Which Way Do You Want to Take Your Project Management Career?

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A project manager is deep in thought about the direction his career is headed.After you have been in the project leader role for a while you might start to wonder what direction you want to move your career in. There are a few different options to consider here so let’s take a look at some of the main ones to see how we can achieve the one we really want.

More Challenges

Maybe what you want most of all are some new and exciting challenges at work. If this is the case then you should be able to find all of the challenges you could ask for in the project world. Perhaps you will be tempted to move into a different industry or go for a bigger, more complex piece of work such as a high pressure government project. There are many different ways of adding more of a challenge to your working life if you look for them hard enough. One of the top advantages to doing this is that it can mean that you are no longer afraid of any future projects. Let me explain; if you drift along comfortably with relatively easy pieces of work then it can be a real shock to the system to get handed a more difficult project. However, if you are constantly challenged at work then you will find it easier to deal with anything which is thrown your way.

More Money

There are a number of reasons why you might place money as the number one priority in your career. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a particularly cash motivated person you might have some financial problems or be looking to start a family or buy your first home. There is no shame in looking at collecting a better financial package for the work you do. If this is what you need to look for then the price you need to pay could be a more demanding job with longer hours or more pressure. However, as long as you have already thought about this and accepted it then it shouldn’t be a problem for you.

More Responsibility

What many project managers look for is a higher degree of responsibility in their work. This is a natural progression for many of us and if you don’t attend to it at the right time then you could end up getting frustrated. If what you need to progress is to get stretched and feel more responsibility then there are a number of ways of doing this. As strange as it might sound, I think that working for a smaller company could do this for you. The smallest firm I ever worked for also gave me my project management role with most responsibility. I think this is because a smaller company will tend to have less staff in them and you will probably have less bosses or stakeholders peering over your shoulder. I had always been used to working in large teams and with a lot of paperwork and regulated processes. When I went to work for the more modestly sized employer I was suddenly out on a limb without any of these comforting things around me. This is a fantastic way of building up your confidence levels and of becoming more independent as well, although it can be a little scary at first.

More Stability

Perhaps what you really want is a stable job which you can hang your hat on. This is, again, something which you could look for in a number of different situations. In the current economic climate no one can afford to take their job for granted and it could be that you want to look for as much security as possible. In this case I would suggest looking for a big, respected employer and bedding yourself in there. It is still no guarantee of job security in these times but it is a good start.

More Fun

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to look forward to work each day knowing that it is going to be a lot of fun? The problem is in knowing what career move is going to give you this. You might know someone who recommends an employer for this reason but otherwise you could check out the online lists of the best employers to work for. Apart from that, you might need to simply trust your instincts when you turn up for the interview and see what the place and the people are like.

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How to Make the Most of Your Project Leadership Skills

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A project manager sitting in a meeting with his colleagues in the background.One of the aspects of the project management role which most worries anyone new to it is the leadership involved in it.

Leading a project sounds like quite a daunting prospect but could it be that you already possess a lot of the necessary skills without being aware of it? Leading a project is a tough job but what do you already do or know which could help you out?

People Management Never Changes

I reckon that whether you have led a team in an office, in a factory, on a boat or anywhere else it can come in handy. The skills needed for people management never really change from one job to another so if you have done this in the past then you have a great head start. The fact that you are in a new role might be intimidating for you, and you might worry about whether the other team members all have a lot more project experience than you. However, you should remember that you have people management skills which you can transfer over from your previous roles.

Inspire Others

An important attribute for any project leader to have is that of being able to inspire others. This is a skill which comes naturally to some people and if that is the case with you then you will definitely be able to use it in this job. If it isn’t something which you are comfortable with yet then you can still work on it. There are lots of books, DVDs and other types of material around which you can use to improve this aspect of your leadership skills. Even if you are working on a rather mundane sounding project you will still find that the ability to inspire your stakeholders and team members is an invaluable skill to have.

A Positive Personality   

This point has a bit of crossover with the last one I think but it still deserves its own point apart as well. Many projects are long, complex affairs which can drain the energy and positivity from a lot of people. The project manager is the most important member of the team in this respect, as they need to get a feel good factor going when the work hits a sticky patch. If you are a naturally positive person then this is a part of your makeup which you should look to use to keep everyone else thinking positively. Clearly you don’t want to give anyone the impression that everything is going fine when it isn’t, but being able to smile and relax when you are facing up to a big challenge is a huge advantage in any type of work.

Use Your Experience

Even if you have never run a project before or even worked on one, you are sure to still have some sort of relevant experience which you can use to help you do a great job.  What I mean here is that you need to think about your past experience and see what elements of it could come in useful in your new role. This could be any one of a number of things. For example, maybe you worked for a terrific boss you would like to emulate or you were once in a dysfunctional team which taught you how not to do things. It might even be something from your personal life which you can use to help your career in project management. Personally, as I came from a background in analytical work I felt comfortable focussing on this aspect of the role while I got the training I needed on leadership skills and the other areas which I wasn’t so comfortable in.

Keep an Open Mind

If there is one thing which I learned is important in project management it is keeping an open mind. You will come across a lot of new situations and may have to react quickly to changing requirements. This means that you can’t afford to slip into the habit of doing the same thing every single day. Instead, you need to be alert and be aware of the way the project changes and evolves over time. By doing this you can truly lead it instead of being forced to struggle along in its wake. You can then define the course the project takes and feel that you have it under control as much as can possibly be expected. Your team members will no doubt note your approach and it will help them feel confident about the project.

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