Those new to project management often worry about which qualifications to seek; which will give them the best opportunity to develop their career or the widest choice of possible industries or the best credentials for working in international organisations, or whatever else is important to them in their careers.
But no single project management approach will ever be the right solution for all projects because all projects are different, corporations are different and people are different. So if you are looking at ways to improve your success as a project manager and, of course, your career prospects, then perhaps a more important question than which qualifications to gain is how to develop the personal skills that will have just as great an impact on project outcomes as the method of project management.
There are plenty of debates on-going about the advantages and disadvantages of the different PM methodologies and even more debate about the benefits of "traditional" or "agile" approaches. But let's focus here on other skill sets that are just as important to a project manager, and I don't just mean soft skills.
There are a whole range of behaviours and skills that may not come naturally to everyone but can have an impact on project outcomes; it isn't always easy to change our natural behaviour in certain situations but new ways of behaving can be learnt just as new technical skills can be learnt.
For instance, how do you react to criticism, conflict or setbacks?
If the project is criticised by senior management do you respond to remove or fix the problem just to appease senior management without looking at the wider impact on the project or the team? Or do you take a broad view and make a decision based on the good of the project overall and, of course, influence those who have levied the criticism to see your viewpoint?
If there is conflict within the team it will affect the project negatively just as surely as missing a deadline or running over budget and yet some project managers choose to ignore any conflict. Tackling conflict head-on is not easy but ultimately will lead to a better outcome for both the project and the people involved; after all who wants to work in a team, or on a project, with underlying tensions?
And what about your reaction to setbacks? A critical deadline missed, a key team member resigning. You could make everyone work extra hours to catch up (good luck with that), or rush into promoting or employing someone else to fill a gap, but a calm, measured take on the situation is likely to deliver better results; rushed decisions under pressure are frequently bad decisions.
When we talk about a project manager's toolbox we should be thinking of methods, software, soft skills and other competencies such as behaviours and attitudes.
So choose which method to follow carefully but don't neglect the competencies that must be developed to become a successful, well-rounded project manager.
Other blogs in this series:
- Project management – an introduction
- Project management processes and phases
- Business requirements and project managers
- People and behaviours in project management
- Using a Gantt Chart to manage a project schedule
- The basics of an effective project plan
This is a project management fundamentals blog written and sponsored by Parallel Project Training. For more about our project management training courses visit our website or visit Paul Naybour on Google+.