Let’s be clear, there are some Project Managers that have the skills they need, ingrained in every fiber of their being … And there are some Project Managers who learn and hone their craft through training and practical application. Whichever you are, you’re giving yourself the skills and abilities to be able to develop and have a lifelong career of learning, diversification and a varied skillset that can be applied to almost any job. So congratulations!
I’ve been a project manager before I even knew what one was. I always loved organising, planning and leading a team. Whether that was a school project, a list for going away or planning a holiday in itself but this craft has been honed through a series of trainings, practical experience and knowledge learning. When I was going through a careers advice service, I was told by someone: Do something that you love and enjoy and then it’ll never feel like work… and this is certainly true for Projects!
How do you become a successful Project Manager if it’s not in your blood? What turns the good into great Managers? I think it comes down to a few factors:
1) Know your weakness.
So, you know that you can communicate pretty well but trying to plan a project effectively is a minefield for you? Then invest your time into planning courses, and look into development opportunities which will give you the opportunity to do this.
2) Keep learning and trying.
Even if it’s ingrained within you to be a Project Manager you can never afford to stop learning and trying to improve. We could all be better, all be doing something with more detail or grace. This is the time to learn what it is and what you can do to be better.
3) Know yourself.
I’ve got a colleague of mine who by their own admission “is an average PM”. When we were talking about our growth paths/development plan within our respective companies for the next year, he asked me for some advice. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “What interests you?”
Phil: “Not much. I’m just in my job to do it, not get fired and go home”
Me: “OK, but you’ve been a PM for over 10 years now. What about finally getting your PMP?”
Phil: “Nah, it isn’t my thing. I don’t want to do the studying or the stress with the exam”.
Me: “OK, but what about another certification? Or where would you like to be in 5/10 years time?”
Me: -> Bemused face
What would you have said /advised Phil in his situation? My advice turned into a skill based one. We discussed what skills he felt like he could use improving (presenting to management/stakeholders) and what skills did he like and want to hone? (Data analysis and how to use this to reduce his workload).
In the end, you cannot force someone to be good at their job, nor can you force someone down a path they do not want to go but what I can recommend is that you look at what interests you, what makes you tick and then look at how you can use this in your daily job as when it’s fun and interesting, it doesn’t feel like work!
Let’s talk about what works best for you and how you work out what you enjoy. How do you identify it? What works best for you?