Vision to Enhance Leaders’ Skills in South Africa
Project management requires a mixed method management style, with a balance between being democratic and autocratic necessary to keep complex projects running smoothly, within budget and on time, says Klaus Pannenbacker, former president of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and founder of the German Project Management Association, who coined the phrase “demoautocratic” management style.
“This is relevant to all management positions,” says Pannenbacker. “A true manager is somebody who manages according to project management principles.”
Pannenbacker, who started as an electrical engineer, shares a dream with Wessel Pieters, from the Association for Project Management South Africa (APMSA) — to increase project management knowledge and experience and improve attitudes towards project management.
“While IPMA and APMSA offer project management training and certification, we have found a way to test people for attitude and aptitude before training and certifying them. It is no good taking somebody’s money if they do not have the talent to be a good project manager,” says Pannenbacker.
He says project management is a discipline that is continuously evolving and therefore training can easily fail. It is important for a trainer to identify the gaps in project management skills and adjust the training to fill these gaps.
This has to be done diplomatically as, typically, a project management learner is an older person, normally between 35 and 55, who can feel offended if you show them gaps in their skills and knowledge.
In SA, on average, project managers are older than 45.
Pannenbacker says becoming a project manager is not just about gaining education but also involves training, during which a person with the correct education is taught how to do things practically.
“Coaching is an important aspect as the coach will take the educated and trained person and point them in the right direction until they have enough experience to run complicated projects successfully.”
Pieters says the vision for IPMA and APMSA is to move more into consulting and coaching than just training.
He says there is much more awareness about project management in the field and the demand is growing. There are about 200,000 IPMA certified members globally.
There are four levels of certification and certified members are equipped to run any project. Being certified will assist a project manager with career planning and certification will make the project manager an attractive prospect for any employer.
“The complication about project management is that there is little routine in the life of a project manager. Each and every project entails different resources, environment, size, levels of complexity and culture.
In fact, each project is unique and operates in a different environment. Therefore, it is a challenge for managers to standardise the level of project management globally.
“The ultimate is for project management to be built into the strategy of a company. Projects fill the entire world. Even at school level pupils should be taught to manage school work as projects,” says Pannenbacker.
He says that humans intuitively know how to manage projects, yet globally companies invest heavily in project management training. These skills should be developed at school level.
Pieters concurs, saying it is a great way to remain motivated: “When you know there is an end to the specific project it is easier to find the self-discipline to push through. When things become routine it is easier to become bored and demotivated.”
Pieters goes as far as saying it is the project management skill that differentiates rich from poor countries.
“If we look at Africa, there is a lot of mineral and human resources and good economic activity, but it is project management skill that is lacking. The ability to create wealth lies in project management .”
Pieters explains that the responsibility of the project manager is to set the order of the project and take authority.
“The more educated and experienced the project manager, the easier it will be to take control, but that ability to balance being democratic, sourcing and accepting input from team members and making an autocratic call when the project depends on strong and decisive leadership remains an art form that only the well trained, experienced and mature project leader or manager can develop.
“That is the level we are striving towards through our vision of enhancing project management skills in SA.”
Author: Alf James
Source: BD Live
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