Last week I went to lunch with another project manager I met through a rebranding project we were a part of last year. As we were talking about daily ups and downs of being a project manager—and about a support group we often lacked—it got me thinking that this would be a useful subject to write about.
I have always enjoyed working for boutique-sized companies. (I’ve often wondered if I would get lost in the corporate shuffle of memos about the new coversheets on all the TPS reports at some conglomerate company.) Although there are immense benefits to working for a small firm, there are times when being the only project manager has its frustrations—mostly from a lack of having a group of other PMs to bounce ideas off.
But instead of sitting at the office moping about being all alone, I have always found some ways to connect to people who have a similar job as me. The reasoning is simple: similar roles often encounter similar issues. And since I can’t look at Pinterest or Visual.ly like designers often do for inspiration/answers, I turn to other resources that are made available for PMs. If I’m not using one of these sources, I have found a few other ways to make my career as a project manager more fulfilling (and less lonely).
1. Join a support group
LinkedIn has some fantastic groups to join that you can engage in conversations with others. Sure, I understand you don’t need any more emails in your packed inbox, but I’ve found ways to get around that issue and enjoy the dialog. I often turn off my email notifications and turn on my push notifications on my phone. Then if I am engaged in a conversation I will keep up with it—and at the same time, the conversations I am in interested in don’t bog me down in emails.
2. Find a buddy
Whether through projects with clients or going to functions, it’s important to meet people in a similar role as yourself. Setting up a lunch or coffee meeting to just chat about frustrations, issues, solutions, new articles and books is fantastic. This is an area I could easily improve on, but even having one person to meet with is better than none.
Blogs are great tools to find new inspiration, ideas and support. I am always blown away that there are PMs that have enough time to blog as well as do their job—and I am thankful there are some great ones out there to follow. Because of spam, many blogs have the comments turned off, but there are a good amount that have comments turned on and allow for some informative discussions.
Three of my go-to PM blogs are:
Project Management Hut: http://www.pmhut.com/
Herding Cats: http://herdingcats.typepad.com/my_weblog/
A Girl’s Guide to Project Management: http://www.pm4girls.elizabeth-harrin.com/
These tips of advice aren’t just for project managers. They are for anyone trying to make the most of their career and learn from others. We all need others to help us grow and improve. And if I can improve my skills, that will help workflow, productivity and the bottom-line. By communicating and learning from others I can better gauge if I am on the right track—ultimately creating a more enjoyable career for myself and better workspace for my clients and coworkers.
P.S. I found this great infographic for all you PMs to enjoy.
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