27 September 2023

Keys to thriving as a project manager

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Veronica Thraen* shares the top four ways she thrives as a project manager (and you can, too!)

The two questions I am asked most frequently as a project manager are: “How did you get into project management?” and “What do you like about it?”

The answer to the first question is straightforward.

I had no idea what a project manager did, but a hiring manager recognized that I had the appropriate “power skills” (also referred to as soft skills) to succeed in project management.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The answer to the second question is a bit more involved.

Here are the top four ways I thrive as a project manager (and you can, too!).

1) Wear many hats.

If you love wearing many different hats, then project management might be right for you.

For example, a project manager can take on additional responsibilities if the team is shorthanded, such as building a business case (product management), developing requirements (business/technical analysis), or helping with testing (quality assurance).

Wearing multiple hats is a great way to learn all phases of the product development process — and become a more marketable project manager.

2) Creatively solve problems.

One of my favourite aspects of being a project manager is having the opportunity to use my creative side to solve problems.

This could include collaborating with the team to adjust the methodology as needed, implementing a new process, or finding innovative ways of facilitating meetings to increase engagement.

It is possible for a PM to have multiple projects that are managed differently based on type of project or complexity.

Some may require extensive documentation and others may not.

Status reporting could also be different by project based on stakeholder and/or executive requirements.

Always be on the lookout for new or better ways of managing on a project-by-project basis.

3) Work with diverse teams.

In a survey by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 65 per cent say that the “ability to work with others across boundaries to make decisions” is a top power skill.

In a world where many people are working remotely, a PM must effectively communicate with distributed teams, including teams located in other countries with cultural differences that must be considered.

Project managers may also work with executive sponsors, external customers and contractors, internal cross-functional teams, and vendors.

They need to be able to understand complex issues and craft their communications appropriately, depending on audience.

For example, a PM may need to distil a complex message into high-level points for an executive, while communicating technical details to a cross-functional team.

4) Help the team reach an end goal.

Finally, the most rewarding aspect of being a project manager is being a part of a team that works well together and effectively pushes through every challenge and roadblock to successfully achieve their end goal.

Project management is a growing profession that’s in high demand.

The latest PMI Talent Gap Report states that by 2030, 25 million project professionals will be needed globally to fill PM roles – or 2.3 million per year – to keep up with demand.

Do you believe you have the skills to become a top-notch PM professional? If so, consider a certification by PMI or other organizations.

You may just stumble into an enjoyable and profitable career just like I did.

*Veronica Thraen is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Maven Project ManagementHer leadership advice has been featured by Ellevate Network, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.

This article first appeared at ellevatenetwork.com

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