Develop Your Negotiation Skills

Project managers spend 90% of their days communicating. Whether it’s meeting with senior leadership, discussing project obstacles with developers, or resolving new project expectations with customers, a project manager must be on top of their ability to negotiate. You must be able to know what the project needs to succeed—and withstand the onslaught of demands of scope creep and internal and external demands.

  • Check out Harvard’s Negotiation Project. Study up on BATNA’s, Dealmaking, and conflict resolution. You will find immediately applicable ideas and techniques that will make you a perfect candidate for project management.


Learn to Keep Organized

Most project managers are responsible for obtaining resources, engaging stakeholders, meeting schedule, and being accountable for costs. You often have no supervisory authority, but have to lead, manage, and inspire the people reporting to you in order to get the project done. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and it’s very difficult to succeed if you don’t have solid tools to support you.

  • Make a Stakeholder Map. Learn how to use Asana, JIRA, Basecamp, or Microsoft Project.


Take Ownership

Most people don’t want to take the effort to create a project plan, develop a fishbone chart, 4-square, or stakeholder map. Most people don’t want to be on the hook for seeing a project through to completion. Most people are worried about what will go wrong, about having responsibility for all of the work that goes into a successful project.

  • Don’t be like most people. Project managers must be brave, take ownership, step up, and stare into the face of uncertainty. If there is an opportunity at work that you can take on, even if you don’t know how to do it, say yes! You’ll learn more from the responsibility and experience than you ever will from waiting for the perfect opportunity.


Be Tech Fluent

The secret sauce of project management in Seattle is tech knowledge. There is no requirement that a project manager be a coder, a statistician, or a designer, but the more you know in those spaces the better you will become as a project manager. The very best project managers are those that can translate between the technical limitations of the project and the business needs. Help developers understand why the money matters and help the business leaders understand why the technology drives project outcomes, and you will always be necessary.

  • Take part in technology meet-ups, ask all of the dumb questions until it finally makes sense to you, and never be afraid to show your ability to facilitate cross-functional discussion.

Learn much more about project management in our 30-week Certificate in Project Management, which will give you all the tools you need and prepare you for the PMP. For more thoughts on career development, subscribe.