Introduction: 5 Steps to Becoming a Successful Project Manager
The role of a project manager is a diverse role that covers a huge array of different industries such as media, construction, music, sport and hospitality. Read here about how Marriott International used project management to upgrade their bedding worldwide. Nearly every kind of business will need some form of project management at some point and to become a successful project manager requires a mixture of the right training, skills, attributes and even attitude. Whether you currently have a role as a project manager or you wish to start a career in project management, here are 5 steps to help you on the way to your success.
Step 1: Go on a Project Management Training Course
If you wish to follow a successful career path in project management then getting some sort of qualification is a very good start. As you will realise when we get to the skills and attributes sections, there are many aspects that are transferrable from your personal and previous professional life. However, gaining certification in a chosen career is a wise step in the right direction. Certification in project management immediately shows a prospective employer that you are both qualified and competent to do the job and have the correct set of skills required. There are many project management courses to choose from and many courses are now available online. This is good news for anyone who wishes to retrain whilst still working full or part-time in their current job, or women who are currently at home looking after their children but wish to retrain and start a new career when their child starts school. The availability of flexible online courses means it is now easier than ever to start a new career in project management.
Remember- ‘The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try’– Debbi Fields
Step 2: Find Out What Are the Important Attributes of a Successful Project Manager
Have a good think about what personal attributes you could bring to the role of a project manager. There are several key attributes that will help you become a successful project manager. First and foremost you will need to be a good communicator and able to inspire a team of people. Julian Foster, programme director at Heathrow Airport maintains that communication is the key to their project management ‘…At Heathrow there are many stakeholders: our passengers, the regulator, our airlines, and our investors. There is also the UK Border Force to consult with…What we have to do is make sure we communicate clearly to everybody, so it's one message right from the top’
Honesty and positivity is also important. This means being honest even when you don’t know something or have done something wrong. Even though you are leading a team of people you are not expected to know everything and you are more likely to get respect from your team by being up front with them. Being positive in all situations keeps the team motivated and will also be likely to impress the stakeholders and secure further projects.
Step 3: Find Out What Important Skills Are Needed to Become a Successful Project Manager
As a project manager you need to be able to multi task and wear different hats especially if you end up working on a variety of smaller projects all at the same time. Being able to meet deadlines and keep within a budget is crucial as are top quality organisational skills. You may already have used these skills in a previous job or if you have children and run a household I dare say you will have these skills in abundance. Remember a great deal of project management is common sense and any skills you feel you may be rusty or inexperienced, you can always hone during training.
Step 4: Get Networking- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!
You have done the training, honed your skills and ascertained whether you have the right attributes to be a successful project manager. Now all you need is a project to make a success of. To start with, make a list of the types of industries you would like to work in and even specific companies you would like to work for then throw all fear aside and reach out to these through professional networks. Create a profile on LinkedIn or update your current one to reflect the training, skills and attributes you can bring to a project management role and join project management groups. At the time of writing, searching for the keywords ‘project management’ within groups in LinkedIn brings up 6,328 results. Taking part in discussions and commenting on other people’s posts will bring you into what is an extremely active community and open up job prospects for you. Being active in the Twitter community is also an excellent way of networking.
Project management is a demanding role but it can also be extremely rewarding. Steering a project through from start to finish and through all the ups and downs is a satisfying process. The more you enjoy this type of work the happier you will be and as a result you are bound to be more effective and successful as a project manager. As Churchill once said ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’.
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