DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
Project Management as a career is not for everyone. It takes a special blend of characteristics and traits to be a successful Project Manager. Here are a few of the important areas you should consider before taking the leap.
- Experience - You either have it or you don't. One of the criteria to become a Project Management Professional (PMI Certified) is to show evidence of your Project Management experience. If you have no formal experience, you need to find an opportunity that allows you to start using Project Management processes (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Closing). The ideal place to begin using these processes is at work under the guide of a Project Management Office or Senior Project Manager. If gaining experience at your current job is not an option, volunteer to manage a community project. Start small and build your skills as you go.
- Education & Certification - Many Project Managers are Project Management Professional (PMP) Certified. If you look at most job postings for Project Managers, you will find PMP Certification is desired if not required. PMP Certification is governed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). In order to gain your PMP Certification, PMI calls for a baseline of education and then follow on Personal Development Units (PDUs). The education criteria is as follows: To apply for the PMP, you need to have either a four-year degree (bachelor’s or the global equivalent) and at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. OR A secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent) with at least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. If you do not meet the PMP eligibility requirements, you may want to look at the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification.
- Personality - Project Managers deal with people everyday. You must be a people person or you will likely be unhappy in this role. As a Project Manager, you will be dealing with issues, customer dissatisfaction, customers pushing for freebies, project team members with problems, financial pressure to ensure the project is performing to the agreed upon plan, demand from your own sales team wanting you to fix a problem so they can make the next sale and so on. Project Management is stressful, no doubt. It is not for the lighthearted and you need to have a good suit of armor for the rough days. Never take it personal. So easy to say, so difficult to do.
- Communication - You must be articulate, to the point, straight forward, political and cautious in your communication. Know who you are talking to at all times. Understand the level of detail your audience requires. You can tell your customer "No" in so many ways without ever using the word "No". Diplomacy and compassion will always win over an "in your face" attitude. Besides that - you won't have a job for very long when using the latter approach. If you are going to push back, do it respectfully.
- Focus - Remember to follow the processes and methodologies required of you. Stay focused on the details. Execute the basics (financial reconciliation, staffing projections, estimate to complete, estimate at completion, risk and issue identification and logging, status reporting, schedule updates and appropriate resourcing). Escalate to your manager or Project Executive when you are being asked to abandon the processes. Remember you are not in this alone and follow the processes.
- Drive - You have to really want to be a Project Manager. You will only succeed when your heart is fully committed to this role. The time you spend now pushing toward a career as a Project Manager will come back to you in the future many times over. This is an awesome career and has wonderful earning potential - you just have to want it !!!