Are you considering project management as a career? There are many project management training courses available to help you kick-start your career in this area and more recently there are now opportunities to begin your career via a higher apprenticeship in project management. However, you may be wondering if you have what it takes to become a project manager. A lot of project management skills and attributes can be self-taught, but only you know whether you have the ability to take on this role and excel in it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what it takes to become a project manager so you can determine whether this is the right career choice for you.
Are you comfortable dealing with individuals at all organisational levels?
As a project manager, you are going to be dealing with people at all levels who are performing activities related to the project, from support staff to upper management.
Do you work well in a crisis?
All project managers need to have a cool head, especially when they have a crisis on their hands. There could be times when your project seems to be sinking quickly – you could be massively behind on a deadline, with costs mounting rapidly, and stakeholders expressing their dissatisfaction. You cannot flap; you need to come up with an effective solution, and you need to do so quickly.
Do you prefer to work on something that is changing all of the time or do you like your work environment to be predictable?
If you are someone that likes to go to work every day knowing exactly what they are going to be doing with no unexpected surprises, you will struggle as a project manager. This is because unexpected situations and problems arise all of the time, and it is your duty to minimise their impact.
When it comes to a tough task, would you rather just do it yourself?
Having confidence in your abilities is of paramount importance for any project manager. However, you are supposed to encourage teamwork – not simply take on tasks yourself if you want to become a project manager and be successful in the role.
Do you prefer doing technical work yourself or managing others doing it?
A lot of project managers work their way up and end up in the position because they have performed well in technical tasks before. Nevertheless, once you cement your position as a project manager, you won’t be doing these tasks yourself anymore. Instead, it will be your job to encourage others to produce the standard of work you are capable of.
Are you someone who is more concerned with getting the job done right or do you want to be everyone’s friend?
It is all about getting the balance right as a project manager. You need to maintain good working relationships to ensure the morale of the team is right – this does not mean being everyone’s best mate, however. There are going to be times when you need to make decisions for the good of the project, and these are going to be decisions that not everyone is going to be comfortable with.
It is important to be honest with yourself when answering the above questions. If so, you should have a pretty good idea as to whether you’d be a great project manager.
3 Comments Leave a comment
You have done a decent work in the post. I must say, crisis and stakeholder management are the essential skills without which a project manager can’t survive. As project management is dynamic, a professional needs to be receptive about the changes. You have talked about becoming the friend thing, which I liked the most. A project manager shouldn’t be biased and must work towards creating balance in the team. I think more skills can be added here. Would be great if you consider networking, negotiation, emotional intelligence and delegation skills whenever you go for a revision. Keep up the great work.
Thanks for commenting David – you’re right, of course, that there are many more skills required for a top performing project manager. I have covered more of these in the posts Project Management Skills and Qualities All Project Managers Should Develop and there’s also a, perhaps unrealistic, look at the same topic in 101 Characteristics of a Project Manager
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