Project Management

100 Days to Becoming a Better Project Manager

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By Emily Luijbregts

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell explains that you need 10,000 hours to master any skill. That equates to several years of work and development.

But even dedicating smaller amounts of time can lead to progress. If I told you that you could become a better project manager within 100 days, would you believe me?

I’ve been spending a lot of time during the pandemic thinking about professional development and how we can become better project management professionals in every aspect of our careers.

When I started on this journey myself, I decided to take a look at my leadership skills and determine how I could better manage my remote and virtual teams. I chose this path based on the projects that I managed this year and where I felt that I could add the most value to my projects, organization and, more importantly, my team.

Your challenge—if you choose to accept it—is to sharpen your skill set as a project leader over the course of 100 days.

In the next 100 days, I want you to consider taking the steps below and tracking where this journey can take you:

1. Determine three areas that need your attention.

Where are your weaknesses? Where do you most need help?

This can be a real challenge for some people to comprehend, as knowing your weaknesses is a sign of a deeper understanding of yourself as an individual. I have truly come to understand my weaknesses, not only in my professional life but through my private challenges, which enabled me to look at myself from a different perspective and analyze my achievements and shortcomings.

When I’m mentoring an individual, we’ll spend quite a bit of time working on this topic—normally, it’ll be something that they didn’t think of initially. If you struggle with this task, I suggest talking to someone whom you trust and working on this together.

I recommend choosing three areas of focus, but if you have two or four areas, that’s absolutely fine. This is your path and your journey.

2. Make a plan for what’s realistic to achieve in this time period.

Let’s be honest, no one can devote 24 hours a day to perfecting a skill or personal development: It’s just not possible. Life gets in the way. And that’s absolutely fine.

Determine what’s feasible to achieve in the next 100 days and set yourself some realistic SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based). Also, analyze how you’re going to get there. What tools do you need to be able to develop? Is there a course of action you need to follow? What about guidance? This is the time to make sure that you’ve got the resources that you need to succeed.

You can plot this plan however you feel is most appropriate. You can choose a Kanban Board, Gantt chart or even a list of to-dos. Keep it simple and tailor your methods to your needs. When I did this for myself, I created a sheet in my workbook that looked similar to the below:

 

Task

How to achieve it

Deadline

Status

Study management styles in different cultures

Webinar: Projectmanagement.com

How to Be a Chameleon in Your Project: Changing Your Management Style to Lead a Successful Project

1 March

Done

Look at leadership in different cultures

Book: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

Outcome: Analyze the takeaways and see what I can use in my projects.

30 March

Done

 

3. Seek out support.

Make your manager and colleagues aware of what you’re doing, and maybe they’ll join you. Make this a positive turn towards professional development and collaboration. I bet there are skills that you have that your colleagues need and vice versa. Challenge each other to become better professionals and raise the bar within your teams.

My support network came in the form of my peers. I asked several respected project managers whom I trust if they could recommend courses or webinars that might be suitable or give me advice based on their experience.

4. Complete the action plan.

Now, we get to the difficult part: You need to actually do the work and execute the plan that you’ve made. Watch some webinars, attend training courses and find a mentor. Along the way, I’d like to suggest that you adopt the agile principle of “inspect and adapt.” Analyze what you’re doing: Is it working? Do you need to change paths?

At the end of the 100 days, you will emerge a stronger, more confident project manager.

What 100-day challenge are you willing to take on to become a better project leader?

 

Posted by Emily Luijbregts on: July 09, 2020 01:38 PM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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This is a useful article for beginners like me. Will try to implement the suggestion.

Thanks for the sharing !

@Neelam: so glad that you like it and find it useful!
@Jean- Claude: thanks for commenting!

Great article indeed. Thanks

Thanks for sharing

Thank you everyone. Id love to know what you're planning to do to improve or if you think you'd do it in another way. Let's start a conversation and share knowledge

Great article, very insightful. Thank you!!

Hi Emily:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts I think it is a good piece of advice for getting better, not only as PM but in every aspect of your life.

If you allow me and with all do respect, I would suggest a different approach, In Organizational Development which tangentially covers personal improvement we talk about low hanging fruits. I mean, search within yourself where is the lowest gap to get better. When you do this, chances are you have to start from your strengths rather than your weaknesses... This way perhaps you will get a dramatic improvement in 100 days time.

Hope you like this different approach. Thanks

Hi Jorge,

Yes! Thank you for suggesting an alternative. That's another way to focus yourself and your talent to become better. The differences with low hanging fruit is that you can be deceived by the effort needed or the impact that it'll bring to your life. I definitely agree that it's a different way of looking at it. I'd love someone to try both and tell me which they'd prefer

Great article Emily. This is very practical and SMART.

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