When you’re a new PM, your immediate career goal may be to keep your head above water, or to succeed at your current project.
Mid-career, you’re looking to build relationships and grow into that “go to” PM – the one they call when the project absolutely must succeed.
Lots of my readers are already highly experienced Project Managers.
They’ve “been there and done that.” They’re seasoned – senior leaders and are well known for their ability to get the job done right. These folks are comfortable with communication to every type of stakeholder, from brand new BA to CEO to vendor resources.
So that got me thinking: for those at the pinnacle of their career…what’s next? Where do you go from here?
Seasoned PMs: this post is for you!
(What? Not a senior leader yet? No worries – you may find some nuggets in here, too!) 🙂
So what do you do with all those years of experience and wisdom?
To be fair, some PMs will be perfectly happy continuing to lead projects as they have been all along. That’s fantastic – and a huge relief to their companies, as well!
But PMs are driven to grow. We love projects, after all. And projects, by their very nature, create.
Without opportunities to grow, it’s easy to become dissatisfied and bored. The risk for the most experienced project managers is stagnation.
That’s not good for anyone!
So what can a seasoned Project Manager do to avoid this trap?
Here are a few options:
It’s gratifying to share your skills and help others avoid the mistakes you’ve already overcome. Find a program that allows you to foster the skills inherent in younger PMs. Many large companies have formal mentoring programs, but if yours does not, that doesn’t mean you can’t unofficially mentor someone! And if you belong to PMI, your local Chapter may have a Mentoring Program you could participate in.
This isn’t for everyone, but opportunities abound to share your wisdom and knowledge! Your company may have a lunch & learn series, or you could present to a local group (i.e. Chamber of Commerce or other professional organization). You can also participate in panel discussions.
- Bring your skills to the community.
At one time I ran the “Between Shows Pizza Dinner” for our town’s band and chorus nights. 200 kids descending upon the cafeteria, fed, watered, and back out the door in 45 minutes. Do you think that doesn’t call from some serious project management skill? Look around and see what opportunities you have to give back.
- Join a PM group.
I hope you’re already in one. But this is a great way to not only use your skills but to mentor, to get to know other PMs outside the office, and help grow the profession
- Get another role.
Have you ever considered leaving behind the title and moving to, say, VP of Engineering or Finance Director? What about Leadership Training? You can go “back into the business”, and the skills you’ve honed over the years will serve you (and your department) very well. Leadership & communication? Check. Milestones & prioritization? Double Check.
I hope this gives you some ideas to mull over. And perhaps you’re doing a few of them already? The goal is to continue to grow, even when you’re the expert. When you share, we all benefit!