Are you struggling to break out as a Project Manager at your organization? Well, you’re not alone. If we think about the 80/20 rule, only 20% of the Project Managers out there are going to rise above the others. After teaching project managers, consulting at many organizations and just reflecting on my career, I’ve come up with five things you need to do to get that next promotion.
Know Your Craft
PMI has been around forever. At least it seems like it. Yet I still bump into PMs who refuse to get certified. I know the arguments. Certification doesn’t make a good PM. I understand. I get it. But… get over it. If you want to set yourself apart (at a large organization), you need to get certified. No ifs… No buts. Go get certified.
Rise Above PM Mechanics
This is going to seem odd after I said to get certified, but the second thing you need to do is rise about the mechanics of Project Management. Anyone can follow a process. Anyone can check a box. Anyone can bug someone until they complete their tasks. Something that only 20% of the PMs can do… is to look at the bigger picture and actually lead a project. Ask questions. Ensure people are engaged. Work with your stakeholders. Look for disconnects and fix them. It never ceases to amaze me how myopic and single threaded most project managers are. Here is a BIG statement – Following project management processes in and of itself, does NOT ensure project success.
This is another phrase for Networking. If you want to be in the 20%, you MUST learn how to market yourself and how to get to know others in your organization. Keith Ferrazzi has a great book by the same name… Never Eat Alone.
Learn How To Problem Solve
This is a tough one. Why? Well, let me make an analogy. On Family Feud the other night, Steve Harvey asked a question. Based on an interview of 100 men, how many of them thought they were good lovers? Uh huh. You know the answer. 100%. How many project managers think they are good at problem solving. Uh huh. 100%. But… only 20% can do this effectively. So how can you ensure you’re in the 20%? Take some classes, or read some books on problem solving.
Work on Your Soft Skills
Project Management is a combination of Skills, Knowledge and Tools. Knowledge is handled by certification. Skills? Well… how are you working on your leadership development? If you’re not… guess what? You’re going to stay in the 80%. Go get some training and actively manage your leadership development.
Know Your Stakeholders
Your primary job as a PM is to manage expectations. No excuses. No exceptions. Your project can come in on time, under budget and within scope, yet still be viewed as a failure if you didn’t manage expectations. On the other hand, you can come in (as compared to initial baseline) late, spend more money and have increased scope, and still come out smelling like a rose…. if you manage expectations. Write this on your forehead – I will manage expectations!
All the best!
All the time!