Four Things You Need to Know
Before You Study Project Management
Whether you have targeted project management as your chosen career, or you are drifting into it because you’ve been told you have what it takes to be a good project manager, you need to be fully ready for what project management entails.
You are probably a good, motivated team player, a good communicator and organiser and these qualities will stand you in good stead.
There are many advantages to gaining a project management qualification, for example better job opportunities and salary, as well as increased efficiency and productivity for your business or company.
Your first step will be to enrol on a course and there are some excellent project management courses that show you how to create and implement a project plan.
However, there are some things you need to know before you embark on your study course.
Is Project Management Right for You?
First, know and understand your skills and limitations.
Write down lists detailing your work skills, experience and personal qualities.
If you are confident that you’ve got what it takes to be a project manager, go ahead and make sure that the course you choose offers a relevant qualification, one that you can take with you into different sectors, maybe even into different countries.
One thing that is important to remember when choosing project management is that there will always be a requirement for competent candidates, in any country in the world.
Choosing project management as a career will give you the freedom and flexibility to be able to work anywhere, and in any industry.
What Skills Will You Need to be a Successful Project Manager?
Delegation is not simply handing out jobs to colleagues.
The skill lies in understanding how to achieve the best result and that means having confidence in your colleague’s abilities and, essentially, having confidence in your own ability to communicate your expectations.
A skilled and knowledgeable delegator is the one who will become a good and respected manager. Similarly, you will need to be the kind of person who is wise enough to know when a staff member or colleague is not right for the job, and confident enough to be able to fire them. Firing someone, or removing them from your team, is a skill that requires diplomacy, decisiveness and the ability to know when keeping a person in a job is counter-productive for them and the project.
Putting Together The Right Team
Team selection is a skill rarely taught in a college class and is not something that a project manager will automatically know about.
It is all about recognising who the smartest, most inventive people are and not necessarily about working your selection using a flowchart or recruitment manual.
Communication skills are paramount when working in project management.
If you can communicate well at every level, from floor staff and contractors to directors and company owners, you’re well on the way to getting the best out of your team.
What Will a Project Management Role Entail?
Do some research beforehand, for example by using the Internet and social media.
Read blogs and study Twitter. There are a surprising number of project management blogs and articles that are a massive source of free information and advice about what a project management role entails, and there are many sources of information that are niche related. If, for example, you’re looking for construction project management work, then you’ll find the role entirely different to a project management role for a large retailer.
LinkedIn is also a great way to communicate with project management professionals, and building up a network of mentors and advice-givers is a wonderful way to get a feel for what you want to do. Join groups on LinkedIn to interact, ask questions and do a little more study on the role.
Even better, if you know someone who is already a project manager, talk to them and ask questions. Ask them how and why they got into project management and ask them what it is all about. Knowing all you can about your chosen role, both the good and the bad, will prepare you for the role.
Do You Have What it Takes?
When choosing a role it’s essential to take a look at the qualities you have and whether they will fit well in your chosen role.
Pin yourself down. Take a good look at yourself and ask these questions:
Are you an organised and responsible team leader capable of taking tough decisions when necessary?
Can you respond to change if priorities shift and new decisions have to be made?
If you’re not sure, then ask someone who knows you well to comment on whether you have the qualities needed to be a successful project manager.
If you find any gaps in your knowledge, or the person you’re asking isn’t sure you’re confident enough, or have the required communication skills, then don’t write project management off if your heart is set on it. Instead, look for short courses to build on your skills and you’ll be better equipped to take on a project management role.
The study itself will be involved and varied, and you will be required to complete some parts of the process yourself, whilst other tasks may be collaborative, so you will also need to be comfortable working on your own and as part of a team.
You’ll cover topics such as risk management, and project planning and scoping, which may be completely alien to you at first but, with a little effort and the right course, will soon become second nature. Having the tenacity to keep going through the tougher parts of the course will ultimately lead to a well-rounded knowledge of project management techniques.
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About the Author:
Helen is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has worked with some of the leading names in the Australian university and TAFE sectors across her extensive career in the education industry.
She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas.
Helen also works with a select group of organizations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change.