Top Tips to Get into Project Management

“What advice would you give to project management students who are just starting out in the discipline?”
Geoff Crane asked me and other project managers the same question so he could compile his top tips for his students. It was difficult for me to come up with tips, as there were so many things I could share with new project managers. This is what I came up short of space constraints.
Project managers who are new should demonstrate that they are flexible, willing and able to give their time and listen to their team members. You don’t need to have any experience in project management. Instead, you can find other ways to contribute.
In one of my first projects, I didn’t know how to identify a stakeholder group. I didn’t even talk to them. Then, on go live day, I called the head of the department to ask what had happened and why her team was so overwhelmed with work. Communicate more than what you think you need to. Extra stakeholders will appear when you least expect them. This doesn’t necessarily mean sending out mass emails to all employees. It means targeted, relevant communication to specific stakeholders. But lots of it. Call people, stop by their offices and invite them for lunch or coffee. People worry about not knowing the details, especially when they are involved in large projects. It is your job to stop this.
Another rule of project management is to protect your project team members from politics and grief, so they can do their jobs. If you feel it helps, take responsibility for the problems. It is a great way for people to diffuse tension and move on to constructive problem solving. It’s very difficult for someone to continue shouting at you after you have apologized.
Don’t forget to remember that you are also a stakeholder in the project. You should always get something from a project in terms career development, even if it’s just another 6 month working in an area that you love.
Geoff created a complete ebook. It’s available for download here. It’s a PDF file (no sign-up required).