The reality is that while ticking the boxes on the job description might get you a job as a project manager, when you’re in the job it’s suddenly very different.
Project work is not routine
Projects are non-routine work, and non-routine work involves people having to think. You won’t see ‘thinking’ on any job description, but it’s what you are paid to do for a large portion of your time at work.
When you start work on a project there’s the thinking that comes with project initiation. There are some technical project management skills that we all have to have to do a good job. But a good project manager needs to go beyond that, and spend time thinking about how to get things done through other people. That requires leadership - and that’s a skill that might appear on your job description. What will be missing from that dusty document is that getting things done through others means trusting the people on your project team to do the right thing.
You won’t find ‘trusting’ on any job descriptions either.
Working beyond the job description
So if a project manager has to go beyond the job description to get things done, what is their role in business and how do we describe the critical function that they play in delivering business results?
Look through the recruitment pages of any newspaper or search online and you’ll find a huge variety of requirements (and titles) for people doing project work. There will be qualifications, soft skills and the ability to use specific software tools. You’ll see the need to travel, or be home-based, or work with third parties. Recruiters look for people who can work as a team, independently, with end users and Board members.
But what they are really saying is that they are looking for someone who can get things done.
That’s a very short job description.
Let’s celebrate the doers!
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