Find a Mentor
Find a Project Management mentor to work one-on-one with you. There are other sources for ‘mentoring’ such as blogs, books, and podcasts. These are not as rewarding as interaction, the give and take of conversation; being able to ask for clarification and how to apply information to your particular situation. Blogs, books, and podcasts are great for continuing education and building a knowledge resource base.
Look for project managers within your company and/or project managers outside the company. Interview team members to judge which project manager has the skills you want to emulate. Go to project management or industry organization events to broaden your search. Maybe you want two mentors; one inside your company and one outside your company for a different view point or experience.
Once you have decided on a mentor and the individual agrees to mentor you, develop a Mentor/Mentee agreement. The agreement should cover expectations, meetings, length of the agreement, and include a confidentiality clause. The confidentiality clause should provide a safe environment in which to discuss issues with complete details.
Learn the business side of your company
Be thirsty for business knowledge. You will need to build relationships with department managers. Learn what their departments do for the company and how it relates to your projects. Be thirsty for organization knowledge. Study the culture and how well it accepts project management/managers. Some organizations – employees – don’t like project management or project managers.
Find out how the company develops project ideas. How does the company decide which projects to fund? Is funding decided by individual responsible or is a committee? Who’s on the committee? Is selection based on a criterion?
Learn Active Listening
From day one apply the old adage, you have two ears to listen twice as much as you speak. Apply active listening; hear what is being said and watch body language. Don’t start thinking about your response until the other person has stopped speaking. Try very hard not to prejudge what the person is going to say. Always ask questions to clearly understand what is being said.
This is based on my career path and development as a project manager. If you are excited about having a project management career, absorb the knowledge that is available.