This Fast Company article states –  
“[The common] advice [to develop technical skills] still reflects a “ladder-climbing” mind-set in a world that’s looking a lot more like a lattice.
That isn’t exactly wrong. Some skill sets really are in higher demand than others, so it makes sense to counsel undergrads and entry-level workers to brush up in certain subject areas in order to gain an edge. But this kind of advice still reflects a “ladder-climbing” mind-set in a world that’s looking a lot more like a lattice, where talent–and people’s entire careers–are much more fluid.”
On the other hand, a recent LinkedIn article suggests hard skills such as cloud computing, statistical analysis, and data mining are more in-demand by companies than soft skills such as time management, leadership, and communication. This is evidenced by the fact, the hard skills vastly outnumber the soft ones. 
It’s hard to know where to focus your attention. At least one thing is clear though.
No matter if you’re a technical or non-technical manager, you MUST prove you can get results through others. 
If you want to benefit from the increase in project management-related roles, you have to strategically position yourself. Here’s what you need to do.

Embrace Change

Change is a gift. As I stated in a previous article titled, “How to Make Project Management Your Company’s Secret Weapon” –
“It’s the bane of entrenched incumbents and the savior of emerging competitors.”
Don’t just anticipate change or even accept it. You have to embrace it. 
While others are running for the hills trying to avoid it, you should be throwing your arms around it like a long-lost love you’ve been patiently waiting for. This is how you make the change in trends your friends.
In the project management world, we’re seeing major changes happening in areas such as automation, machine learning, and agile methodologies. Hopefully, you’re proactively embracing these rapidly encroaching trends.

Think Entrepreneurially

Picture this…you’re at the end of your rope dangling from the side of a towering inferno. Your heart is feverishly pounding. 
All you see are plumes of smoke billowing around you. Seconds turn into minutes; imminent death looms.
Pretty dramatic, huh? 
If you’re simply managing projects to expectations and not offering value that differentiates you from younger, hungrier professionals or scalable technology, your project management career will be holding on for dear life while the flames of unemployment engulf it.
Jay Martin summed it up this way –
“And even if you have a W-2 job, you really work for yourself. I like to quote the great Bob Maher, CMF from 2001 "The contract between employer and employee has been over for more than 15 years, but it's just now that employees are figuring that out."
Yes, the flames are insatiable in their desire to separate the good from the great while eliminating nice-to-haves and streamlining the remaining must-haves. All that will remain are those who create the most long-term value. 
So, how can you stave off the flames?
STOP managing projects and START owning them. This will require you to transition to an entrepreneurial, ownership mindset. 
Look at yourself as a Project CEO rather than an employee-for-hire. (You can read the lite version of this concept here or a more in-depth version here.)
With this in mind, you should systematically shift to being an entrepreneurial-minded Project CEO who exhibits an optimal combination of Consultant, Project Manager, and Business Developer skills. Once this has been accomplished, you can strategically position yourself to advance.
Adopt this mindset BEFORE the flames turn your six-figure career into a smoldering pile of ashes.

Inspire Greatness

Earlier, I mentioned your value as a manager, rather than as a technician, is tied to your ability to get results through others. There will always be a place in this world for leaders who can inspire greatness in doers.
Although many managers are capable of leading (at some level), only a fraction of them truly aspires to lead. Consequently, they face being squeezed out of their jobs over time by ambitious subordinates from below and cost-cutting executives from above. 

Here's a personal story...

When I was growing up, my dad was a great inspiration to me. For much of my youth, he was in management at one of the largest baking plants in the region. 
I can remember one time; he had to get up in the middle of the night and go to the plant to resolve an urgent issue. For some peculiar reason, the bread dough wasn’t rising like it should. 
His men had tried everything they could think of, but the bread still wasn’t rising. To make matters worse, the line had been shut down for over an hour while they tried to fix it. The clock mercilessly kept ticking while production losses mounted. 
No doubt about it, this was a challenging situation. 
Luckily, my dad was formally trained in practical and scientific aspects of baking. When he arrived at the plant, he quickly assessed the situation. Common sense told him to resolve the problem immediately, but he didn’t. 
Instead, he gathered his men on the shop floor and asked them to walk him through what they did step-by-step. When they missed a step, he asked them to look it up in the production manual and read it out loud. 
It wasn’t long before they realized the error of their ways. They forgot to include the right amount of baking soda! 
With this revelation, they quickly fixed the problem and got the production line running again. Presto…problem solved.
This begs the question, “Why would he waste time driving to the shop and going through this exercise if he had a good idea what was wrong all along?”
First of all, he may have had a good idea what was wrong, but he wasn’t 100% certain. Second, he wanted to teach them a lesson, so they’d be able to solve future problems on their own. 
In the end, he did more than just help his men figure out why the bread wasn’t rising. He encouraged them to follow the production manual, so they wouldn't overlook the obvious again. 
The beauty of this approach is he empowered them to solve their own problem rather than make them dependent on him to solve it for them. As a result, he could rest assured knowing he wouldn’t be fielding any more late night calls about the dough not rising. 
* * * *
Start doing these three things today:
1) Invest in yourself
You are responsible for you. NOT your employer. NOT the government. NOT your graduate school professor, etc. They can help foster growth, but it's up to you to seize the reins of your career.
If you hold this truth to be self-evident then education should be a lifelong journey rather than a means to an end. Treat yourself like the asset you are.
2) Find a mentor
The worst career decision you can ever make is to not seek guidance from those who’ve mastered the craft before you. It’s like trying to reinvent the wheel when a full-blown wheel factory is right around the corner.
Stop going it alone or adhering to the “blind following the blind” metaphor. Follow a proven leader.
3) Get certified
Love them or hate them, certifications are an absolute necessity. You can try to fight it, but you won’t win. 
If you take your career seriously, you’ll plot a plan to acquire the most in-demand certifications. Popular project management certifications include the PMP, CAPM, CSM, and PMI-ACP. 
Bottom line…get certified.
Final Thoughts
What got you where you are today won’t necessarily keep you there. Resting on your laurels will only invite younger, more ambitious go-getters to outmaneuver you.
It doesn’t matter whether you manage government or corporate projects, you should be actively looking for ways to create a sustainable, competitive advantage. One of the best ways to do this is to think and act like an owner rather than someone who simply manages projects.
Master the aforementioned project management skills while proactively obtaining in-demand certifications. This way, you'll make the cut!
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