PMI is Waking Up to the Importance of Soft Skills

I spent some time exploring the new Career Framework Initiative from PMI.  The framework is intended to provide project managers, program managers, and portfolio managers with a career path or progression from one job to another.  This is likely most helpful to project managers who are wondering where their careers may go. 

I was interested to see how the PMI framework laid out so I went through the website in detail to learn all that I could.  The simple career path looks like this:

  1. Project Manager Level I
  2. Project Manager Level II
  3. Project Manager Level III
  4. Program Manager
  5. Portfolio Manager

Here is a summary chart of the entire framework, showing the experience levels, education levels, qualifications and competencies by each rung on the ladder.  Download pmis_pm_career_framework.pdf

I was delighted to see that the framework does include a number of the soft skills competencies that I am focused on.  In the categories of interpersonal and leadership skills, you will find a number that are important soft skills that up to this point have not found a place in the PMBOK® Guide.  Here are some of those competencies that I have addressed in this blog and in my soft skills workshops for project managers.  These first four fell into the category of ‘interpersonal’ skills:

  • Communicates with others
  • Establishes and maintains interpersonal relationships
  • Possesses good listening skills
  • Resolves conflicts and negotiates with others

PMI put the remaining skills into the category of ‘leadership’ skills:

  • Celebrates accomplishments
  • Delegates work and empowers stakeholders
  • Demonstrates high ethics and values
  • Displays model behavior
  • Displays social awareness
  • Embraces diversity
  • Encourages partnering
  • Engages others
  • Inspires others
  • Possesses self-awareness
  • Provides creative environment
  • Recognizes contributions
  • Supports team building

I am pleasantly surprised that PMI even used the emotional intelligence words like social awareness and self-awareness. 

Though not the point of the career framework, it looks through the development of the framework, PMI is starting to appreciate the importance of the soft skills to progression as a PM.  I would like to see these soft skills mapped against the career families (most have not been).

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