We all make mistakes from time to time and this is nothing to beat yourself up about when it happens to you on a project. However, when it starts becoming a problem is when you make the same mistakes over and over again and don’t seem to be learning from them.
Ideally you will learn from each mistake you make in order to avoid making it again in the future. To do this you should keep the following pieces of advice in mind.
Be Honest with Yourself
If you aren’t honest with yourself then this means that you will never learn from your mistakes. It is easy to try and pass the blame onto someone else but deep down you will know if there is something you could have done better. If you can start by being honest about what your performance was really like then you will have a far better chance of improving in the future. Even if your manager and your stakeholders are pleased with what you have done you should always try to be your own worst critic and look to find anything you did wrong even if no one else seemed to have noticed it. You will remove some nagging doubts from your mind if you do this and will feel a lot better about moving your career forwards positively.
Listen to the Feedback You Get
Of course, you are likely to receive a lot of feedback on your project work. In fact, you should ask for this in your end of project report. This is a fantastic way of seeing what other people think of your actions, although there is the chance that some of it could be hard to read if it has been a difficult project. The one thing you then need to do is be sure to read what is sent to you and act on it. You might be tempted to brush over anything which isn’t too complimentary to you but you should try not to do this. Instead, you need to look at the issues from the other person’s perspective and decide whether you made a mistake or not. This feedback is among the best type of advice you will get to help with your future career so you should treat it as such and look to use it as a way of making your projects better in the future. You can also receive feedback at any point during the piece of work so you should be alert to this and pay attention to what people are saying about you and how you handle the role.
Set Yourself Improvement Targets
Once you think that you are as good as you can ever be then you are truly in trouble. In any job you need to always have targets and this is never truer than in project work. You will come across such a wide variety of tasks and challenges that it would seem foolish to suggest that you have seen and done it all in this role. You will also realize that you only meet the targets which you are clear on. What this all means is that it is important that you set yourself demanding targets and keep on tracking them as you progress. These can be on any aspect of the job but I would suggest that you are best trying to get a good mix of targets which help you focus on improving in a few different aspects of the job at the same time.
Learn from Others
There are few better ways of learning than by watching and listening to experts who have got a lot more experience than you. If you make a mistake which you aren’t sure how to learn from then why not have a chat with someone who you think has probably been through the same thing as some point in the past? You might find that they can give you the suggestions you need to learn from their mistakes. Even if don’t, sometimes it can be nice just to talk to someone who has been through the same sort of thing before and who is willing to listen to you. You might even realize that highly experienced project managers still make mistakes and need to look for reassurance from time to time. After a while you can find yourself in the position of being the experienced project leader which newer staff come to in order to learn from.