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The Youthquake Arrives

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A new generation of project leaders is rising. Here are six values they bring to the new Project Economy.

A new generation of project talent is rising around the world. With Gen Z entering the workforce and millennials taking on management roles, organizations are being dynamically altered. These project leaders have unprecedented digital fluency, an unflinching readiness for change, a naturally collaborative mindset, a deep commitment to inclusion and environmental issues—and very high expectations about what that means for how we all work.

Unfortunately, too many companies still cling to old-fashioned talent systems that favor experience above all else. For 60 percent of organizations, attracting and hiring the next generation of project professionals is not even a priority, according to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: A Case for Diversity. That is a formula for failure.

To better understand how to harness the power and promise of future-focused project professionals, PM Network’s special Future 50 issue highlights 50 young standout project leaders who represent a wave of change and talent around the globe—a "youthquake" that will reshape the future and accelerate innovation in the here and now. In interviews with this year’s Future 50 and dozens of other professionals around the globe, common values and expectations emerge. Here are six takeaways:

1. Ignite a Learning Culture. Finger-pointing and blame are out. They expect a culture that cultivates that learning, growth and risk-taking out in the open, not locked away in a classroom or far from senior leadership. And they want to showcase their skill set, their ideas and to fill a more important role in the organization and projects.

2. Pick Up the Pace. Speed is in, especially for career advancement. More than half (57 percent) of Gen Z workers expect to be promoted at least once a year, according to The Workforce Institute. That might seem absurd to the old guard, but there’s an upside to that relentless ambition: sky-high engagement and a powerful work ethic.

3. Play Well With Others. Closed doors are out. They want leaders who are with them, communicating, listening and removing impediments. They want leaders to understand them as individuals and build an environment that allows them to do their best work. 

4. Cultivate Inclusion. Empathy is in. Big-picture thinking, creativity and empathy aren’t fuzzy ideals; they are must-have skill that project managers need to succeed in The Project Economy. And nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of millennials say they’d look to leave an organization that doesn’t share key values on diversity and inclusion, according to Deloitte.

5. Lead With Purpose. Win at all costs is out. Younger people are less comfortable working for a company that doesn’t share their values, placing a premium on organizations that find a way to deliver financial results and serve the social good. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. millennials said they’ve chosen to work at an organization because of its sustainability measures, according to a Swytch survey.

6. Iterate Everything. Feedback is in. With an iterative mindset about everything, they tend to get impatient when there’s no follow-up after a completed task. They see any gap in the feedback loop as a missed opportunity to course-correct and improve work in that moment. And they’re especially interested in project data and performance analytics. 

Get the full story here.

Posted on: July 14, 2020 03:13 PM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Interesting piece Aaron.

How does this play out globally? Some of these sound very "first world" and I think it would be similar here in Australia. However, what about other countries, where cultural and educational systems don't promote the individual and chasing your dreams? Gen Z age groups exist world wide. Or does the Gen Z label include cultural and mindset attributes?

Thanks for sharing

Well written Aaron!

What would be interesting to see is integration of a learning culture with robust risk management.

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