Tag Archives: how to be a project manager

3 Tips to Advance your PM Career

Just recently I was asked to come up with 3 tips to help project managers just like you advance their careers. The goal was to review tips from various sources and then compile them into one article. Of course you want to know how to be a project manager and learn what project managers do. Beyond that it often comes down to who you are as a human being and how you behave. On that note and with a brief imaginary drum roll?.. here they are 3 tips to advance your PM career!

3-tips-to-advance-in-your-project-manager-careerBe Flexible ? The way to the top is not always straight up. Sometimes you move sideways, and then up. While you remain in the same position waiting for that promotion, others who are more open minded are moving ahead. Before you disregard an opportunity, consider what you have to gain. Does it allow you to learn something new about your organization or industry, add new skills to your portfolio, expand your network or help you build stronger working relationships? You will be compared to others who have shown that they are not afraid to try something new.

Be Likeable – Being likeable is a skillset. You have the ability to be liked. Ability is something you can cultivate it is not an all or nothing trait. Project work is accomplished through people. When everything else is equal, people choose to surround themselves with people who they enjoy. When people enjoy working for you, they are willing to go the extra mile for you and you have a better selection of the most qualified resources. How? Think before you speak. Be sincere and be kind. Treat everyone around you with respect. Be a leader whom others admire.

Be Low-maintenance – Ask yourself this: ?Do I make life easier for the people I work with, or do I make life more difficult, am I high-maintenance or highly valued?? If you do not know the answer, ask someone you can trust. Napoleon Hill said, “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” No matter how important your title may be or how high your salary is, you are serving others. When you come to the office you are there to serve others. When your actions depict service, others will take notice.

Those are some ideas from me, for more be sure to check out the rest of the ideas here.


Project Management is Risk Management, No Wait it is Communications Management

What is the most important body of knowledge? That is a question someone could ask you on a job interview. I know because I have asked the question when I have interviewed candidates and I have been on the receiving end of the question as a job candidate. It may seem like a trick question but it does not have to be. Someone who asks you this question probably wants to know if YOU know the knowledge areas from the PMBOK ? Guide. This is actually a good thing because it means that person is expecting you to be a project manager and draw from the best practices that were created for all of us by the PMI ?. Before we talk about how you should answer this question let’s take a look at risk management versus communications management.

When I teach project management and I’m talking about risk management with my class I tell them that project management is risk management. When I talk to them about communication management I tell them that project management is really focused around communications. Of course after I have told them both of these things I have to joke with them about being schizophrenic. I don’t think I am. (Would I know if I were?) The truth is I want everyone to consider walking around with a mindset of thinking ?What could happen?? When your team member tells you they’re going to finish an activity early don’t just thank them and move on, think ?What does that mean, what could happen because this piece of work is completed early?? If it’s on the critical path of course it means we have the potential to complete early. If it is not on the critical path you have the opportunity to take that resource and perhaps place them on a critical path activity or have them help someone else who’s having a difficult time. In that way you are practicing risk management because you are recognizing an opportunity. In the same way if a team member approaches you to tell you that it looks like some materials that have been ordered are going to be late you want to think to yourself ?What could happen because these materials are going to be late, what can be done about this?? I really am asking you to develop a proactive mindset.

Another way that I say this is when you have a colleague who is managing projects and it looks like her projects always go very smoothly, you might be tempted to think that she always gets the easy projects to manage. That is probably not the case. Your colleague is probably very good at risk management and she walks around with a proactive mindset. She makes it look easy because she has identified and determined responses for many threats and opportunities that her project team will face.

Now what does any of this have to do with communications management? What good is a completed risk register if nobody sees it? Not only do you want to walk around with a proactive mindset you also want to add to that phrase, so that the full sentence is, ?What could happen and who needs to know about it??

Let?s return to the interview. Your potential future employer looks across at you and asks you what is the most important Body of Knowledge? You can say all of them. But this person is really looking for you to make a decision. Go ahead and start out by saying that the PMBOK? Guide has many important processes and that all of them should be considered when running a project. Then you can narrow your focus and pick just one. If you could only use one Body of Knowledge on your project which one would it be and why? Make a strong case for your Body of Knowledge. Many times the interviewer has a preconceived notion as to what they want you to say. Often someone is looking for you to say either risk management or communications management. You can try to second-guess the interviewer and give the answer you think that they want. Or you can just do an excellent job with your answer. It’s best to just give your answer, that’s where you will be the most convincing and authentic.

I still remember an interview where I was asked which Body of Knowledge I thought was the most important. I responded with communications management because I felt that so many projects suffered communication breakdowns. My interviewer listened to me carefully. When I finished he told me that he thought risk management was the most important and he told me why. We talked a little bit more and the interview ended. On the way home I told myself ?Well there’s one job I won’t be getting.? Guess what? I did get the job. I got the job because that particular manager needed someone to balance him out. He needed someone who came with more of a communications perspective, to balance out his more scientific risk-based approach. Now you see why it’s so important to just tell the truth. As much as you may want that job offer, you really don’t want to work someplace where you don’t fit in.

Pump Up Your Project Management Skills with These Strategies

This article by Jennifer Morris is a great reminder on some excellent project management communications basics.

Be sure to watch this pmStudent mini-lesson for Quick Communication Tips too!

There is always room for improvement in project management and new ways to get ahead in the game. Whether you are new to the world of project management or if you have been a project manager for years, you’re sure to learn something from these timeless tips, some of which were inspired by Brad Egeland of ProjectInsight.net. If you’ve been managing clients and projects for a long time, think of this as a refresher course. If you’re new to the world of management, read on and pick up a few “new to you” ideas.

Communication is Key

keytocommunicate If you want to be successful in your position as a project manager, you need to be a clear and confident communicator and always stay in contact with your team. Remember, you are the point of communication between the client and the company you work for, so you are your company’s representative, the person who the client will contact with questions or concerns. If you are not easy to communicate with or lack clarity and have issues with organizing your thoughts, this is something that you need to focus on improving. If you have issues with communication,?Egeland suggests to use reminders on your project resource management calendar to follow up with project sponsors or clients. Touching base with your team is equally important so that you have information on every stage of your client’s project and can relay the progress during client and company meetings.

Schedule Meetings and Stick to Your Agenda

Before you meet with your client and your team, chart a game plan that is loose enough to accommodate?sudden changes, but structured enough make sure that everyone is on the same page. A good way to do this is to use a web-based project management program that you can alter to fit the needs of your project. Use Microsoft Outlook’s calendar application to schedule weekly or biweekly meetings with your creative team and your client. Make sure that you have an agenda that suits the planning phase for each meeting so that you don’t jump ahead of a phase for your project’s development.

Launch an Internal Kickoff Meeting

kickoffMeetingHaving a meeting that will bring all of the elements of the project together. This can be taken care of easily if you know the right questions to ask your client and you have a clear vision of who the client is and what their needs are. An internal meeting is also a great way to brainstorm possible ideas, concepts and budget your time with your team. A kickoff meeting doesn’t need to be a long drawn out talking session. You don’t have to address every issue that could come up right there. Keep this meeting brief and to the point. Your client might have all of the time in the world to talk about how great they are, but time is money and you and your team have to get to work.

Whether your company has an endless supply of money to work with or if you’re working on a shoestring budget, these simple practices are essential to the success of any project manager.

Jennifer Morris is an ardent follower of cloud solution trends and database security improvement. She shares tips and advice with her readers on several business-related sites.