Tag: Career

PMTimes_Dec20_2022

Best of: 5 Unique Experiences a Project Manager Should Include on a CV

Recruitment for project management jobs can be ruthless and fast-paced. Experts say you have 6 seconds to make a great first impression before your CV lands squarely in the rejection pile. In this case, well-established experience, a diverse skill set and unique character will set you apart. But how can all this be communicated quickly on a piece of paper?

 

The best way to stand out from the masses is to look beyond standard experiences that decorate the resumes of every other management candidate. Hundreds of professionals have earned a degree in business, but employable attributes can come from many experiences. A skill-based hobby, extra study or work abroad are a great addition. The best CV examples will incorporate experiences that are unique to the applicant in order to land that dream job.

Extra Study

Adult education is an important part of professional growth for every employee. Additional study, whether undertaken in the form of an online course or workshop, compliments your skill set and can give your resume great curb appeal.

Related Article: Attributes of an Exceptional Project Manager

As a project manager, it is necessary for you to actively demonstrate an ability to learn new ideas quickly and process information efficiently. These attributes can be cultivated in the classroom. A Diploma of Project Management that sits alongside additional training in an Agile Management will greatly increase your appeal to employers.

A great CV will need to go beyond simply listing the course title and date, and provide a clear outline of the tangible abilities learnt and how these are applicable to the role of project manager.

 

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Travel Abroad

Working abroad can be an incredible experience to include on your application. It is a unique opportunity that will not only add interest to your CV but indicates your good character to recruiters. Travelling requires maturity, adaptation, and responsibility – all attributes of a leading project manager.

Your travel adventures are a great way to display your personality during an interview. Sharing some of the exciting moments and achievements with a potential employer will set you up as a professional who is relatable and most importantly, open-minded.

It is no secret that most international work opportunities involve rigorous selection, making it an inspiring milestone to be included on the CV of every professional.

 

Volunteer Work

Your leisure time is valuable and using this to support a not-for-profit activity signposts excellent moral fibre. It suggests to a recruiter right off the bat that you can recognise and respond to your values and are loyal to more than just the highest dollar. An employee that has genuine care for their work is an invaluable asset to a business.

Exemplary managers will lead their team with complete dedication and careful attention to detail. This kind of attentiveness is cultivated by more than the promise of a fortnightly salary and makes an important component for a successful career in project management.

Whether you are a regular volunteer at charitable fundraisers or spend the weekend participating in community workshops, these are all different experiences that can help you to succeed in your next application.

 

Coaching

Taking on the position of head coach for the senior basketball team should not be undervalued. Project management involves functioning as part of a wider team and ensuring that everyone works productively – coaching a sport is no different. In fact, this experience can instill many of the great leadership qualities valued by employers.

Coaching is a prominent example of your ability to transform a leisure activity into a highly sought after skill. As a coach, you would be expected to understand each player, develop tactics, coordinate roles and monitor individual achievement. Each of these tasks forms an intrinsic part of project management.

Of course, it’s important not to write an essay on your in-depth understanding of the position of point guard, or how you won the premiership 5 years ago. Keep it concise and focus on your role and the skills you gained.

 

Side projects

A venture that you have invested time and passion into is worth a mention to any potential employer. Whether it’s a personal blog or public speaking stunt on the weekend, acknowledging your interests will enhance your experience, show individual character and in doing so, catch the attention of recruiters.

Side pursuits are great to incorporate into a small summary or in the opening letter of your application. Balancing the professional and the personal will help your CV to stand out in the job search as exactly the leading project manager they’re looking for.

PMTimes_June13_2022

Survey Says – Three Keys To Project Success

As successful project management is integral to thriving in today’s environment, what could be considered a lingering recession or somewhat of a recovery,  the company that can deliver project results with absolute assurance will lead the race.  Since I’ve seen too many businesses with fabulous ideas and limited ability to deliver project results, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a quick survey to find out the top three keys to ensuring success.

