Good Project Management – when things go bad

Over the years of managing projects and listening to others tell their tales of PM, by far the most interesting stories are those which contain elements of difficulty. This isn’t just because we all love to hear when the proverbial hits the fan for amusement, it is because we start to get a sense of unity and learn a lot by how issues have been overcome. It says lots about an individual and their professional style, bringing a different slant to the overused “on time and on budget” results.

Projects fail for a number of reasons, and how we react in the face of pending failure makes us who we are – this is something which is rarely recorded in a CV and probably one of the key elements which sets you apart from your peers in the field. Put yourself in the hiring managers’ shoes, if you are looking for a good project manager does this mean someone who has only ever had smooth running projects which have always been delivered on time and to budget or do you think you would look for a successful PM who has a portfolio of projects which have not all come to fruition? How many times have you been managing a project which has lost sight of the benefits or the benefits are no longer aligned to company strategy? Would you want a PM who can hold their hand up and push back on the sponsor to close it down to reduce cost impact? And on those key projects which have tangible benefits, but the scope is slipping – a PM who can recognise the signs and take action to bring it back on course through good management?

PM War StoriesI would be a little worried assigning a new PM who has never managed the tricky elements of project delivery to my valuable portfolio for these very reasons. When you are looking for a new position whether it be a promotion or a move into a new organisation you should think about what sets you apart from others and what actually makes you a good PM – the same goes for the support roles too, PMO professionals are empowered these days and the responsibility to ensure your programmes and projects succeed come down to how you engage with the delivery staff. Understanding the business objectives and identifying where bottlenecks occur is paramount to setting you apart from others. Talking about how you can analyse and apply solutions to the programme of work will not only highlight your professionalism but also work in your favour for moving up the career ladder.

By demonstrating your good management skills through dealing with the difficult aspects rather than merely focusing on success you will be presenting a good case for your prospective employer to interview you. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, embrace it and all the positive elements which go with it.

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