13 Feb 2020

3 Skills Needed in the Era of Digital Disruption

Artificial intelligence, Soft skills, Technology
3 Skills Needed in the Era of Digital Disruption

Technology, digital disruption and artificial intelligence are often posed as an existential crisis for project management professionals. The truth is – it’s the opportunity you have been waiting for to focus on the soft skills that spell success in this new future.

According to Gartner – by 2030, 80% of what we commonly think of today as the work of project management will be eliminated - as artificial intelligence (AI) takes on traditional PM functions such as data collection, tracking and reporting. We are now well within the age of digital disruption – and the project manager is not immune. So how do project management professionals adapt to this altering future?
The good news is that the biggest technological impact will occur around repetitive or manual tasks such as data collection and management, risk management, budgeting, and scheduling – the “technical skills”. Where it’s likely to take longer to impact is on the softer, more human skills such as the ability to communicate, influence, and lead. Powering up in these kinds of skills, and leveraging the extra productivity that comes from automating those laborious technical skills, puts you in poll position to benefit hugely from this ongoing digital disruption wave.
The common reasons projects fail is a lack of executive support and emotional maturity, poor user involvement, no optimisation and not enough skilled staff. What people respond to best are the behavioural skills. Successful project managers know that when projects start to go off the rails it's the ability to communicate, influence and lead that makes the difference.



Emotional intelligence is the key to improving and cultivating behavioural skills. It requires self-awareness and the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, as well as handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. The more you exercise your emotional intelligence “muscle” the better you will be able to develop crucial soft skills such as these:

Communication: good communicators are aware of the type of language, both verbal and non-verbal they use as a project manager - and that of their stakeholders. By observing the communication patterns and learning styles of their stakeholders – good communicators will adjust their own language patterns, cues and teaching styles to better match the preferences of their audience.
Leadership: By checking your own ego and modelling “servant leadership” - where you actively submit to the greater goal of the project and put it front and centre – you have a better chance of setting a positive tone and behavioural guide for the team.
A project manager who pays attention to what motivates their team, how best to utilise their strengths and weaknesses and the rewards they most value is more likely to out-do expectations. In a competitive talent market, keeping people satisfied and motivated is key to retaining them – not only so projects can be completed uninterrupted but because we all want to work in supportive, positive environments.
Technology is changing the way we all work and consequently what kind of projects we do, how and how we manage and motivate our stakeholders. What hasn’t changed – is that it’s the soft skills that will most help in getting the job done successfully and positively. Take the opportunity that new technology provides to minimise the time you need to spend doing the “technical skill” stuff. Use that extra time to work on evolving and refining your behavioural skills. We all have them – but like any muscle - we have to work on them to get the most out of them. Not only will this set you up as a project management leader in the new digital age – but we think it will make for a much more pleasant day at work.




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ProNEXUS has access to the largest pool of independently vetted candidates for project-based roles in Australia, with the ability to assess and develop project management capability in line with your objectives. More than ever, high-calibre project management talent is required to help navigate change, deliver innovation and continue to realise strategic initiatives. With the landscape of projects being delivered globally constantly evolving, the key challenge in an increasingly competitive labour market is how to source quality project-focused talent that can deliver instant impact. We bring together over half a century of recruitment, talent management and organisational development experience across Europe and APAC, more than five decades of education and thought leadership in project management.