Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Stay Competitive as a PM

One of the most difficult things to do, especially if you’re employed and very busy, is to keep on top of what is happening in your field of work. There are exceptions when it comes to type of work, like doctors who work in research hospitals or organizations. They almost always have the newest techniques and technology at their disposal, to the benefit of the patient. Even CPAs can argue that they are adept at the new rules, taxes, and guidelines that come out of Washington, DC. They have to if they are going to be preparing tax returns for individuals or conducting audits for corporations. What about the Project Manager (PM)? If the PM is busy on a project implementation,  that PM may not be able to stay on top of the new wave of project management like Agile, for example. So how does a PM stay competitive? How can a PM who works over 50 hours a week devote any time to exploring what is new in project management?

Belong to a PMI Chapter
Being part of a PMI Chapter presents opportunities to network and to learn of new PM work being done at organizations. I go to my state chapter’s annual symposium, which is a full day of break-out sessions of different topics ranging from Agile to how Edison was an innovator and how to incorporate his philosophy into your daily work life. I have never been disappointed with these symposia. Also, my state chapter has monthly programs that discuss a PM topic. If I am interested, I go to the meeting or one of its satellite meetings where the main meeting is broadcast. In other words, my state chapter provides options that fit my schedule.
Become an author
I can say with certainty and experience that becoming an author brings with it a certain level of authority. I am not suggesting that only a blog provides you with authority. It doesn’t hurt, but it is not the only avenue. As a matter of fact, your chapter usually sends out a monthly or quarterly e-zine or e-letter. They are always looking for articles to publish and almost no PM subject will be rejected unless the topic has been published before. Before publishing this blog, I wrote multiple articles, and not just for my chapter. I also authored an article for a website devoted to Professional Service Organizations (PSOs). So my question to you is, “What are you waiting for?” Pick a burning topic that you have wanted to discuss and write about it and submit is as an article for your chapter. I always hear from individuals that they fear the remarks on the article. I say, I want to hear from others and hear their viewpoints. How else are we to grow as PMs?
Meet with other PMs on a regular basis to discuss what’s new
I have found that one of the best methodsfor learning is to meet with other PMs in other organizations (which you can do at a chapter meeting). There is no better way to get outside of your comfort zone and learn something new. You may be surprised at how well your experiences and your lessons learned are appreciated by other PMs. I also find that networking with other PMs on a regular basis to discuss new techniques and methodologies is always educational.  Learning about another PM’s lessons learned is a way to branch out as a PM. I can’t tell you the number of new PM methodologies and techniques that I have used in my work that I have learned from others. It is something that shows maturity and a level of knowing how to grow.
In conclusion, there are a number of ways that a PM can stay competitive in their profession. This does take an additional effort on the part of the PM, but the PM wants to stay informed and competitive int the PM field, then additional effort is called for. I can say with experience, the need to stay competitive has never been more important for a PM. The field is very competitive and there is much changing due to Cloud Computing, Six Sigma and other new influences to the PM profession. My advice is to stay competitive and get involved.  
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.