Project Managers are facing some serious issues; here’s my take

Project Managers are facing some serious issues; here’s my take

Looking through a few publications and social feeds, I’ve concluded our craft is healthy, but not without issues. So here are some things I’ve noticed or found, with some commentary on what we can do or where I think we’re heading.

Remote work and leadership:

With remote work’s continued success/hatred, project managers still face challenges managing their teams and ensuring effective communication and collaboration¹.

I’m a remote PM and can attest to how these issues play into one another. You can’t collaborate or manage without good communication; you can’t communicate without managing, etc. If you’ve fallen into this trap of trying to do one without the other, I suggest stepping back and focusing on one item at a time.

  • Manage [teams]: figure out how the individual needs are managed, and then bring them together as a team.
  • Communicate: while some prefer video calls, others dislike (even loath) them, try to be sensitive to this. Also, you should never rely solely on email. Follow up with people- communicate with them.
  • Collaboration: this is one of those things that may or may not be needed. I’m technically a program manager, overseeing several projects at any time. Some projects need collaboration to work; some don’t. I’ve been pretty lucky only coming across one person who wasn’t a team player in 20 years in this profession. If your team isn’t working well together, it may be time for a retrospective to see what’s going on.

Remote work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, according to Upwork, 22% of the US workforce is expected to be remote by 2025.

We’ve got issues. We’ll, not necessarily “we,” per sé, but those in our profession of project management.~ME

Soft skills:

“Soft skills” is a term many people throw out there or post on a job posting. They refer to one’s ability to embrace and use communication techniques, leadership principles, and emotional intelligence as a PM. Gone are the days of simply forcing your workforce to do something “’cause you said so.”

Constantly changing digital tools and technology:

My first five years of professional project management were done on paper. Not because I didn’t use computers, but because my mentor didn’t use them (or any digital tools, aka old school). While I have a great appreciation for those who can/do continue with the anti-digital stance, it’s not how it’s done today.

As a seasoned or new PM in the space today, you must understand what, how, and when (99.999% of your day) to use online, mobile, and dedicated digital tools. We track, update, and manage our projects, resources, and stakeholders via messages, emails, and reports. As DPM reminds us, technology continues to evolve rapidly; project managers must stay up-to-date with the latest tools and trends to ensure they use the most effective and efficient project management methods.

Hybrid project management & methodologies:

With the increasing complexity of projects, project managers must adapt to hybrid methodologies that combine traditional and agile approaches to manage their projects better². If not for your current project, you need to look forward and prepare yourself to become comfortable using Waterfall, Agile, Hybrid, [insert the next methodology here], or all of the above.

Talent management:

Project managers need help finding and retaining top talent. Granted, some of the largest employers (in tech) are not helping the situation either. While you may be given eight people to work on a project- if they’re all “A” people but need “A, B, C, and D” people – you may be in trouble. Truth be told, this may be out of your control, that is, ensuring teams have the necessary skills and expertise to complete projects³. This is a conversation that needs to happen early and often with HR. If you think an issue is approaching, raise your hand ASAP.

Other common project management challenges include scope, budget, and risk management. But that’s for a different day.


¹ The 9 Biggest Project Management Trends in 2022 — InLoox

² 5 Emerging Project Management Trends Of 2023

³ 5 Significant Challenges PMs Will Face in the Project Economy Era