Project management is a desirable function for any professional looking for next-level growth. The position does come with some amount of power and prestige. In architecture, for instance, the project manager handles communication with stakeholders, budget issues, and quality control.
It is a great place to be in terms of one’s goal of going high up the ladder. However, it also comes with some heavyweight responsibilities. Anyone eyeing this post should have accumulated experience, expertise, and a lot of empathy throughout the years.
Here are some steps to prepare you, keep you on track, or help you evaluate yourself for project management:
Train yourself in the art of visioneering
Visioneering is a term — and a practice — that Disney employees embrace. They encounter it at Disney Academy, which trains them in its art. It comes from the words “vision” and “engineering”. And you might have guessed what it means.
The company behind the idea has brought a lot of dreams into reality. As a project manager, you will merge a lot of ideas and make things happen. Your team will encounter challenges along the way, but it is your task to keep the vision. What do your team, bosses, and clients want to see at the end of the project? That is the vision. And you are expected to get everyone aligned with it to the end.
Cultivate great communication skills
“My belief is that communication is the best way to create strong relationships.”
- A trait of a good project manager according to Jada Pinkett Smith
Nothing can be more frustrating for a client or an employee than being left misunderstood by a project manager. This situation can also cause far more trouble if a project manager is also unable to relay pertinent messages to the higher-ups.
To prevent such things from happening or becoming a nightmare, a project manager must develop clear communication skills. He or she must also be able to speak with people from different levels and perspectives. In doing so, he or she must relay the plans, goals, steps to be taken, and many others with clarity.
Having technical knowledge of the field you’re in is the foundation you need to become a project manager. Thus, while you are preparing to become one, you must fill the gaps in your knowledge and skills.
For instance, in software development, you must employ more lightweight, adaptive methodologies such as XP, Scrum, and DSDM. You need to acquire certifications such as CSM or Certified ScrumMaster.
In general, you can also seek certification as a PPM or Professional in Project Management. This kind of certification recognizes your ability to direct and lead a team toward the completion of plans and goals.
Transform into a time management ninja
Keeping people and projects on track is definitely among the top challenges of project managers. There are far too many distractions in the modern workplace. At the same time, teams can encounter speed bumps or pit stops and struggle to move forward.
Project managers also need to manage the expectations of clients and bosses, including timely delivery of projects.
With all these moving parts, a project manager has to become a time management ninja. You must master techniques that will allow you to pay attention to people and project details, even while you simultaneously run other areas of your life.
Build a community
“Projects are a very dynamic situation, and so support of all the key people in the organization is really important in keeping things moving. This is especially true when things go wrong,” says Paul Naybour of Parallel Project Training via CIO.
Again, this gargantuan task falls on the project manager. It is more than just giving each member a pep talk. It involves getting the solid support of the higher-ups — a skill that requires charm and ingenuity on the project manager’s part.
Add to this the necessary mind and heart space for the people you are leading. As their leader, you need to boost their morale especially during challenging times, like when things go wrong. You need to acknowledge their hard work and affirm it. You should always be ready to offer them a “Good job!”