Rosemary Hossenlopp, MBA PMP © 2007 All Rights Reserved
Project managers increase the chance of project failure by not planning project work. You have heard the saying “Plan the Work and Work the Plan.” It is true for career planning too. Project managers limit their personal success and growth by failing to plan their careers. Layoff’s leave them unprepared for their next step. Changes in methodologies and technologies cause catch project managers off guard when interviewing for their next position.
The Project Management Career Development Paradox
The project management career development paradox is that your boss only wants you to keep doing what is needed for current project success. That prevents you from growing as a project manager. To be ready for the ever changing job market, you need to develop the skills needed to get you where you want to go.
Take the following step and create your project management career plan.
How To Get What You Want
Your project management vision statement states where you want to go. Project managers need a personal vision statement. A vision statement documents your ideal future. It’s a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. This is your first step in creating a project management career plan.
A project management vision statement is several things:
â€¢ It’s a confident view of your future.
â€¢ It excites your imagination about what you want to do
â€¢ It encourages creativity to achieve what you need to do to get there
â€¢ It’s the foundation for all your project management career development plans
Vision writing is taking the dreams in your head and putting them on paper. Take a moment to think about your vision for your project management career? Write down a couple of words.
That was tough, wasn’t it? You may have been a project manager for years. But it is very hard to describe your personal vision. Here is some help.
A Personal Vision Statement Formula
Your personal vision statement will consist of what you are known for and what atmosphere you like to work in. Let’s start creating one.
A Personal Vision Statement Lists Your Differentiators
You can not be all things to all people. Differentiators state what you like and why people like you and want to work with you. You need to answer the question of what differentiates you from your project manager peers? This is what you are known for.
Project managers are generally a commodity in the market. That’s the bad news. Your Christmas present to yourself is that you can package yourself. You are a brand. You can work on your brand image. Employers will seek you out when you are differentiated from other project managers. Let’s review of couple of differentiators.
What type of results do you get? When people describe you as a good project manager; what do they mean? This might hint at what makes you different. These could be the things you do or how you do it. How you do it is soft skills. Soft skills are in big demand. It sounds fluffy to say that you are good at collaboration. But if you have big dollar projects and lots of visibility, having excellent collaboration skills is critical to project success.
Take the example of being a great collaborator; let’s be clearer about what that means. You can describe specific impacts on project performance. This could include:
â€¢ Cost performance: Describe how you improved estimating expenses and kept the team on budget. Truly: if you do this, the world wants to know!
â€¢ Schedule performance: Describe what you did to keep the project on track.. We want your special contribution, not just that you created and managed a schedule.
Common Mistakes in Describing Your Differentiators
Sometimes we can don’t describe our differentiators well. We may do the following. I know as I make these mistakes when people ask me what I do.
â€¢ Describing a job e.g.., Technical PM, PMO subject matter expert. Ok . . . but what results do you deliver?
â€¢ Describing the skill sets needed to be successful: e.g., PMP, additional certificates or college education. Ok . . . you are telling people you are smart. But did you tell them how you increase project success?
â€¢ Starting with “I want too.” OK . . . we all want to do what we like to do and get paid lots of money for it. But we need to think from our bosses position, what are we doing that helps the project organizations. Let’s align ourselves to where the market is heading too and what companies reward project managers for.
Write Your Differentiator
â€¢ It may be that you reduce cycle time of CRM implementations for top 500 firms. WOW.
â€¢ You could also be the product development expert in a certain field: I would want to hear more.
â€¢ You could work only on troubled IT projects: I’m excited to hear your story.
Differentiators are your technical competence. In Part two we will talk about your personal values that make you a star at work.