If managing project after project in your current role is making you feel like a ship adrift in the Sargasso Sea, here are a few potential growth paths:
1. Continue to take on projects with greater scope & larger complexity within your domain. No matter how large your last project, there’s always a bigger or more challenging one out there.
2. Change domains. While it can be difficult to transition to managing a project in a domain with which you have no experience, you could seek opportunities that enable you to leverage some of your previous experience while you learn the nuances of a new industry.
3. Go global or go virtual. If you have only managed local projects & resources, the challenges you will face with remote teams and global stakeholders will be more than made up by the benefits such diversity can bring to a project.
4. Evolve into program management. Not every project manager is successfully able to transition to program leadership, but for those that do, the increase in strategic work effort combined with closer alignment with business & operations can generate greater job satisfaction and (if you are so inclined) can provide the improved visibility & credibility necessary for promotion to the executive wing.
5. Assess your competencies & specialize. PMs tend to be versatile generalists, but you may find your experience and interest lend themselves to specializations such as team building, negotiation or troubled project recovery. While there are certainly some pitfalls in specializing in any career, the big upside in a maturing profession is that differentiation usually encourages longevity.
6. Volunteer. I know, after a hard day’s (week’s or month’s!) labor, the last thing you may feel like doing is project managing in a volunteer capacity, but you might find that the gratification you get and honest recognition you receive might help to energize your batteries for your normal role. It doesn’t have to be a significant undertaking – it could start by mentoring a junior PM.
7. Move from vendor to client (or vice versa). Sufficient time spent in either vendor or internal PM capacities provides some unique insights into the other camp. Of course, you might find that the grass is not always greener – some personalities are better suited to consulting work while others are better suited to internal roles.
In many roles, re-inventing yourself presents significant risks and could set you back both professionally and financially – is it any surprise that the profession that implements change can also benefit from it the most?