You consider yourself a pretty good, experienced and dedicated project manager. Your projects are more likely to succeed than your fellow PM colleagues. You seem to complete them on time and on budget more often than not, and many of the more complex projects get handed to you by your senior leadership because of your history of PM successes. Great! Now how do you get better?
You’re a good project manager, but there is room for improvement, right? You always want to keep growing, and if you’re dedicated to the profession, you want to go from good to great. But how? Read books, take classes, get certified. Everything can and likely will help, but here are what I’ve found to be the most helpful and potentially interesting ways to increase your PM skills…
This one is totally up to you. I think it is a good move, if only to show commitment to the profession. Whether it is PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CAPM, PMI-PBA, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, Scrum, or one of the many others, there are new things to be learned in becoming certified. The certification you choose should depend on what you are focusing on. When earning a certification, you’ll learn a common language, and you will usually be forced to get ongoing education to maintain it (I’m looking at that as a positive here). Additionally, you will be networking and connecting with other like-minded professionals. Win-win-win.
Networking is a great way to meet individuals in your line of work… and it’s no different with project management. Now, with anything and everything online, you don’t have to just go to your nearest PMI (Project Management Institute) chapter meeting to network with like-minded professionals. Nor are you stuck networking just with your PM colleagues at work who may be too like-minded and stuck on the same methodology to gain any new or real insight and knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, colleagues are great, but the stories, experiences and opinions you can get from the outside are the pieces of information and knowledge that may move you from good to great in the project management world. Check out Facebook and LinkedIn groups and search for project management articles online from PM experts writing about their opinions and experiences.
Train on different PM products
You may use one specific product for most or all of your project management needs, and it may even be a home-grown product from within your own organization. But there is more out there – and learning about what other software tools offer can increase your PM knowledge and skill set. It can also help you lead with regard to recommending tools and functionality you think might be helpful for your team and your colleagues.
Either way, trying out various PM products is about gaining more knowledge on your profession and discovering what’s available to do your job better… so learning about tools can be a very good thing. For instance, while looking for new PM software, I came upon this cool little timeline maker that plugs into PowerPoint and lets you create simple, eye-catching project visuals within minutes – pretty useful for high-level presentations!
Attend some tech conferences
I’m lucky, I live in Las Vegas and nearly every big technology conference is either regularly held here or periodically visits here. Regulars are Interop, Black Hat (a great digital security conference which PMs should be paying attention to), the Techwell conferences on software development practices, AWS re:Invent (Amazon Web Services), and VMWorld. These are great ways to gain some new tech knowledge, and you may sometimes even find PM software and PM-related tool vendors showing their wares – especially at a conference like Interop. If you are a technical project manager, then I strongly advise you to consider attending one of these events or try to catch any videos from these conferences online.
Summary / call for input
Stepping out of your daily routine or comfort zone may be something you don’t think you have time for. But trust me – it’s a good thing and will make you a more diverse and opinionated project manager overall. PM is a great community and career path, but it’s also a very easy area to get stagnant in. Branch out… check out these things on my list… try it over the next year and see the difference it will make for you.
Readers – what are your thoughts? What would you add to this list? Please share and discuss.