The Formula for Developing Competence in Project Management (and anything else)
For me, my passion is to help individuals and businesses manage projects better. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that there is always room for improvement – whether from a position of being new to PM with limited knowledge or experience or from stepping into a new challenge, every project is unique and throws up opportunities to grow and develop and deliver better outputs and benefits than last time! To achieve this you need to grow your competence.
Competence = knowledge + experience + skills + behaviour
Knowledge is grown through listening, watching, reading, studying … in other words learning from the experience of others who have been there before you. No training course will make you a better project manager, but a well constructed learning intervention can provide you with the knowledge and tools that will open the door for you to become one. Assessing your knowledge regularly against recognised standards also ensures you are keeping up to date with what others are learning and helps you develop and retain your credibility within the PM community.
Experience is grown by doing … by exposing yourself to challenges you haven’t faced before and pushing through the boundaries of your comfort zone. The benefit of gaining experience is that you can draw on what you have previously done or been involved with when faced with challenges or uncertainty, and this gives you greater confidence to step into larger, more complex challenges.
Skills are grown through practicing … anyone can be taught how to click the right buttons in a software application or calculate the critical path through a schedule, but to be able to do so efficiently and effectively takes practice. Learning to spot potential issues or understanding the story your project data is really telling requires a skilled eye that has practiced looking at project information many times and from many angles.
Behaviour is grown through honestly reflecting, receiving feedback … the way you do things has a huge impact on their success – or failure – and we all have blind spots in our behaviour we need others to help us to see. Self awareness is a vital skill to develop, but as important is the ability to receive coaching and mentoring from those who can help you grow and improve. Of course, there will come a time when you can coach and mentor others, and developing the ability to do this will help you grow the next generation of Project Managers coming up behind you
By continually growing your competence – your knowledge, your experience, your skills and your behaviour – you will see improvements in your ability to manage projects better, which in turn helps you to deliver better projects.