As the project management landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to evolve, a compelling study by the Project Management Institute (PMI) sheds light on the transformative impact of power skills on project success.
Power skills, also known as interpersonal or soft skills, encompass essential attributes such as communication, problem-solving, and collaborative leadership. These skills are proving to be indispensable for project professionals, enabling them to navigate complex challenges and lead teams towards achieving project goals.
PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® 2023 report delves into the intricate relationship between power skills and project success. Drawing insights from nearly 3,500 project professionals worldwide, including a significant representation from the MENA region, the report unveils a clear correlation between prioritizing power skills and achieving superior project outcomes.
Organizations that place a high value on power skills exhibit remarkable advantages in areas such as benefits realization management (BRM) maturity, organizational agility, and project management maturity.
Conversely, organizations that fail to recognize the importance of power skills face a heightened risk of projects that fall short of business objectives, experience scope creep, and incur substantial financial losses in the event of project failure.
The MENA region, with its unique blend of cultural nuances and business environments, presents distinct trends in the prioritization of power skills. Problem-solving emerges as the most critical power skill in the region, garnering a remarkable score of 78. Communication, strategic thinking, and collaborative leadership follow closely behind, underscoring the holistic nature of power skills required for project success in MENA.
Despite the evident benefits of power skills, the report uncovers a significant gap in the allocation of resources for professional development. Organizations dedicate a mere 25% of their training and development budgets to power skills compared to over 51% allocated to technical skills. This misalignment highlights the untapped potential for growth and success that organizations can unlock by investing in power skills development.
While the advantages of power skills are undeniable, certain barriers, such as cost and perceived lack of value, persist. Talent decision-makers in the MENA region report a perceived lack of value in power skills development at 35%. Organizations that consistently reinforce the importance of power skills through frequent touchpoints with employees are more likely to reap the benefits of power skills training and development.
The report also highlights an underutilized opportunity to assess power skills within teams. While individual assessments are more prevalent, connecting team performance to power skills through team-based assessments could yield increased organizational efficiency.
Insights from project managers in the region emphasize the need for comprehensive assessments that delve into the effectiveness of communication, negotiation styles, and critical persuasion skills.
“We do have an annual assessment review for all employees. We assess communication and the ability to communicate. But I do not know if we did enough assessment of how effective the communication was, the style of communication, or how successful they were in critical negotiations and persuading others. Maybe we can enhance these assessments to include a lot of the power skills,” said Mohammed Al Sadiq, Project Manager at Saudi Aramco.
The report concludes with a resounding call for organizations in the MENA region to prioritize power skills. By recognizing the connection between project success and power skills, fostering a culture that embodies these skills, and integrating them into recruitment and performance processes, organizations can redefine success for both themselves and the project professionals who drive their endeavours.