AMA Research: Trends in Talent Development Needs for Project Managers

October 21, 2015

talent development for project managers

What is the best way to train and develop your project management staff? Are there particular skills that need improvement? At the PMI 2015 Conference and Expo, AMA asked questions to help uncover the preferred subjects and learning styles of project management professionals. Based on 197 responses, here are the results and what they mean for your company.

Finding 1: Risk and Stakeholder Management Top List of Development Needs

Respondents were first asked to select the knowledge areas they felt they needed to focus on in terms of learning or development. Given a wide variety of answers and the ability to select more than one, respondents were clear in their need to improve their risk and stakeholder management knowledge areas. Over 42% of respondents selected “Risk Management” and over 39% selected “Stakeholder Management.”

These findings are significant due to the rigorous nature of each of these management skills. Risk management tends to be one of the least practiced planning activities, as it can be complex:  It requires a rigorous and continuous attention to identifying risks, planning for risk responses, managing your reserves, and updating your Risk Register.  Stakeholder Management became a hot area of focus as well, as it is a new knowledge area that was added to the current (5th) edition of the PMBOK.

Finding 2: Leadership and Team Building Skills Deficient

Participants were also asked to identify which soft skills areas they needed to improve the most, providing a more general professional training need. Over 45% of respondents indicated “Leadership” as their desired area of improvement, while over 35% selected “Team Building and Motivation” as an area of improvement.

Finding 3: Project Management Professionals Prefer Classroom and Live Online Training

Next, AMA asked which delivery methods were preferred among project management professionals. The top answers were “Classroom,” selected by over 41% of respondents, followed by “Live Online/Virtual,” which was selected by over 40% of respondents. These options proved to be much more popular and appealing than “Technology-based Simulation/Gamification” and “One-on-One Coaching,” where each received less than 15% of the vote.

Finding 4: High Importance Placed on Project Management Certification

Not surprisingly, when participants were asked if their organizations emphasized that their PM staff be certified, the majority said yes. Over 62% of respondents said their organizations preferred but did not require certification, while over 30% said it was required or mandatory. In a world of increasing demands on project managers and projects, companies that require or prefer to have a certified and trained project management professional are putting themselves in better control.

Finding 5: Project Managers Use a Variety of Methodologies

Finally, AMA asked project managers to describe the types of methodologies used by their organizations. The largest response was “Hybrid,” indicating that companies develop their own methodology based on some of the established methodologies, such as “Agile” and “Waterfall.” “Hybrid” received over 47% of the vote, with “Waterfall” receiving 29% as the next highest response. This shows that versatility is highly valued among project management professionals. The ability to adjust and adapt to new systems and methodologies will benefit professionals in the long run, and will be a skill valued by your organization.

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Now that you know what skills your Project Management Professionals need to know, give them the best training around with AMA's trusted resources and seminars:

About The Author

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.


  1. avatar

    A system is a high level definition of the various elements, both concrete and less tangible, which comprise a viable entity. Systems management comprises the prime activities of Systems Analysis, Systems Design and Engineering and Systems Development.

  2. avatar

    Thanks for the article. I am in full agreement on the Risk and Stakeholder Management. These have often been matters in PM that are either overlooked or not planned properly yet in my experience have been at the top of the list in terms of making a Project Fail or be a Bad one.

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