Four Keys to Project Management Career Growth
There is a continually increasing demand for skilled project managers across all industries. Senior project managers are not only at the forefront of driving change for their organizations, but their position typically involves a substantial salary base. There are four keys to successful career growth and development within the project management field of expertise:
- Project Management Approaches
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to project management. As the project manager, you will need to have a strong understanding of the project constraints, environmental considerations, and product development options to select the best approach when working on a project. Traditional or plan-driven approaches are appropriate when the work is well-defined: plan the work and work the plan. In environments with increased uncertainty and a perceived level of complexity, adaptive or agile approaches may be more appropriate. In today's business environments, it is common to see project managers applying hybrid approaches. A strong project manager understands the different approaches, the pros and cons of them, and what would best serve the project needs.
- Leadership Skills
A project manager is no longer a task-manager but rather a strategic leader that is guiding and influencing not only their team members but also the organization. The project manager is uniquely positioned to provide leadership in all directions. Having solid leadership or soft skills is at the core of successful project management. Soft skills to be developed include emotional intelligence, communication (both written and verbal), creating a vision, inspiring others, giving and receiving feedback, and meeting facilitation. Regardless of title or authority, the project manager is in a position to be a leader to those involved in and impacted by the project.
- Strategic Thinking
In the early days of project management, the project managers were considered to be task managers, not leaders. However, in today's complex environment, organizations expect their project managers to be considering their projects from a strategic alignment perspective. As projects are selected, initiated, and monitored and controlled, the project manager is responsible for benefits management to validate that the project results will return a benefit to the organization, while aligning with the strategic direction of that organization.
While it is essential to think strategically and create a vision, a skilled project manager must also be able to put together a technical and tactical plan for achieving that vision. This may include leveraging expertise outside of their own, building a strong team, and engaging stakeholders throughout the project, taking all of the steps necessary to deliver the project that supports that vision.
One of the most credible methods of establishing yourself as an experienced and skilled project manager is to pursue and achieve one or more project management certifications. The most globally recognized certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP) issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMP credential signifies that the project managers have not only met the educational and experience requirements for certification but they have also passed a rigorous 200-question exam.
PMI also offers other specialized project management certifications that can further elevate your status as a skilled project manager, such as the PMI Risk Management Professional, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, Program Management Professional, and the PMI Scheduling Professional. More information on the various project management certifications can be found at www.PMI.org.
Project management is an ever-growing and ever-changing field that provides significant opportunities for project professionals. By creating a deliberate plan for growth and personal development, you can continue to progress in this lucrative professional role!
Project Management Professional (PMP) and "PMP" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.