I came to a realization this week that I have been “bad mouthing” my profession. Much of what I’ve been writing lately about project management has focused on the negative stuff, the dark under-belly of the profession known only by battle hardened veterans who live to tell the tales. Actually, it’s been kind of fun to write about the bad stuff like: project politics, cranky sponsors, distracted team members, conniving stakeholders, and poorly written business cases. Some readers have thanked me for the “tough love” approach that they feel I bring. Others have asked if I am looking to scare people away from entering the field. One reader keeps calling me “snarky,” which is a term I’d like to see expunged from the English language. My intent is not to be tough or scary, and certainly never “snarky.” Rather, I have been looking for a voice that readers find interesting, informative and a little provoking.
Read my post on the dark-side of Project Management titled, “The 7 Things They Don’t Teach You in Project Management School,” by clicking here.
So this post is going to be different. I want to talk about the great things there are in being a project manager; the reasons why you want to enter this field. If you’re lucky enough to be in this profession, then this will have a familiar ring. If you’re not, then maybe you should give it try and see for yourself.
The 6 things to LOVE about being a project manager are:
- You are always learning. No two projects are the same. Depending on your skills, you might work on a business change project one day and an ERP implementation the next. Each project has its own set of challenges, which forces you to constantly change and make adjustments to your approach. Plus, you are learning about more than just structure and processes – sometimes, you get to learn about cool stuff like: technology, new markets, products, services and customers. A project manager’s world is ever changing, growing and evolving – it’s a great ride!
- Work with all sorts of interesting people. You might have a small project with a team from your office, or a larger global project with your team dispersed across the world. In either case, you are working to complete something with others. It’s like group time back in grade school. Instead of sitting there studying hour after hour by yourself – you get to interact with others, and if you do it right, the collaborative effort can lead to the creation of something better than what you could produce by yourself. Plus, you get to meet some really smart people who bring different perspectives and experiences to your project. I love the diversity of working with a global team – it brings out the best in me. If you like working with others to create something new, then project work might be for you.
- Be a mini CEO. I’ve always thought that project management work is a great training ground for future CEO’s. You see, project managers have a lot of responsibilities, face all sorts of pressure, and have to work with a wide variety of stakeholders and customers. Plus, they have to deliver promised results within a defined set of financial projections. Wow, a project manager faces most of the same issues as a CEO – but, of course, on a smaller scale and with less pay.
- There is never a dull moment. The ever changing nature of project work is always challenging. A project manager usually has dozens of daily issues and tasks to follow, multiple team members to interact with, a presentation or two (or more) each week to give to sponsors, stakeholders or customers, and a hundred other worries to resolve. There is usually not a lot of free time to kick-back and reflect on what you are doing. This type of constant activity is not for everyone, but if repetitive, mundane, procedure driven work seems boring to you, then maybe you should try project management.
- You get to interface with Customers. Don’t believe what your sales people say – working directly with customers and helping find solutions that make them happy is great fun. Sure some can be demanding, unpredictable and a little crazy at times, but there is nothing better then being able to create a new solution that satisfies or delights a paying customer. It’s the magic of business – finding solutions that make you and your company money is the ultimate motivator.
- Receive recognition. I started my career in Operations Management. It was good work and I met some really smart people. At the end of day, if everything worked and there were no glitches, you got a pat on the head and told that you were doing your job. It was simply hard to exceed expectations or get recognition. Project managers’ that deliver initiatives on-time, on-budget, and within scope (let’s not forget quality also) get celebratory parties, senior management accolades, press conferences, speaking engagements – all sorts of positive PR. Actually, they are just doing their job, but because they create something new, or something better, the perceived value to an organization is extreme.
So, for all you newbies out there, did I paint a picture of a career you might find interesting? For you battled hardened project veterans, have I done justice to our beloved profession? Project management work is interesting, challenging and always changing. It might not be for everyone, but I think most will benefit from the discipline, learning and relationship building that is inherent to the profession.
Project management is a great way to learn about business, people and technology. But, mostly you get to learn about yourself (written without an ounce of snark!).
What do you love about project management? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Read my award winning post, “The 7 Things They Don’t Teach You in Project Management School,” by clicking here
Very nice article Dale, I am completely agreed.
