Exploring the behavioural competencies of the future project manager : perspectives from a South African project management organisation
Project management is as much art as it is science. Competence of project managers is receiving increasing interest as more organisations accept that project performance has an impact on organisational performance. Scholars and practitioners of project management tend to agree that while the technical aspects of project management are important, it is the behavioural competencies, or soft skills, of project managers that are required for success ? now and in the future. This study set out to explore the expected evolution of the behavioural skills and competencies of the project manager over the next decade. Secondary objectives of the study were to establish if perceptions differ amongst the respective demographic groups, the importance of leadership skills and how identified future behavioural competencies are addressed in current job profiles for project managers. The research study began in the literature where projects and project management was introduced followed by an exploration of some of the trends and perceptions expected to impact on project management in the future. Projects of the future will be strongly influenced by technology with complexity and uncertainty as common themes. Leadership and flexibility will be key for project managers to survive in such a dynamic, hyper–connected environment. A thorough literature study was conducted into the behavioural competencies of project managers especially with respect to the most widely used project management bodies of knowledge. The concept of competency was defined and a number of models of competency were presented. Soft skills relating to project managers were discussed including emotional intelligence which has received much attention recently. A comparison was made of the behavioural competencies of project managers as addressed in the IPMA International Competence Baseline 3.0, the APM Body of Knowledge and the PMI Body of knowledge. Concluding the literature study, the fifteen behavioural competencies from the IPMA International Competence Baseline were discussed drawing on insight from the literature. An empirical study was completed with the aid of a new questionnaire designed using the behavioural competencies contained in the IPMA International Competence Baseline 3.0 as constructs. The questionnaire survey explored the perceptions of members in a South African project management organisation regarding the evolution of the importance given to the identified behavioural competencies. Analysis of the responses showed the questionnaire to be reliable and valid. Respondents indicated that they expect the following project manager behavioural constructs to grow in importance in the future: Efficiency, Leadership, Creativity, Openness and Engagement and Motivation. Respondents expect the following behavioural constructs to be less important in the future: Ethics, Values Appreciation, Reliability, Conflict and Crisis and Self–control. Structured interviews conducted to validate the survey results highlighted only that Leadership is an area that is expected to take on more importance for project managers in future. The interviews produced similar expectations to the literature regarding the future challenges for project management regarding complexity, uncertainty and the rate of change. A review of Project Manager job profiles yielded that generally behavioural competencies for project managers are not comprehensively addressed with more attention required and to utilise research as a basis. Proficiency requirements and assessment of proficiencies remains a major challenge that must be addressed by organisations in future. Conclusions regarding the findings of the research study were presented and recommendations for organisations and interested parties given. The research study was evaluated opposite the primary and secondary objectives with the conclusion that both were achieved. Finally, recommendations for further research into the behavioural competencies and related topics were proposed.
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