How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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To be a good project manager you really have to be a jack of all trades.  I have always believed that it is important to be good at every task in order to be effective, but I don’t think that I ever really understood what that meant.  Sure, it’s easy to say we need to be good at multi-tasking, or good communicators, or creative thinkers, along with many other attributes, but is that it?  Recently I went through a humbling experience when I realized that I actually wasn’t good at everything.

Wearing all the Hats

Traditionally there are a few traits that define a project manager as I mentioned above, but I have come to find out there are so many more that are frankly undervalued.  At my office we have a saying that the project managers need to be able to wear all types of hats, that is to say that they need to be able to plug into many systems and make decisions appropriately.  Recently, I moved into a position where I not only an working as a project manager, but also leading a group of highly educated project managers and support staff.  Now I have spent the last several years managing projects with dynamic teams, but running a full department brought on it’s own set of challenges.  A few of the tasks that I am now being involved in are forecasting revenues and budgets, looking at Profit & Loss statements, and evaluating expenses.  As a PM it’s easy to justify an expense to meet the goal of your project, but as the team leader, it’s a lot hard to determine how to report out on overall performances and costs.

Really what is comes down to is we all need to be comfortable with the fact that we will never know everything – and honestly, we shouldn’t ever want to.  I provided a few tips and tricks to get you started, but once you have project management locked down, you may have a tendency to check out or be on autopilot.  I would argue that you should instead continue to challenge yourself, look for ways to be a part of something new.  I am always looking for new opportunities that require me to stretch or put on a new hat, and this new position is nothing different.  I may get experiencing challenges that I never faced before, but after all these years of PM work, I know how to find solutions and dive into the new world head on.  For new Project Managers out there, don’t be afraid to push yourself, be looking for the next hat you can wear and never be afraid to take a risk you believe in.

Are you a Project Manager? I’d love to connect on Twitter @BPetring!


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