On this New Years Eve-My Five Favorite Project Manager's say

Dear Blog Readers,

I present before you five Project Managers who have shared their invaluable knowledge here this New Years eve about what aspiring Project Managers should do.

There’s a reason why I decided to ask these Project Managers for their advice. Each of them individually have helped me groom,  inspired to become a Project Manager and opened doors I would have otherwise not known.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome-

I) Alec Satin (read his blog here)

I met him through my blog. When I first started writing my blog, I remember Alec being the first of the few to leave a comment saying, if I had any questions about CAPM, I could ask him. I had just started writing (this blog) and it was a nice surprise to have a real Project Manager commenting. It made my day!

I didn’t ask him any questions about the exam but I surely started reading his blog. Alec sent me good wishes and  tips the day before I appeared for my CAPM. I thought he was really kind and nice to inspire someone like me, who he didn’t know personally and was rather new to the industry.

I learnt from Alec to inspire others, help when I can and be a Project Manager who is also  a good human being. Thank you Alec for being such a inspiration.

Alec says-

So you're an aspiring project manager?  How fortunate you are to be part of such a varied, exciting and potentially meaningful career.  The best project managers truly make things happen for the benefit of their customers, team members and companies.  The skills of a good PM will always be in demand.

As a project manager, one of your most important projects is your own continuing development.  This project will always present you with an abundance of tasks on which to focus.  Here are three which have great potential to increase your competency and satisfaction no matter what your current experience level may be.

1.  Devote at least as much attention to Stakeholder Management as you do to Project Deliverables.  

Stakeholder management refers to the effort you expend on identifying the people your project impacts, developing productive two-way relationships with them, and maintaining the proper level of communication with them over the whole course of the project.  Communication is the art of listening, identifying areas of divergent understanding, and bringing any such items out into the open so that they can be resolved.

It's very easy to get in the habit of focusing on your deliverables to the exclusion of all else.  Beware this trap!

The better you manage your stakeholder relationships, the more successful your project will be.  

To learn more:

·  Post: Pleasing Stakeholders Linkfest: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

·  Chapter: Stakeholder management in James Brown's Handbook of program management

2.  Develop strong relationships with other Project Managers

As a project manager, your time is one of your most valuable possessions.  If you get in the habit of making time to spend with colleagues, you will find that your efficiency, productivity, and enjoyment of your career will be greater than it would be otherwise.

·  Develop relationships with people outside of your current company whenever possible.

·  Start a "brown bag" or information sharing series with other PMs at your company.

·  Volunteer to mentor new people at your firm.

Aim to meet for coffee at least every six weeks or so with the 4 or 5 other project managers you wish to develop long term relationships with.  Contact them through IM or email at least every few weeks.  This will ensure that you will be there for them, and they will be there for you when a project management or career question arises.

Like most things that are worthwhile in life, the true value of this habit takes years to reveal itself.  Start now.

To learn more:

·  Chapter:  Fundamental #5 - Invest in relationships in Stuart Levine's The Six fundamentals of success: The rules for getting it right for yourself and your organization

·  Chapter:  Real magic and your relationships in Wayne Dyer's Real magic: Creating miracles in everyday life

3.  Keep learning

Think about committing yourself to personal development.  Identify your areas of strength and opportunities for growth.  If you are stronger in the area of technology than in people skills, consider putting twice as much effort into your development of "soft skills".  One way to do this is to commit yourself to reading 5 pages a day "more days than not" in the area of personal development.  

If you identify a need to learn more about the tool of Visio, and also about effective listening, you might choose to work through Crucial Conversations first, then The Visio 2003 Bible, and then Yes! 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive.  Even though it seems like 5 pages a day is not much - over the months and years you will put yourself light years ahead of most other project managers in terms of your knowledge and skill.

To learn more:

·  Book:  Robert Cialdini's Yes! 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive

·  Book:  Kerry Patterson's Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high

Welcome to the profession of project management.  You're very much needed.  We're glad you're here.  

II) Baas De Baar (read his blog here)

I started reading his blog long ago and have learnt much through his writings. My communication with Baas started through Twitter and thought he adding me to his list of “follows” was an honor and more so to know he read my blog. 

He was the first to agree to do the post, an assurance that I really needed. I was rather nervous to ask these 5 PM’s and questioned myself that perhaps it was a hasty decision that was better avoided. 

Baas I can’t thank you enough.

Bas says-

I have not 3 pointers but my general advice to aspiring PMs would be:

- Work on a real project first (as developer, tester, everything but a PM);
- Get a certification,  or follow some formal training. Good for you resume and you probably learn a few tricks.
- Don't take formal training too serious. It is just ONE way of doing things, there are many, many more.
- Get on the Internet and start conversing. Start a blog, join a community and join the conversation.
- Always, ALWAYS remember: projects are about people. Never forget you are dealing with other human beings.


III) Elizabeth Harrin (read her blog here)

I took my first steps into Project Management with her…..well, with her blog actually. I can’t remember how I found her blog, but I sure read it everyday at lunch. Every single day. I loved the fluidity of her language, the easiness with which she wrote about Project Management and somewhere down the line, I simply got interested in the profession. I researched about being a PM and if it was something I could do. 

I wanted to commit to myself and clarify my own thoughts about wanting to become a Project Manager, so I started this blog. Then one fine afternoon at lunch as I’m reading her blog- I suddenly realize I'm reading her posting about my site. I freeze and then re-read. It was the moment and I've never looked back. I knew there would be more visitors to my site and perhaps I should start writing seriously. 

