I officially began my career in Project Management in a business setting on October 6, 2015. Before that I served as a youth and family minister who did a whole of projects in the church setting. It’s an interesting comparison and contrast. The journey from my former career started with acquiring PMP certification followed by a roller coaster ride of searching for a career opportunity. Since being hired as a project manager, I’ve learned a whole lot, and continue to learn a lot more every day. I was asked recently what I think is important when beginning a career in Project Management and that caused me to think of these things.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong. There’s a lot to be said for giving it your best shot while being correctable and teachable. I have found more tools (usually for sale) to manage projects than I can possibly ever understand. Certifications offer a host of tools best used not as a standard to achieve, but as a toolbox from which to pull. Sometimes you can see much of what has to be done, and sometimes it’s foggy. That human tendency to not make a move until you have checked, double checked, verified every detail will make it tough to progress. Study the project’s needs and proceed in a direction until you know better. When you know better, do better.
Don’t do “nothing” on your project (s). This statement follows the first point, in my motto. Get past the fear of being wrong, and then be tenacious about the project. In a world where the absolute least effective way to communicate (email) is used most, by far – well, I just don’t think a PM can be content with that much of the time. Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Whether it’s a powerful schedule program, an excel sheet, or a post-it on your nose, find a way to track the lose ends. Those are the things that have been my gotchya’s – so don’t do nothing. Carefully dig deeper so that you don’t believe something’s being done or is done, that isn’t. Those loose ends need not be from a slacker, most folks are simply washed away with their work loads. So, don’t do nothing on the project.
Work to truly be a team player. As much as possible, cultivate a “I’m here to help” culture everywhere you can. I think one can have the best tools, perfect schedule, and watertight plan, but if you must resort to “making” people do their work – whatever that means – it’s a tough road ahead. I’ve already figured out that some PMs are just downright annoying about this. In my view the PM is a leader, a leader of people. When I have been able to “come along beside” a team in a helpful way, I have found a welcome mat and a willingness to work together. That’s not to say that you won’t have to “make” some people do their stuff, but I believe success is a lot closer when you can lead by doing, by being present, by pitching in to help, by understanding and by being willing to work just as hard as you ask anyone else to work. And be positive and optimistic!
That’s my story so far. It may end up like parenting – I thought I knew a lot more about that till I had kids – but I think not fearing being wrong, doing something with projects, and helping your team will help a PM along the way. I’m interested in any thoughts or feedback.