In the era of Great Reshuffle, it is relatively easier to move to another contract/role.
However, with that easiness comes the paradox of choice: which role and/or which contract do I commit myself to do next?
I believe it is quite difficult to answer that question without having a plan.
I have been privileged to work with thousands of professionals over the last 15 years, helping them improve their CVs in line with their next career step. While over 500 of those individuals would be Project Managers, what comes as a surprise, only a fraction of them would have their career plan drafted.
As a project manager, you are used to planning – this is a core part of your work every single day in any project management role you have been performing in your career to date.
It is a key part of your skills and one of the top areas of your professional expertise. Why not use that knowledge to your benefit in your professional and personal life?
In addition, we, as humans, like patterns, plans, and guidelines. They help us move on; they give us a comforting feeling of routine we need from the earliest stages of our life. In other words, have a less or more structured idea of how you want your professional life to look like on a giant rock floating around the Sun.
When thinking about your professional life, you can easily look at it as one long-term project. It could be achieved by following these general steps:
- Identify your current position;
- Identify where would you like to be, and what is your dream role;
- Perform a gap analysis;
- Make a plan;
- Break it down;
- Identify long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals;
- Check and amend on a regular basis;
- When in doubt – reach out to us.
You can start preparing your career plan at any stage of your life. Whether you are a starting project manager or a seasoned professional, you can prepare for the next stages in your life at any point.
Start with assessing your options. What kind of project management you are in at the moment, and what is right for you next. For example, do you want to stay on the hardware/systems side of IT Project Management, or would you rather like to move to quality/standardisation/best practices around that area? Would you consider moving to Programme Management?
Consider your environment (even the basic SWOT analysis will work) as well as your strengths and interests.
Check your weaknesses and decide how to overcome those – in need of certification? Which standards/processes would you consider focusing on and getting qualified in?
Another important part of the assessment here is your salary, the company’s values and culture, and the logistics (working hours, location, and way of working). For example, if you are a type of person who cannot thrive without face-to-face interaction, you will be willing to consider the hybrid approach many organisations are reintroducing right now, with 2-3 days onsite, and the rest of your working week on a work from home basis.
List your assets. Your current skills, abilities, expertise, and roles you held to date, no matter how long, or how short will be critical for you to understand whether it suits you.
Look at the desired roles and levels you want to reach, and see where the gaps are. Address those, with reasonable timeframes. This will help you identify your main points for development.
Set your goals. Think long-term, then mid-term, then short-term; from strategic to tactical, to secure the most successful way for yourself.
Adjust the timings. Be reasonable, factor in any force majeure (to a certain degree), and make sure you do not apply an overwhelming number of goals concurrently.
Introducing a SMART approach to setting your goals might be a way here:
Be detailed about what your goal should be;
Choose a goal you can quantify which in turn will help you measure how close you are to reaching it. For example, increasing profit margins by 50% within three months is a measurable goal;
Set goals that you can achieve. Think about the individual steps you can take to accomplish your goal to make sure they’re realistic. Setting and achieving attainable goals can help you reach bigger ones.
Think about how your goal can improve your career. For example, setting a goal of running three miles is not relevant to the career path of becoming a lawyer.
- Time-based: Set deadlines for your goals to motivate yourself. For example, setting a deadline of three years to get a law degree.
The next stage would be grouping your goals. This will ease the management of your plan, moving forward.
- Establish key criteria: similarly to a project, focus on cost, time, and quality. Make sure you include your personal interests and any other elements you are finding important and willing to compromise (prestige, level of interaction with the public, popularity, alignment – or lack thereof – with your personal interests)
Up till now, you were on a first-name basis with your plan. You included your professional and personal preferences. However, at this point, when introducing timelines to your goals, what really helps is detaching yourself from it and thinking of it as yet another project you are running.
Make sure you treat it just like a plan. Assign points in time (every 6 months, for example) where you go back and adjust it. Life goes on, reality changes, and not having that reflected in your plan would be an unreasonable thing to do, wouldn’t it…
This will allow you to track your progress, reiterate and reinforce where necessary, and modify and alter where needed.
Please note that Aspira, as a project management consultancy, strongly believes in the power of development. Our solutions as well as our professionals grow in time, moving from project to project, nurturing qualities and improving the standards, in line with the continuous improvement approach.
Should you be interested in joining our PM practice, please speak to our resourcing team – email@example.com
Should you be looking for PM services to secure positive change for your projects, please speak to our sales team – firstname.lastname@example.org