Recently, I was approached by a friend who wanted some advice on taking his career as a Project Manager to the next level.
In giving this some thought, I came up with a few suggestions for his consideration.
Even if you’re not in Project Management, I think there are a few ways to deepen your skills and knowledge that are useful across all areas:
Spend time with other Senior Project Managers, either in your company or through outside organizations.
If there is a Senior Project Manager in your organization that you recognize as a high performer, make it a point to spend time with him: Go to coffee or lunch every few months. Most people love to help others grow.
If you are passionate about being a Project Manager, join your local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter. Attending the monthly meetings is a great way to network, hear other Project Managers talk about their experiences and spend time with more Senior Project Managers.
Or, ask others to connect you to people they trust.
Own your career.
Don’t be afraid to ask for tougher projects. My biggest growth as a Project Manager came during the most painful projects.
You have to take it upon yourself to grow your career. Don’t be afraid to ask for the next big project in the organization, then lean on your support team for help (see above).
Find easy ways to consume information.
Podcasts in the car are an easy way to “hear” project management content. Not super exciting, but a good way to pick up some ideas.
Develop your speaking and presentation skills.
This is an overlooked skill that a great Project Manager needs. From kick off meetings to running a status meeting your presentation skills are critical.
Joining Toastmasters is a great way to practice and get experience.
Know Robert’s Rules of Order.
I think this is critical in being able to run an effective project and team meetings. While it’s a little old school, it never fails that I need it in a meeting. I always respect a Project Manager that can maintain control of her meetings – and so does the team, and that leads to better results.
I believe the best Project Managers have a deep toolbox, but are able to decide what tools to use and when to use them: Not every nail needs to be hit with a hammer. Developing that skill can help you become a very valuable Project Manager.