 

And the survey says:

  1. Clarity of Goals. There are countless examples of project teams with a confused set of goals.  The executives typically think everything is crystal clear; however, when the rubber meets the road, it has somehow become unclear.   Those who delivered the expected project results had absolute clarity. I’ve found in leading and participating in countless project teams that this is not nearly as easy as it seems, which is most likely the reason most executives cannot understand why the goals have become unclear.   Typically the goals are clear at the start; however, as conflicts arise, the waters cloud up. For example, on one client project, the objective was clear – reduce inventory.  However, during the implementation, conflicts started to arise with supplier reliability, customer requests (outside of agreed-upon service parameters), and space constraints.  Depending upon how each of these conflicts was handled, the project team had a different/altered perception of the project goals. For example, if the executives weren’t willing to discuss supplier reliability with the supplier, the project team altered its perception – reducing the importance of inventory reduction in favor of maintaining the current supplier performance.  On the other hand, if the executives addressed supplier reliability immediately, the project team confirmed its understanding of the importance of the inventory reduction goal.  Further, in this case, depending on whether the supplier conversations were handled in a collaborative or a competitive manner, the project team also altered its understanding of the goal.
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      I’ve seen examples where, even if the supplier didn’t immediately improve upon reliability, if the project team knew it was being addressed (and typically in a collaborative manner) and was considered important by the executives, the same confirmation of the inventory reduction goal occurred.  I’ve been involved with enough inventory projects that I’ve seen each of these situations occur more than once.  Of course, my job as a consultant is to demonstrate the impacts of these types of decisions on the client’s performance, and so this is just the start.
  2.  Ability to Execute.  A unanimous key to success is the ability to execute.  It is amazing how many well-qualified project teams there are that cannot execute.  It is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Execution relates directly back to the organization of the project (how much planning and thought went into who does what, when, how, in what order and why) and hard work.  There are no short cuts.  The devil is in the details. If task A must be completed before task B can begin, and task A is on the critical path, it is vital that the task owner understands the importance of beginning the task on time, communicating roadblocks, and communicating with task B’s owner.  It’s as simple as that.  If you find someone excellent at execution, appreciate him/her!
  3.  Follow Up. Last but not least, follow up.  This is closely tied with execution; however, it was noteworthy enough to warrant a separate item.  Follow up can be the blocking and tackling of following up on project tasks, communicating with project team members, coordinating with other interested or required parties, etc.  And it can also be follow up to clarify project goal confusion and follow up on overcoming roadblocks outside of the core project team’s scope of responsibility. Thus, leadership is essential. Those projects with leaders who are intimately involved in enough of the details of the project to understand the complexities and roadblocks well enough to address them with the appropriate people, succeed.  This often leads to confusion. The project leader doesn’t have to personally perform each of the tasks in order to make this happen; however, the project leader must be involved enough and familiar enough with the details, the critical path and the project team members.  It’s a tricky balance, yet the key to success.

In my survey, these top three keys to success were present in every significant success, and they were present in 80% of those cases with some level of success.  Are you focused on these keys?

Developing a PMBOK Inspired Career Plan

Running Projects is Like Raising Kids – They Need Your Full Attention

So, we project managers move heaven and earth, ensuring project success happens.

By nature, we are happiest when projects are on track and green.

And as a fellow project manager, I know this work can be challenging with:

  • Constant organizational changes
  • Budget cuts fear or reality
  • Project team turnover
  • PMO demands for data or compliance
  • Seemingly aloof decision-makers (not purposely, just busy with their day jobs)
  • Technology issues

And, “We’re going Agile – eventually.”

So, you apply Agile tools and techniques for a lift on your waterfall project to manage current and future states of work.

Often, we work so hard on our jobs that we neglect our personal and professional selves.

 

 

The Best Time to Be a Project/Product Manager is NOW!

Let’s focus on ourselves and our careers for a moment.

Because our work is transformative and impactful, the demand for project managers is through the roof with no signs of stopping (Ex. Salaries, Challenges, Growth Opportunities, etc. – all rising).