Elizabeth has rather unknowingly been one of the most important factors in deciding my course as an aspiring Project Manager. Thank you forever. 

Elizabeth says- 

I'm not sure I can come up with three must dos.  To grow as a professional I would say network, learn as much as you can, and gain technical proficiency through experience and qualifications. 

You don't actually have to have the qualification; you just have to understand the theory of, say, PMBOK.


IV) Josh Nankivel (read his blog here)

I had heard a lot about pmstudent and then I found one day that Josh had emailed me, asking me if I would like to blog for pmstudent. I didn’t have to think on this one, sure I wanted to, who wouldn’t.

I think the best part about Josh was that he started with a PM degree and then got the PMP certification, so I asked him if he could elaborate in the post on how he prepared himself for the job.

Thank you Josh for giving me the chance to be associated with pmstudent.

Josh says-

First, some background.  I spent many years as a manager and developer until I discovered my true passion for something called project management in 2004.  I had been doing much of it for a long time without knowing there was a formal discipline for it.

  • 2004, spring - started learning about project management and moving my career in the direction of a professional project manager
  • 2005, spring - started night classes full time (12-16 credits/quarter) at a local tech college for a BS in Project Management, worked during the day full-time and started applying educational concepts in my day job work on and managing projects
  • 2006, winter - started pmStudent.com to focus my ability to apply my education to my projects at work
  • 2008, spring - graduated with a BS in Project Management
  • 2008, Nov 29 - passed the PMP exam

Now, for my "3 things aspiring PM's should do"

  • Go get some experience - At work, talk to project managers and volunteer to help out.  Or, you can volunteer for PM and other organizations where you may get the chance to work with experienced project managers.  Learn from the people who have been doing it already!
  • Go get some education - While formal education like the BS degree I went after is great, it is a massive investment.  I highly recommend it, but it may not be for everyone.  You can also get a lot of education by reading articles, blogs, books, doing training courses, etc.
  • Go write about project management - The great thing about web 2.0 is that anyone can put content out on the internet.  My personal experiences with blogging have been a tremendous boon to my evolution as a project manager.  By blogging, you can get feedback from others, clarify your own thoughts, and explore ideas through writing that are difficult to formulate all in your head.  You can sign up today at pmStudent.com and start blogging immediately, getting your posts out to an established readership without having to go through the hassle of setting up your own blog.


V) Raven Young (read her blog here)

 I really wanted to have 5 Project Managers for this special post. I read about her blog and her posts almost everywhere and yet somehow I never had the chance to read her blog. So, I asked Alec and Elizabeth if they knew anyone I could request to be part of this posting and surprisingly both of them mentioned Raven.

 I emailed her, it was awkward because one I didn’t know her and two the first things I say is I am doing a post and would you be kind enough and have the time to be part of this. I didn’t receive her reply for a couple of days and it made me more nervous, thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t have emailed. She replied back and to my greatest surprise agreed to do the post and couple of emails later I’m thankful that I had the chance to know her through my blog.

Thank you Raven for doing this, it was a complete surprise. 

Raven says- 

Communication - Communication is the biggest part of the job - and that isn't referring to simply "talking". A project manager is talking, listening, reading, writing, watching, presenting, coaching, negotiating, collaborating, speaking, mentoring, absorbing, etc. throughout the day - that's our job as a project or program manager. These skills make up the "communication essentials" piece that is vital to our roles as PMs. I highly recommend beefing up on the entire communication arena as it involves so much more than mentioned here. One article to get you started can be found here {LINK http://www.ravensbrain.com/2008/09/13-communication-tips-for-improved.html}

The Team Is Key- Your project team is the key to your success--you cannot complete the project without them. Take care in communicating with them effectively, and establishing a communication plan from the beginning of the project. Treat the people on your project team with respect, give them room to grow as individuals and as a team, and always be there to support them as needed. Be swift and judicious in communicating project issues and changes--think quick and concise as a lot of content flies around and the project team doesn't need to be bombarded with the tons of reports you get, usually the condensed version will do. Remember the project team is made up of living, breathing people and they want to be kept in the loop too, but not so overloaded that they can't do their own job!

Develop Yourself - If you think your job is done when you put in an 8 hour day, it's time to look for another career now. Project management is more than a full-time battle...and half the battle is finding ways NOT to let the field take over your life. Set aside time each week to pause, reflect and grow. Read a few chapters of a professional development book on project leadership, effective communication or how to negotiate better; browse a few blog posts on innovative ways to be more productive in meetings; subscribe to project management podcasts and listen while you walk at lunch or on the drive home. There are many ways to develop yourself, so plan for alone time, and move yourself forward in your career. Most importantly - never stop learning! I could read a book a week for the rest of my life and still learn something new every day. Now how fun is that??

I hope we all take the lessons home and start the New Year with the right knowledge and determination.Bold

Happy New Year everyone! All the best for 2009.

(Picture: Google Images)



Bas said...

Thanks for having me in this post. I wish you (and your blog) a very good 2009!

Just keep on writing.


Raven Young said...

Soma - Excellent insights from a great set of experts, of course I don't include myself in the mix!

I agree with Bas - keep on writing, it's one of the best ways to flex your mental muscles.



Anonymous said...

Hi Soma,

Bas and Raven got it right - just keep writing.

It's a pleasure to learn from you and these others. One of my first managers said something that deeply impacted me: "I always surround myself with people who are smarter and more talented. This way, they pull me up to their level."

I still keep trying to follow his great example.

Be well, Soma!