As you progress in your project management career you are sure to find you need to go on a lot of training courses. The skills needed in this job are so varied that it is pretty much impossible that you will be able to slot right in and do a great job without some help.
So how will you know which courses to go on? Here are some quick tips to help you decide.
Learn from Your Mistakes
Perhaps the most important piece of advice for any project manager is to learn from their mistakes. I can speak from personal experience here. One of my first tasks in the first project I led was to hold a meeting with some business experts and end users to discuss the problems with the current process. I hadn’t taking any formal training on facilitating meetings or negotiating and to be honest I was expecting an easy meeting anyway. Well, it turned out that (unbeknown to me) everyone else in the meeting was set dead against the process I was being asked to implement. I hadn’t prepared in advance for meeting challenges or hostility and so I was taken completely by surprise. The meeting was, unsurprisingly, a disaster and I vowed to get all the training I needed before hosting another one. It can take tough experiences like this one to help you learn what you are missing and to do something about it.
See What Is Most Urgent
The most likely situation for a new project manager to be in is that of needing to go on a lot of different training courses on a wide variety of subjects. In fact, even a relatively experienced project manager is still likely to feel the need to book themselves on a few more courses. This is an exciting situation to be in, as you know that you are going to gain a lot of new knowledge in the near future. However, not everything you need to learn is likely to have the same priority level .For example, if you are about to kick off your very first project then you are going to have a more urgent need for some project planning training than for something which aren’t likely to be able to use until later on in the piece of work. In a particularly hectic period of work this might seem like fire fighting but once things calm down you should be able to look ahead and choose your course with more care.
What Do You Need to Gain More Confidence?
One of the most important factors for anyone in a new role is that of their confidence levels. The project world is rather peculiar in this respect. After you have worked on a couple of different things you will probably feel a lot more relaxed about you role, as you will have sampled the wide variety of things which can get thrown at you and handled them all. However, when you start out you could lose a lot of confidence in your abilities due to being in a completely new environment. Everyone I have spoken to about the subject has said to me the same thing; that moving into the project world produced the biggest shock to their systems that they have experienced in their working lives. We each react to this in different ways but I would suggest that getting onto a few general project based training courses is a fine way to get you bedded in to this new world. This will mean learning the basics and getting yourself a good, solid grounding in the subject before you advance very far in your new career.
A Balanced Approach
I see the project manager role as being one in which you need a good balance of skills to succeed. This means that you need to avoid going on lots of training courses about one aspect of the job and ignoring the rest. It is normal to focus on one area but with project work you need to look at the bigger picture and see what skills you will need both now and in the future. You will probably want to start off by looking at your obvious weaknesses, i.e. the subjects you know little or nothing about. However, you might also be tempted to become an expert in one area to the detriment of others. It is a bit of a tricky balancing act to be honest but it can be done as long as you put some thought into it.