You’ve been asked to make a significant change within your business, and the change has to be implemented by a specific date. This change requires working with colleagues across the business, communicating what that change is and why we need to make it. You need to coordinate everyone around a common goal, identify risk and issues and to plan and re-plan as necessary.
Sounds a bit like a project, and you are in fact using key project management skills to bring this together – leadership, communication, team management, organisation, scheduling - however you aren’t in a project management role.
In the 21st century workplace our roles have evolved. The requirements of what we do and how we do it have changed. This could be in response to the changing economic landscape, a need for a more rounded skillset, or quite simply are employers becoming savvier in what they are looking for in an employee in order to ride the tide of a turbulent period in business?
As individuals we are less constrained by rigid hierarchies in the workplace, we have more accountability and responsibility. Although our job title may not include the term ‘project manager’, a vast majority of us are now managing projects in one way or another. Skills like organising, planning, decision-making, budgeting and negotiating are very often expected of us. Many roles also include working in cross-discipline project teams, where the responsibilities, in the past reserved for project managers, are now down to us. In short, I believe that to a greater or lesser extent, we are all project managers.
Research with employers by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), has shown that employers are acknowledging the importance of project management within the workplace, and not just as a specific role, but as one of the key skills they are looking for in employees (21st Century Leaders. Building employability through higher education. February 2018).
However, as managing projects becomes a common practice in the workplace, and employers expect those in non-traditional project management roles to be able to undertake the responsibility, are we in fact setting them up to fail? Without the skills in place to handle multiple projects across different teams, meetings get cancelled, deadlines are pushed and stress levels rise. Does it then become inevitable that projects will fail to deliver the benefits promised?
Statistics show us that even those within traditional project management roles struggle to deliver all projects to completion, with over 50% of project managers stating that they do not consistently achieve stated project deliverables (Source: KPMG).
Training has a huge impact on project results. Organisations with project management training constantly deliver better results with fewer resources, compared to organisations without project management training (Source: The PwC Project Management Global Survey, Third Edition). Businesses need to take this into account. Yes, we should applaud those organisations who support a well-rounded workforce, who acknowledge that project management is no longer the domain of an elite few, and actively encourage their employees to manage projects. But, with this comes responsibility, investing in your workforce to successfully deliver projects will ultimately help your business to grow and succeed.
As individuals, being able to use project management skills enables us to develop skills and gain experience that can prepare us to take on managerial roles in the future. Having influence or control in decision-making, budgeting and organising activities provides us with an opportunity to identify our own strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, we can pursue personal development strategies. We also become able to seek out opportunities we already know we have an aptitude for.
Most of us have at some point in our careers managed a project. By taking our cue from professional project managers and honing our skills with the right training, we can deliver a successful project. One that will ultimately benefit our personal achievements and the businesses success.