Uncertainty and change often uncover important lessons, and the experiences of the pandemic offered innumerable learning opportunities. The project management consultants at PMAlliance work with businesses to help tackle complex and can’t-fail initiatives, and our team saw first-hand the importance of having the right soft skills to navigate difficult situations.
As you look across your project team, consider if you have the right mix of these critical soft skills to help you weather challenging times and maintain strong project performance in the face of adversity.
Confident decision making. You don’t want someone who blindly charges ahead without weighing risk factors and understanding the organization’s capabilities, of course, but it’s critical that team members can make good decisions under pressure and be confident they’re taking the right actions. Look for professionals who are comfortable assessing a situation even when they don’t have all the information that may normally be available. When the environment is undergoing rapid change, you need a team that can move forward despite unfavorable circumstances or lingering uncertainty.
Quick thinking. Just as it’s important to be able to develop a strategy without complete clarity on future forecasts, it’s equally useful for team members to quickly take in and analyze the data that is available to them. The pace of business will only continue to increase and the organizations that thrive will be those that can act while the window of opportunity is still open. Teams should have the confidence and professional maturity to swiftly evaluate a situation and understand its level of urgency. This will enable them to begin charting a course that aligns with the latest data as well as adapt to new information as it comes in.
Innovative. There will always be new challenges and new disruptions. Teams need to find innovative ways to continue moving their projects forward no matter what roadblocks they encounter. Project leaders should also remember that innovation thrives best in a team where everyone participates, so prioritize innovative thinking and a willingness to consider unconventional solutions in every role.
Flexible. Project management requires a great deal of flexibility, and team members who couldn’t adjust to changing conditions and unexpected hiccups had far greater difficulty finding success during the pandemic than those who saw a better strategy and jumped on it. Look for professionals who aren’t easily rattled when things don’t go their way and who can bounce back if a problem forces a shift in direction.
Willing to admit mistakes. What project teams didn’t experience a misstep or two when the pandemic struck? Businesses shut down their onsite operations, employees migrated to remote work arrangements, supply chains faltered and strategic plans were reassessed, and it all happened with very little warning. Project leaders didn’t have much time to quickly pivot their operations and some of the decisions made early in 2020 had to be changed or even abandoned entirely. Organizations that couldn’t own up to those instances where their decision making didn’t work out as planned had a much tougher time returning to a successful path. Encourage project team members to look at past decisions the same way they look at any learning opportunity—take useful lessons from it and move forward with the new-found knowledge.
Data savvy. Successful project management relies heavily on the efficient and effective use of information, and today’s teams have huge volumes of data flowing in from multiple sources. Project professionals need to not only be familiar with the various information streams and formats they’re likely to encounter, they should also have experience vetting data sources and applying analytics and other tools to gather meaningful insights.