How to Advance Your Career in Project Management
Career advice for new and novice project managers
The tips and advice in this article are suitable for wannabe project managers and for people who wish to advance a little with their career. This article offers a few tips on self-directed learning, and in areas where you should build skills and grow your experience.
Take Project Manager Courses
There are plenty of places where you can take high quality project manager training courses. You are not restricted to college and university courses since there are plenty of learn-at-home courses and vocational courses that will help you get a leg up in project management.
Do a little research and discover the types of programs that people in your chosen industry are using. For example, if you are working with big data, then companies are probably using things like NIFI, Flume, and Kafka. If you are serious about becoming a project manager, then learn how to use them, and learn on your own time. There are How to/Dummies books out there that teach you how to use these types of programs.
Get to Know Other Project Managers
You are going to read lots of other articles telling you to be flexible with clients, communicate, delegate, and so forth, but these are all throwaway advice that could apply to any situation.
The best learning tool is experience, but a close second is to watch and observe a professional project manager at work. Getting experience in your chosen industry is vital prior to taking a project manager position. While getting your industry experience, you can watch your bosses and managers at work.
Take copious notes and type them up when you get home to create your own comprehensive guide to project management. Pay close attention to what doesn't work and ask yourself why it doesn't work. Ask yourself why your current manager is unable to get good work out of the younger employees or why your current boss keeps missing daily update targets.
Forget Trying to Push Staff Members
Being a project manager means you have to deal with people, and it is sad how many people start out thinking they have to treat staff like school children--going as far as giving orders with their hands on their hips. You shouldn't have to push the people in your project groups; you should be there to help and assist them. You are their helper, not their dominant master.
Do not concentrate on learning how to push employees, and forget most types of motivational advice. Think of it more as giving people responsibilities. You are not giving them tasks, chores, or work; you are giving them responsibilities. They are set to answer for those responsibilities, be it for doing a good job or a bad one. Pushing and motivating project staff is unnecessary. You do not see surgeons putting their feet up during surgery and having their bosses come in and yell at them.
Project Manager Skills
If you want to build and advance your career, then work on the skills listed below. For project managers, these skills take on a slightly different meaning, which is why they have been quickly explained.
Time management and planning
They go hand-in-hand because it is imperative that you know exactly how long each task should take, and how much of a time buffer you should leave at each end for contingencies.
Organization and management
This means putting the right tools, equipment, resources and people on the correct tasks whereby they will be their most efficient.
A good project manager will set people off on their tasks promptly and need not communicate with them again until each task is done. With modern management software, the process requires even less communication.
Negotiation through education
Project managers need not be good negotiators. They need to be good educators. They need to be able to quickly explain to clients, bosses, and employees why a task needs to be done and why it will take the time and resources you requested.
Lose the “Hands on Hips” mentality. You are part of the team, you are the gateway between yes and no. You help, you guide, and you cooperate in order to lead.
This is not usually your job, but when it is, your best ally is experience. If you do not have the experience, then hire/pay consultants to help guide you.
Advance Upwards or Outwards
Work under good project managers and as they move up you can take their positions. However, if you have tried and failed numerous times to get a promotion, then start looking to other companies.
Apply for project manager jobs that you know you probably won’t get, but apply for them anyway. You gain valuable interview experience, and maybe even make a few new contacts that will help you later in your career. Plus, you can start learning “Exactly” what it takes to get your desired job, rather than having to suffice with more generic advice like the sort of thing you read online.