When you start out as a project manager you will have lot of enthusiasm but you will no doubt be painfully aware of the number of areas which you need to improve on as your career progresses. These development areas are sure to be different for each of us but I think that there are some points which most new project leaders will all have in common.
Better Decision Making
One of the skills you should expect to improve with more experience and maturity is around the making of decisions. At first you might make the common mistake of diving in and trying to get everything sorted out in double quick time. This simply isn’t possible and over time you will no doubt learn this. With a greater level of experience in the job you can begin to make better decisions and do it more confidently as well. Until this comes naturally you should look to spend more time on the big decisions and try to use your common sense to make up for your lack of experience in the job.
Improved Team Leading
Another aspect of the project manager role which can take some time to come to terms with is that of leading a team. Unless you have already done this in the past then it is probably going to take some getting used to, especially if you are trying to get comfortable with your own role and the other tasks you need to carry out. Looking after a project team is a tough job and one which will take up a lot of your time. At first you may find this to be one of the most intimidating parts of the role but if you stick at it then it could turn out to be very rewarding. If you have a team which looks after itself then you might consider this to be a blessing. However, if your teams need more coaching and support from you then this will give you the chance to progress more rapidly with these skills.
The Ability to Remain Positive
Of course, some of the issues you need to learn about are harder to define than others. Your attitude is one such thing and one of the most important parts of it is in how you manage to stay positive. Again, experience can play a big part in this. Once you have been in a few tough projects and managed to get them through to the end successfully you will realize that even really tough problems can be overcome if you approach them in the right way. At first it is going to be a lot more difficult for you to stay positive when things go wrong. This is only natural and you wouldn’t be the first or the last project manager to let negative thoughts creep into their head. You should look for any tips or tricks you can find to help you stay positive in the early days. One I can remember being told involves simply writing down a lot of the good things to have happened on the project to date. It is sure to be a lot longer than the list of bad things which could be preying on your mind.
A Calmer Attitude
Can you stay calm while your project is rushing ahead at full speed? This probably depends a lot upon your background and your previous jobs. For instance, if you are used to a job which involves the same tasks each day and not much pressure then you could find that the intensity of the project leader role takes you by surprise. In any case, you will learn to stay calmer as your career moves on. This is mainly because you will simply learn that staying calm and looking ahead without any panic is the best way to make a success of your time in the role. The best project managers I have worked with were all calm people who could exert a wonderful calming influence on the people around them. If, on the other hand, you tend to panic in difficult situations then this is sure to make the rest of your team more nervous and give out a bad image to the stakeholders. For many project managers the best way to stay calm is to engross themselves in the work and make sure that they can control how it is progressing and the eventual outcome.