By Adrian Johansen
Being a project manager sounds like you have one job, but any PM knows that the truth is it’s several jobs rolled into one. Keeping a project on time and budget requires everything from smoothing over interpersonal conflict to presenting project results to upper management.
There are a lot of skills you need for short-term success in any particular project. But what are some project management skills that will help you grow in the long term and benefit your career the most?
Here are a few to focus on.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is about perceiving, identifying, and managing emotions — in yourself and others. As with any other skill, practice makes perfect, although you may already have some innate ability.
Any project you work on will have conflicting personalities and require you to motivate your team. Emotional intelligence will help you do that, but it will also help you excel in a variety of other PM tasks.
When you can read non-verbal signals and know how someone is likely feeling, you can measure your communication with them accordingly. This helps with both your project team and the stakeholders you share information with. Being able to manage your own emotions is also helpful, especially in a high-stress environment.
Emotional intelligence can help you be successful over the long term with your career in project management and assist you in the short term with each project.
Learning From Failure
Not every project will be a win, and projects can fail for a variety of reasons. Learning lessons from each failure is essential if you want to grow in your career long-term.
Failure is extremely unpleasant, and in some cases, you might wonder if you’re even cut out to be a project manager. However, it’s important to remember that everyone fails sometimes, no matter how good they are at their job.
Processing the failure and learning how to do better next time will help you grow and become better in your career. Assess the performance of your team and see what went well and what went poorly. Knowing both the good and bad can help you repeat what went right while avoiding errors.
Learn to Manage Remote Work
Today’s work teams are increasingly remote, especially as COVID-19 continues to affect the world. What began as a short-term experiment in 2020 has become a long-term work arrangement for many organizations.
How can you manage remote work teams? It’s not easy. Setting clear expectations and maintaining excellent communication are essential. You will also want to develop strategies for remote strategic planning.
Having focused meetings is a challenge, especially when your team works from home and meets through video conferencing. Make sure to set a clear agenda and stick to it while keeping meeting lengths manageable.
Finally, set actionable steps for each team member after the meeting ends and follow up to ensure they happen. A project management tool can help everyone stay on track and show each team member’s progress on deliverables.
When you can manage a remote team, you’ve developed a long-term skill that will serve you well throughout your entire career.
Tie Your Project Into the Community
It can be easy in any organization to get tunnel vision and think only about how your work impacts the company or your client. However, you can have significantly more impact when your projects include and engage your local community.
A project that benefits your company is great. Still, you can sell the investment even more easily when you show stakeholders that the business will gain a stronger reputation and have access to earned media coverage when the project is successful.
Every organization can benefit from connecting more closely with its community. Support other businesses via sub-contracting. Provide tours of your site to the public. Learn to include crowdsourcing, community benefits, and local citizen participation in your projects. Not only will your proposals be approved more quickly, but you’ll become an in-demand professional.
Work on Agile Project Management
Traditional project management focuses on creating a single large deliverable at the end of the process. However, agile project management is increasingly taking the place of this approach. When you learn how to approach projects from an agile perspective, you’ll create better results and prepare your career for the future.
Agile project management focuses on creating small deliverables over the life of the project, getting feedback on them, and then coming back and making the next deliverable better. To be successful with this approach, you’ll need to track new metrics and teach your team to respond well to constructive feedback.
Managing team morale is essential for all kinds of projects but is especially vital in an agile framework. Ensure that you see your team’s productivity as part of the process that can be tested, evaluated, and improved.
Build Your Career With Long-Term Skills
You can always use best practices on any particular project, and some of those will become part of your long-term toolkit. However, by focusing specifically on the five long-term skills we’ve mentioned, you’ll become a better project manager overall.
Building your career in the long term is a project in itself. Make sure you give your personal success the same focus and care that you give your projects. You’re worth it!