People who enter the project management (PM) career field need a great deal of creativity, technical know-how, patience, and business knowledge. The job entails a constant barrage of challenges that demand constant, focused attention and a can-do attitude. Fortunately, overworked, and stressed-out PMs can turn to a long list of hacks, pro tips, quick fixes, and tested solutions to make their days a bit less hectic. Working as the leader on any major task entails doing several things at once.
In the digital age, team leaders who head up various kinds of projects need to be good at delegating, communicating, setting goals, measuring progress at important milestones, dealing with a wide variety of personalities, working alongside other teams, understanding the necessary software, and problem-solving. Being a PM is no simple chore. But once you dive in and start building experience and acquiring the pertinent skills, you'll be on the way to a successful career. Consider the following suggestions as possible ways to streamline the process.
Use The DPG Method
There are many reasons to become a project manager and seek success in the industry. Details, priorities, and goals are the first three major pieces of every project's long-term success. Managers should begin by collecting and studying all the project's details down to a microscopic level. Then, it's time to apply that information and insight to set priorities. Finally, the schedule should include a set of realistic, measurable goals. It can take time to implement the DPG (details, priorities, goals) system, but the effort is a wise way to spend time early in the process.
Earn a Graduate Degree
It's often overlooked amid the long list of ways to tackle the PM challenge, but a very stealthy way to bolster your skills and acquire a rock-solid base of current industry practices is to get a master's degree. Most MBA programs offer specializations in several subjects that either touch on project management or deal with it directly in an academic setting. However, one of the great advantages of grad school, compared to a typical four-year college diploma in Business Administration, is that there are multiple chances to gain on-the-ground experience via internships.
What about paying the total price tag for a specialized graduate degree? Of course, the ideal way is to get an employer to pony up the funds. But unless you're lucky enough to already work for a generous corporation, the most common financing method is to take out a student loan. Luckily, lenders are willing to work with grad students because folks with advanced degrees tend to earn much more during their lifetimes than other workers. If your goal is to sharpen your PM expertise by studying for a master's degree, explore your student loan options without delay.
Consider Official Certification Programs
After earning an advanced degree, explore the possibilities of acquiring PM certification. Courses are relatively lengthy and are not inexpensive. However, the credential sets you apart from others and delivers a potent mixture of real-world and academic experience. Some employers pay for the coursework, so it's a good idea to inquire with your supervisor about the chances of getting a tuition subsidy.
Take a Proactive Approach
At every stage of the game, be on the lookout for possible pitfalls and glitches in projects. That's part of the managerial aspect, but it's also an efficient way to catch problems before they start to grow and spread. The attitude of being optimistic but at the same time trying to find potential problems can be difficult to achieve, but experienced PMs usually figure it out during their careers.
It's essential to build long-term relationships with one or more mentors. Don't assume one will do; many high-level managerial operatives have as many as five mentors. What can you learn? A talented mentor can help teach you the value of patience, a particularly valuable skill for juggling multiple responsibilities and overseeing complex tasks that involve dozens of people. Figure out how to find a mentor that you gel with. Always be honest with mentors and describe your needs in specific terms. The more details you can provide, the better they'll be able to help in trying times.
Become Familiar With All Team Members
A competent PM tries to learn crucial facts about each member of the work team. At the top of that list are things like communication styles, weak points, strong points, ability to deliver work on time, general attitude, and honesty. When you delegate various duties to individuals, always try to assign work in an efficient fashion. On deadline-sensitive chores, only use those who have a solid track record of getting their work done on time.
Do a Complete Review
Whether the result was success, limited success, or something less than a sterling performance, do a thorough post-mortem to gain insight about what went wrong and why, what went right and why, and how you can apply some of those lessons on the next job you and your team tackle.
Pay Attention To Software
There are numerous kinds of PM-related software in the market today. Sometimes you'll get a chance to choose which one you use in a specific situation. In other instances, the company or a member of higher management will decide for you. Regardless of which system or proprietary software product you end up with on a given job, learn it inside and out. You'll be spending countless hours with it for the next few weeks or months, so invest time and energy to acquire a full understanding of all its features, strengths, and weaknesses.