How to excel as a project management professional

by | Mar 1, 2022

The most talented project management professionals embrace a team-player mentality and recognize the value of diversifying their skills as expert communicators and strategic thinkers. The best project managers utilize robust educational platforms and technologies to build their careers in today’s modern workplace. After all, pathways to future opportunities become limited without the proper credentials, and it may be more challenging to make informed decisions that best fit your goals.  

Whether you’re an entry-level project management professional, a mid-level manager, or a senior leader, there’s always an opportunity to evaluate your skills and improve your processes through education.  

Treat your career as a project  

Your career, like every project, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This includes climbing the corporate ladder and achieving your next promotion. Be clear about the goals you want to achieve, identify which milestones you’ll need to accomplish and invest in education that will expand your existing skillset and offer valuable credentials to your team leader or company stakeholders. To make this process a more tangible experience:  

  1. Take the time to do your homework. Grab a pen and paper or open your laptop. Answer the following questions:  
  • What is the promotion I am looking for? Are you a project coordinator looking to step into a project manager role? Are you a project manager looking to be assigned more projects? Whatever it is, be specific.   
  • What does my company require of me to be promoted to this position? 
  • What did the journey look like for other coworkers promoted to this position?  
  • What stage am I at skill-wise? 

2. Break it down. Once you have your answers, break them up into milestones. For example: You’re a self-taught project coordinator, and to be promoted, you need to learn more about project management methodologies. After doing some research, you decide to enroll in a certificate program. To stay on track, you create a timeline including all the milestones you need to check off to achieve your career goal and stick to it.

Milestone checklist

Fortify your foundation of skills as project management professional   

While specific schooling or certificates are not often a requirement for project managers, candidates with a diverse mix of credentials have a stronger arsenal of skills. They will find it easier to excel within their current team or pursue a new role with a leading enterprise company. The importance is to assemble and maintain a strong foundation of skills that can support the career you want to build for yourself.   

A robust skillset makes it easier to market yourself as a qualified project manager and advance your current role, title, and associated responsibilities.  

Assess your experience as a leader  

As a project manager, there will come a time when you need to lead or oversee a team of peers or junior associates. Without a qualified leader, a project can quickly become an unpleasant experience for everyone involved, which has a trickle-down effect on the quality of work produced, meeting required deadlines, and client satisfaction.  

The most successful project managers recognize that leadership is more than simply calling the shots. There must be a thoughtful balance of asserting your authority and embracing your role as the supporting pillar of your team. In practice, this requires frequent and transparent communication, confident decision-making, a calm disposition, a positive attitude, and interpreting a challenge as a speed bump to roll past versus a roadblock with no solution.  

It’s also important to remain open to receiving constructive feedback. At times, you may not be aware of how your style of communication, management, or delegation affects the associates you work with. By remaining open to feedback, you’ll quickly strengthen your skills as a collaborator and improve the experience of your team and your coworkers.  

Protip: If you have little leadership experience under your belt, volunteer to own an upcoming project. Design an upcoming project plan, keep the team on track and ask for feedback from your supervisor throughout the process. To score that promotion, you need to be vocal and show your supervisors that you can bring a project from conception to completion.   

Are you looking to advance your career as a project management professional? Pathstream can help you prepare for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® Exam and become a competitive applicant for thousands of project management jobs. Learn more about the Asana Project Management Certificate Program

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