Project management isn’t all about just leading projects. I like to think that if I’m not leading different types of projects along the way and using those different experiences to become a better project manager and share those experiences with other PMs then I’m not really growing in this role. Nor am I increasing my value to my organization, my colleagues and my project customers.
Much of what I write – and other PMs write – when we share our opinions and experiences through articles like this can often seem like logic or common knowledge. But if it helps, affirms, or provides guidance to just one project manager faced with an issue, problem or confidence gap, then it has served its purpose. As project managers we all need to understand some of the pitfalls that can affect a project manager and their teams as they strive to bring a long project engagement to successful closure. And since, thankfully, we all haven’t experienced every success and every failure and every issue known in the project management world, it’s good that we educate and mentor each other along the way. That is what I’m referring to as the other role of the project manager. And that educating and mentoring includes the project team members as well – as they could become the next project managers…or at the very least they provide daily project management input and are often expected to take leadership roles and make critical decisions as part of a small and highly focused engagement team.
PM education should never stop
If you’re like most project managers I know, you can expect to encounter many people who do not fully understand the finer points of project management, such as resource management, budget management and the detailed scheduling of project tasks. What is also lost on many is the need to often use influence rather than authority to get things done. This will be particularly true in organizations that are just beginning to use formalized project management or have traditionally relied on a functional management approach. Take the time to educate others about projects and project management whenever you sense a knowledge gap. This practice will eventually benefit you, as others begin to better understand you and the nature of your life as a project manager.
For me, writing articles and discussing PM issues and experiences in forums and on social media is very rewarding and very informative…both ways. I’m hoping to share knowledge and I know I have definitely gained knowledge from others. I feel that I’ve learned a lot in the process through the thoughtful comments and feedback and experience sharing that our readers have given back to me.
It doesn’t matter which direction the learning process is going. Whether we are thrust into a senior project management role in an organization’s newly formed project management office or if we’re consulting at a startup that is dutifully trying to incorporate PM best practices from day one, it is our job to help those who will be leading future projects gain key insight into how best to perform in the PM role. And it is also our job to reach out to experienced project managers who we consider to be “best practice” practitioners for help and guidance in those dark project management situations we can sometimes find ourselves in. The sharing of important lessons learned serves us all well and makes us better project managers for the organizations we are working in or consulting for. As the saying goes, if we don’t learn from the past, we are destined to repeat it. Let’s not repeat it…