If you are trying to decide on career options, and project manager is a position that interests you, consider these eight facets of the job to decide if it is the right career choice for you.
Project management is fast-paced
The world of project management is a fast-paced environment often filled with conflicting deadlines and priorities that do not allow for much breathing space. It is continually moving at a speed that many people may have a very hard time keeping up with.
Oftentimes just when you think one obstacle has been averted, another may quickly arise. If you are not easily flustered or thrive in this type of environment, you have passed the first gateway in your decision about this career choice.
Project management comes with an abundance of uncertainty
Regardless of all the planning that goes into the execution of a project, uncertainty is always lurking in the background waiting to jump in and foil those plans. Project managers must often think they have become circus clowns; constantly juggling resources, deadlines, deliverables, and priorities to ensure their projects align with business strategy.
Project management involves constant pressure and stress
In this field, persistent pressure and stress is one of the only constants. Due to all of the juggling previously mentioned, there are plenty of opportunities to “feel the heat.” I have yet to hear of a project manager feeling rested or relaxed at the end of a day, or getting a truly good night sleep no matter how great they are at this type of job. In fact, many really great project managers get less sleep because they are constantly thinking of all the “pieces” that are at play and the associated risks and complications.
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Project management means dealing with continual change
If you adapt well to continual change and a certain level of regular chaos in your professional life, you will likely transition well into the life of a project manager. There is no room for a “comfortable place” mindset, where things are routine or mundane; it is anything but. Everything, from where you work, how you do things, whom you interact with and when things are done is in constant flux and flex. In fact, continual change is the sheer nature of what is required to keep within the scope of a project.
Project management means multiple deadlines
Prioritizing and managing multiple deadlines can be tricky and even frustrating at times, but will be a regular occurrence in this field. To meet business goals, project deadlines may need to be constantly re-evaluated and possibly altered. This can required a fair amount of balancing of human and financial resources, and can also impact the quality of the product or services being delivered. This requires a project manager who is level-headed and calm under pressure.
Project management means dealing with internal and external conflict
One of the things that can make even the best project managers crazy is dealing with difficult people, which includes internal and external conflict. Nobody really likes to deal with this at the best of times, but it is an essential skill to have in order to be a successful project manager. Without it, entire projects can be, and have been sabotaged or even sidelined completely. Having the ability to work with parties to resolve conflict for the good of the business is a true skill, and one that is highly valuable; being able to do this while putting your own biases and views aside is an art.
Project manager have demanding schedules
Project managers’ schedules often require them to regularly exceed a 9-to-5 workday. Project managers often “eat, sleep and breathe” project management from the initiation through to the close-out. Even projects that go according to plan (if there is such a thing) require project managers to practice speed sleeping, eating and breathing throughout. Burnout is a serious issue for project teams and especially project managers.
[ Related: 13 Tips for Keeping IT Projects Under Control ]
Project management requires exceptional organization skills
Exceptional organization skills are a must-have. In order to handle fast-paced environments filled with multiple deadlines, continual change, constant stress, uncertainty, conflict and demanding schedules, a project manager must be exceptional when it comes to organizational ability, just to keep everything moving ahead and on track.
Because of the high level of responsibility and risks associated with successful project planning and execution, this is a highly demanding career option that should not be taken on lightly. However, these challenges and demands can be highly rewarding growth opportunities.
If all of the things the job entails do not frighten you, then you just might be cut out to be a great project manager.
This story, "Do you have what it takes to be a project manager?" was originally published by CIO.