FACT: PMI estimated project-oriented work may top $20 trillion by 2027 and put 88 million people to work (HBR.org Article Written by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez)

However, it would help if you STILL asked yourself these critical questions about your work:

  • Do I feel like the work gives me Purpose?
  • Is this work fulfilling?
  • Do you love problem-solving?
  • Is organizing things in your DNA?
  • Do you look forward to aligning people’s strengths to do great things?
  • Are you excited to learn new technologies and concepts to get more out of your day?

Can you answer each question with an emphatic “Yes?”

If so, you are operating in or near your life’s big “Why” or Purpose.

Check out this video for more on finding your life’s big “Why.”

As project managers, the work we do should be an extension of our reason for existence, in service to others, at this moment in time.

If not, revisit your career path because there may be a far more lucrative and fulfilling path than project management.

 

Beyond Market Demand, Does Project Management Help You Fulfill Your Purpose?

Not sure?

STOP – Read John Coleman’s Article: To Find Meaning in Your Work, Change How You Think About It.

John’s article appeared on HBR.org, and it’s legit!

Here’s a key point John makes that will help you frame up your WHY:

Remember why you work. Please identify the person or group of people in your personal [and professional] life that your work is in service for, and keep them in mind when you work through even the most tedious of tasks. A purpose isn’t magic — it’s something we must consciously pursue and create. With the right approach, almost any job can be meaningful.

Yes – You CAN find Purpose in any work, but it does not guarantee fulfillment.

CAVEAT: However, the most fulfilling work emerges from a clear sense of service that transcends self and targets impacts for you and those you serve with what you do best.

Bonus: the most fulfilled, financially free, and divine aligned beings on the planet figure out their “Why” and then strike out to touch the sky!

Is Project Management an extension of your why?

Well, it should be!

Is Project Management Your Jam?

If you are still reading, you must love what you do, so here’s a question for you:

How would your career change if you applied Project Management rigor to transform your career?

Listen, Jim Rohn – motivational speaker and businessman, once said:

PMTimes_May11_2022
Credit: Google Images

Do You Have a Job Or A Career?

Working on yourself means your life purpose gets integrated with your career.

A purposed career takes reflection, decision-making, and work creation that ensures work is more fun and lucrative than you could imagine.

 

Now ask yourself: Do you work harder on your job than you do on your career?

Wait – What’s the difference between a job and a career?

Simple: Careers are fulfilling because they work on you. Jobs are not fulfilling because you work on them.

You’ve heard of the great resignation.

The great resignation is partly fueled by retirement.

And, many post-pandemic workers slowed down long enough and realized their life and life’s Purpose was more doable with a flexible, remote environment where their best and most fulfilling work could be done.

And an unfulfilling job is like getting a root canal without anesthesia – it hurts too much and should never be done.

You need work that fills your heart, wallet, and purpose-driven needs for being alive at this point in time.

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Take a Page Out of PMBOK (Career Style)

Remember, we use PMBOK to transform our work.

Why not use the same rigor to transform our careers, too?

Let’s discuss the triple constraints as they apply to your career’s development.

You will focus on developing your first career phase, which takes approximately 6 – 12 months.

After that, you will revisit your plans, reassess them, and schedule another 6-12 month sprint until you reach career nirvana or something close to it.

 

 

Triple Constraints Blended with Project Phases

PMTimes_May11_2022
Credit: Projectmanager.com

As with any project, the goal is to add value.

Your career project is no different. Your career project is about adding fulfillment and value-adding capability to your career.

Let’s start with your scope, which breathes life into your life’s big “Why” with “What and How.”

INITIATE AND PLAN

Scope: Start with a career project charter and plan to initiate/solidify your career project:

First, suspend all logic and hold nothing back, so you won’t get in the way of getting what you deserve!

