As we recharge our “batteries” over the (hopefully) quiet time at year end, it is an ideal time to come up with resolutions for next year.
To help seed your definition process, here are a few thoughts:
1. Grow a spine – the role of a project manager is to facilitate “right” business decision making. Sometimes this means delivering unfavorable recommendations or not acquiescing to irrational demands. I am not advocating career-limiting feedback, but no one will thank you in the long run for just being a “Yes man/woman”.
2. Use the tools of your trade – in low PM maturity environments, or where the organization culture is anti-PM, it can be tempting to jettison all the practices of the profession and go along with the “just do it” mentality. PMI’s Code of Ethics has an appropriate counter-position: “We believe that the credibility and reputation of the project management profession is shaped by the collective conduct of individual practitioners.”. Even in the most chaotic organization, you can still define and apply techniques and principles that will demonstrate the benefits of PM.
3. Define (and execute) a professional self-development plan – the temptation is there to commit oneself wholly to your projects – your success as a PM is judged by the success of the projects you’ve managed. However, this does both yourself and your organization a disservice. Just as organizations should budget a percentage of their time and resources to “internal investments”, a good PM is a learning PM. Projects provide opportunities for gaining domain knowledge and honing soft-skills, but the PM profession is evolving, and staying abreast of these changes is a competitive career advantage. My challenge for those of you that are PMI members, how many of you take the time to read PM Network cover-to-cover each month?
4. Pay it forward – If you are a successful PM, it is likely partially due to the knowledge, coaching and support that you’ve received from other practitioners. The New Year is a great time to think about how you can give back to the profession – through writing or doing presentations, volunteering with your local PM association’s chapter, mentoring a junior colleague or by contributing your PM skills to a social or not-for-profit organization or project. Apart from the obvious benefits in helping others, such activities will help you as well – when working in chaotic or low maturity situations at work, volunteer or mentoring activities can provide the opportunity and gratification to practice our profession “by the book”.
One of the oldest PM cliches says that those who fail to plan will plan to fail – just as it applies to projects, it also applies to you!
Let’s all plan for a productive and progressive 2011!