I think many project managers will agree on the one that states “There is never a dull moment”, but will disagree with all the rest of your points – especially the last one.
PM Hut – well at least we agree on one item! The recognition part is not experienced by all – but, by many. My experience is that PM’s who consistently deliver get recognition that is more than that of a solid line manager. Maybe this is just in my work environment. Thanks for reading – my next post I will shoot to agree with you on 2 items (or more)! DM
I enjoyed reading your article and found your points to relevant from my perspective. As you noted in your closing paragraph, being a newbie, I do see the PM picture as being just the way you painted it from your experience. Personally I enjoy the challenges of change and look forward to working as a Project Management Professional.
Thanks for sharing Dale.
Thank you for commenting Rudy. I wish you all the best in the future. DM
great article Dale, there is great satisfaction in seeing a project go from start to completion, although its very rare to have them completed together on time, under budget & with quality.
Rob – the ability to pull a project together, align the resources, and manage it from start to finish (successfully) is very special. There are not many other jobs where you see everything – from start to end. Thank you for reading and commenting. DM
Agree with you Rob – but that’s the opportunity for the ‘best’ PMs show what they’re really made of! Time to communicate the hard stuff with the decision makers, get tough and most importantly learn the lessons! The best results, in my experience, are when you are faced with potential failure, and you pull it back – not always possible, but make certain you know why this is the case and get it right the next time. Not sure I agree with the accolades though – maybe I’m just too shy for the limelight!
Thank you for reading and commenting. Communication and the ability to objectively evaluate what is working (and why), and what is not – are two of the main keys for being a successful project manager. The limelight is something for the project manager and the team to share – focus on doing things well and the recognition will come. Thanks again. DM
Great article Dale and positively sells the project managers job!! thanks for sharing.
Thank you Marian for reading and commenting. DM
Nourishing article of indeed to those passionate about project management
Thanks for sharing Dale. My favorite aspect of being a PM is being able to touch a project through it’s entire lifecycle, including new projects spawned from the success of previous projects.
Thank you Amanda. The end-to-end aspect of Project Leadership is something many enjoy. You sort of get to see the idea as an infant, see it grown, nourish it, and in the end see it deliver. When managing a “day-t0-day” operation you only get to see your one segment (or silo) of work – you do not see the whole cycle. Thanks for making this excellent point.
thanks to share wiith us your standpoint Dale…one of the things I love from the PM’s profile is regarding your first point.. always learning,, kaizen…=)
Great to remember the positives! We normally forget them with day to day demands, and stress 😉
Dale great article as always. I think the best part about being a PM for me is that it allows me to utilize my analytical, communication and leadership skills and drive teams to deliver a critical objective for an organization.
I am given the opportunity to foster a positive environment where people are motivated to come to work, give 100 percent for a short term and learn from it. The team members can then move on to greener pastures with more experience under their belt without becoming stagnant in a non-projectized (Operations as you mention) environment.
This eventually leads to career growth for most team members and provides me a deep sense of satisfaction that I had the chance to work and connect with some very talented and hard-working people…
Thanks, Mark. It seems so simple – if we take smart people and we enable them to use their skills, provide a good work environment, foster a positive team experience, and help them grow – then they are happy (and productive)! It’s the classic win-win. The model seems easy and replicateable – yet, so often I see the opposite being done. Anyway, thanks for reading, Mark. Have a great weekend!
Great to focus on the positives, a nice way to end the week! Maybe I’m lucky in my organisation, but I agree with all these points. It may seemed like a cliché, but to quote Hannibal Smith: “I love it when a plan comes together!” – there’s nothing quite like orchestrating a group of professionals into becoming a team and then watching them produce great work and the subsequent results (eg delighted client, innovative product, business transformation etc).
Thank you, Josh. I think you’ve written something very powerful in, “orchestrating a group.” This is often how I describe the role of a project manager: as a conductor, or maybe even a maestro. Organizing the individual talents of a group in way that benefits the “collective”, is what it’s all about. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment. I hope to hear from you again soon! DM
Reblogged this on Dale Myers' Blog: Think. Plan. Act. Repeat. and commented:
For Valentine’s Day I want to show my profession a little LOVE! Enjoy.
Great Article ! Sometimes PMs are regarded as turnaround artists saving the organisation from difficult or troubled situations ! 😉
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