  • BUSINESS CASE/OBJECTIVES:
    1. What project work, people, places, and things give you the greatest fulfillment?
    2. What would doing this work look like each day?
    3. What short- and long-term benefits could you realize if bullets 1 and 2 came true?
      • Please be detailed with your descriptions.
    4. Finally, write a DESIRED STATE narrative summing up bullets 1-3 or create bullet points using the same rigor and diligence you give at work.
  • CONSTRAINTS: How does your CURRENT STATE differ from your DESIRED STATE?
    • Make a few notes about the key differences, then burn them! Acknowledging the old will help you move forward toward the new. Its history and focusing on it will keep you stuck.
  • RISKS: What things must change about YOU AND THE WORK YOU DO to achieve YOUR DESIRED STATE career?
    • What must you change personally and professionally to reach your DESIRED STATE career?
    • Create bullet points using the same rigor and diligence you give at work.
  • STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS: What stakeholders must you assemble to gain clarity on your best way forward?
    • List your stakeholders, the input you seek, and the input you receive. These stakeholders can be just about anyone you trust, like a:
      • Career coach
      • Mentor (video)
      • Someone further along in the career journey than you
      • A trusted advisor and Truth Teller
      • Spiritual wisdom from your Source

 

EXECUTE, MONITOR, AND CONTROL

Time: Develop your career project plan and time box your steps:

  • What three steps or tasks must you first execute, monitor, and control, to deliver on your 6 to 12-month career development project:
    • Think Start, Stop, and Continuing certain behaviors related to:
      • Professional Development (Ex. Continuous Learning)
      • Personal Development (Ex. Mindset Management)
      • Networking (Ex. Real relationships with other doers – not just LinkedIn connections, meaningful conversations with people behind, beside, or ahead of you in their career journey).
    • Distill your “Start, Stop, and Continue” into tangible steps:
      • Take a certification or online/live training course
      • Do volunteer work for experience
      • Watch personal development videos, so you are not the barrier to your success
    • Add some details and time boxes.

Remember, the three steps or big things you must do will encompass no less than six months but no greater than 12 months.

As the phrase goes, “You must count the cost.”

Cost: Pencils down. It is time to revisit your scope activities and consider what it will cost you to deliver on this 6 to 12-month career project.

For example:

  • Have you determined how you fund your personal or professional development where needed?
  • Are you fully committed to making this project move forward regardless of the obstacles?
  • Have you accurately estimated how much time and effort you will expend each month reaching project completion?
  • How will you socialize your plan, gain support, and keep your career project on track?
  • Have you considered most likely project disruptions and accounted for contingencies to them?

You are compelled and equipped to navigate this massive career lift and shift ahead if you do your homework.

 

Fast forward.

You’ve successfully counted the cost and dove into your career project.

And you remain on track to complete your three initial steps.

You must properly close out those steps that transitioned from DOING to DONE.

 

 

CLOSEOUT

After completing all three steps, you ensure they delivered on your expectations or receive sufficient evidence to do something different next time.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Did steps add work/life fulfillment? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?
  2. Did steps add value? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?
  3. What were your personal and professional lessons learned?
  4. In what ways did the project grow you personally and professionally? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?
  5. Did you connect and benefit/serve someone behind, beside, or ahead of you on the same/similar career journey? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?

If everything went according to plan, you close out your final step before moving on to the next step(s) in your 6 – 12 month career project.

Conclusion

Remember, project management isn’t for everyone, no matter how well you do the work. The work must be fulfilling, tie into your big “Why,” and help you thrive, not just survive!

After noodling your big “Why” and choosing a project management career desired state or path to begin leveraging the Career “Triple Constraints” concepts, develop your unique journey, and decidedly fulfilling career path.

Call to Action

The world needs us – get equipped for a world of projects producing exponential value! Finally, Global demand for Agile/Scrum/Product Management expertise is heating up for PMs with this experience and may be the key to you prospering in the new remote economy.

It’s only a matter of time before it intersects with your work or influences your opportunities.

About PMI Central Illinois Chapter

Visit PMI Central Illinois Chapter to Learn More. And check out a few more articles by other PMI CIC contributors.

