The Key to Career Success? Relationships.

From the Voices on Project Management Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Roberto Toledo
Vivek Prakash
Cyndee Miller
Shobhna Raghupathy
Wanda Curlee
Rex Holmlin
Christian Bisson
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Jess Tayel
Ramiro Rodrigues
Linda Agyapong
Joanna Newman
Soma Bhattacharya

Past Contributers:

Jorge Valdés Garciatorres
Hajar Hamid
Dan Goldfischer
Saira Karim
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
William Krebs
Peter Taylor
Rebecca Braglio
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

Recent Posts

3 Reasons Project Managers Are Like Jugglers

PMI + TED: Possibility Speaks

Adventures in Leadership

Disruption? No Prob for a Rogue Monkey Like You

Separating Standards and Knowledge Management

Categories: Career Help

I heard it over and over again: "Not you! No way. It can't happen to you! Impossible!" It was a nice thought, but the fact of the matter was that it was happening, and it was happening to me.

I was one of the most connected and well-known project managers in the company. I had a huge variety of experience and a sterling reputation. I was coming off of a wonderful two-year international assignment and was just getting ready to start back to work in the United States when I was told that my position was being eliminated.

While I had been away, my entire management chain had changed and my organization's mission had shifted out from under me. The company was laying people off in droves. A father of five, I was staring unemployment in the face.

The first order of business was to try to find another position within the company. It took a mad five-month scramble, but I managed to hang on.

During that period, I was very busy. Still, I took the time to reflect--not just on what to do about the situation, but what I might have done differently, and what I might do in the future to prevent it and how to be better prepared if it should happen again. In retrospect, it's easy to recognize this as textbook risk management.

I also considered the things I had done well (that in the end made it possible for me to find another position) and reflected on what I might do to ensure that I continued to do those same things in the future--textbook lessons learned.

I collected my thoughts, my resolutions, my lessons learned, in a one-page document titled simply, "I wish I had." I review it periodically to keep it at top of mind and I will tell you honestly that often enough, it's painful to re-read it. Some lessons are only learned painfully.

I'm happy to say that I have been given the opportunity to put those resolutions into practice, and so I would like to comment on them in this space with the sincere hope that perhaps you might find value in the lessons I've learned.

In our business, a certain level of technical prowess is necessary but not sufficient. Beyond technical skills, we need to develop people skills, and the essence of people skills is relationships.

As I look over my one-page document, I note that there are some things that I don't see:
•    I wish I had been better at making Gantt charts.
•    I wish I had been a better software developer.
•    I wish I had cultivated deeper skills in earned value analysis.

On the contrary, my list is filled with resolutions about relationships. It's about people skills and how I need to further cultivate and employ them to not only ensure continued career success but also appropriate work/life balance.

I'm looking forward to sharing more reflections around these career lessons learned--and hearing your thoughts as well.
Posted by Jim De Piante on: March 19, 2010 01:44 PM | Permalink

Comments (0)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.


"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

- Mark Twain