5 Tips to Employee Engagement for Remote Teams

After hiring candidates, companies often ignore the importance of their employees’ well-being. If you’re wondering why some companies can have a high turnover rate, regardless of how popular they are among giant names, the percentage of employee engagement is one of those contributing factors to this situation.

While managers can set up a fun activity to keep their employees engaged at the office, they can’t really do the same now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This dreadful situation has forced many to put employees’ safety first. Hence, working from home isn’t that odd anymore.

That doesn’t mean managers can’t initiate an employee engagement program on remote terms. This article will dive into how businesses can thrive by improving employee engagement even though they are working away from the office.

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The Importance of Employee Engagement

Employees are companies’ biggest assets. Keeping them happy at your workplace will greatly benefit your business. After all, happy employees will do their best at work, resulting in better outcomes.

Here are a few benefits of getting your employees engaged.

Reduce turnover rates

Turnover is often one of the manager’s biggest enemies when it comes to ensuring a running project. Sometimes employees can quit at a time when companies need them the most, and that’s something managers can’t avoid or hold them to stay longer. This is where employee engagement plays a big part in avoiding this situation.

When companies pay attention to employees’ difficulties at work and provide them with a solution that helps overcome the situation, employees can put more trust in the organization. More trust means higher loyalty, which decreases their consideration to move out.

This can be done if the company provides a number of onboarding processes via training videos to help employees get the experience of what they can expect from the company. The onboarding also improves the communication between the company and employees so that they get engaged from the get-go.

Improve productivity

Productivity has been linked to employees’ ability to finish a task and handle a situation in a timely manner. But when said employees are unable to concentrate at work, whether it’s from internal or external problems, they may lose their performance. If companies have engaged with employees well, things that may potentially reduce productivity can be identified and avoided quickly.

Better customer service

Enthusiastic employees at work bring such a positive vibe around them. This can often be seen in the way employees treat and communicate with customers. Highly engaged employees don’t see work as an inevitable responsibility as an adult. They consider getting up every day to work to ensure they provide solutions to customers they are communicating with while also benefiting from working.

5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement for Remote Team

1. Encourage two-way communications

Communication is key in every part of life, including the workplace. Make sure to always have clear communication with employees, so you can get rid of misunderstandings at work.

After all, the workplace is one of the common areas where people get misunderstood easily. If you can’t initiate direct, two-way communication with people working in your organization, they may feel left out and consider you don’t provide the solution they are facing at the moment.

2. Listen to them

Make sure your employees don’t get left out even though they are working on a remote term. While they don’t often show any difficulties because of the distance, managers should ensure if they are doing okay in the first place.

Many won’t initiate a conversation due to location and time differences. That’s why employees keep almost everything about work themselves—asking if they face a certain problem while remote working can improve their connection with you and possibly open up for more conversation in the future.

3. Recognize their efforts

Companies often don’t see what their employees have done in maintaining their performance at work. Managers only see the result without considering how much effort one has put into gaining such an outcome.

Make sure to recognize your employees’ efforts and appreciate them for what they do. After all, everyone’s hard work has made it possible for the company to thrive in this difficult time. So, show them that you acknowledge their work.

4. Reward your employees

The act of acknowledging someone’s work may come in many forms, including giving a simple ‘thanks’ and round applause. While these are common and relatively inexpensive, you can go as far as giving points or a bonus as a reward for their hard work.

Your employees will surely appreciate it if their boss shares gifts or free coupons to the nearest villa when they achieve a goal. It shows that companies take care of their employees by giving them a reward after working hard.

Knowing how companies take little things, such as small wins matter, will improve how employees see their workplace. This convinces them more that they are working in the right place.

5. Create fun activities together

Sometimes working from the home policy can greatly impact employees in terms of getting burnout quickly. Compared when working in the office, employees could say hi to each other and wind down a little bit when the tension was too serious or when the workload was so heavy.

Remote working means the ability to communicate with other teammates is limited, which often causes more stress to employees. In order to avoid a quick burnout, managers can provide fun activities or games virtually. Getting into games can reduce stress and boost the employee’s motivation to work after it’s done.

Takeaway

Remote teams are prone to having burnout because they are limited to doing certain activities like they used to. When employees are easily stressed out without a quick handle from the company, they will feel excluded from the entire organization.

In the long term, such condition may reduce their performance and ownership as they don’t feel connected at all. Managers can handle this situation by taking into consideration what makes these employees engaged again.

It’s crucial to introduce exciting activities to boost up their mood. Make sure to listen to their voices and create a safe space for a private conversation. These will help remote employees engage in the company they are working.

Own Your Own Professional Development

This year (2022) is the best time to talk about something interesting – that is professional development. Why do I think you may be interested in this topic? Well, a recent (Sep 2021) survey conducted by HR Platform Employment Hero [1] via about 1000 survey respondents found that 48 percent of Australian workers planned to look for a new job in the next six months. That’s 1 in 2 people Down Under, a huge number, isn’t it? No wonder people in the US are talking about the Great Resignation[2]!

If you are still reading this article, you are potentially interested in investing your time, energy, and money in your professional development, so that you can seize the chance to progress your career sooner. You may want to ask me, “where should I start?” Well, Richard Branson once said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” So, my first advice is for you to check if your employer’s career paths and progression programs are in place that you can take advantage of. It is probably the easiest way for you.

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However, if the existing solution is not in place, the next best solution is to have a private chat with your people manager, see if he or she can create a bespoke solution for you, based on your circumstances. Check out this article from the job search portal Indeed and follow the 9 steps[3] to prepare your talking points before your meeting with your boss to show your commitment.

My personal experiences have been that most employers do care about their people’s career plans, especially when you have made consistent and visible contributions to their business. However, I admit there are organizations where staff hasn’t been provided with sufficient career progression opportunities. If unfortunately, this has been your experience, keep reading and I have a piece of good news for you – you can own your own professional development.

Here is how (3-Steps Plan):

  1. Set your career goal – If you like what you do, do you want to work at a more senior level? If you don’t like what you are doing, use your imagination superpower to determine your dream jobs. Talk to your family and friends to understand your strengths and talk to a trusted industry connection to understand which roles will match your strengths.
  2. Analyze the gaps – How can you get there? What skills will be required from your future job? What skills have you already got? What are the gaps? This step may sound difficult, but there is a short path – check out your current & future jobs on seek.com and write down the required skills.
  3. Bridge the gaps – Prioritise the skill gaps based on importance, urgency, and logical sequence. Now you may ask, is there a learning model that I can follow to upskill myself? The answer is yes! Let me tell you a bit of the 70-20-10 learning framework.
    • 70% of your new skills can be learned from doing. You can ask for new tasks at work, apply for a secondment or participate in professional volunteering. These activities can help you accumulate the required experience for your future.
    • 20% of your new skills can be learned from others. Coaching, mentoring, and attending industry events are widely available options to you.
    • 10% of your new skills can be learned from formal learning. Courses and certifications, if chosen wisely, will give you a decent return on investment.

To help you best bridge your skill and experience gaps, I have created a 1-pager diagram for your kick-start. It is based on my own professional development experience and the successful mentoring sessions that I have provided to my mentees in the last 7 years.

If you follow the 3 steps plan, make sure you set up regular checkpoints to reflect your progress. Adjust your approach as required. If you show your commitment, I don’t see why you cannot achieve your goal after a reasonable period of time. So, I wish you good luck and be part of your own success in the year ahead.

Reference:

  1. Australia’s version of the ‘great resignation’ revealed as staff swap jobs, Sydney Morning Herald, https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/australia-s-version-of-the-great-resignation-revealed-as-staff-swap-jobs-20211111-p5984f.html
  2. Who Is Driving the Great Resignation?, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation
  3. How To Talk To Your Boss About Career Advancement in 9 Steps, Indeed, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-talk-to-boss-about-career-advancement