It’s been said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is its depth. We may find that sometimes our jobs as project managers has settled into such a rut, such a routine, that we feel as if we could die if we had to do this just one more day. Whenever we find ourselves in such a state of mind, we need to step back, assess our situation and take the necessary steps to reinvigorate ourselves and bring our jobs, performance and results back to life! What can we do as project managers to get out of a rut and bring excitement back to the job?
Where Did The Good Times Go?
Remember the first day you started your job? Everything was new and exciting, every conversation was brimming with opportunity and the days flew by! You joined a team of project managers that was going to change the world at this company, armed with the best project management tools and fabulous team members.
Fast forward a couple of years and the picture has changed. Many things have become routine; the same conversation has been had a thousand times before and the days seem to drag.
What happened? It’s the same job, the same people, and the same place as the day you started, but something has happened. You may have even contemplated quitting your job to start somewhere else so you can experience the same excitement again. Before you take such drastic measures, consider four things you can do to plug yourself back in and get energized about your position again.
Let’s face it, a project managers day is typically filled with putting out fires, dealing with project stakeholders that may be frustrated, and fielding dissatisfied client’s issues and complaints. Day after day, week after week and year after year this type of activity will gradually wear you down. This results in sapping you of the energy and feeling of accomplishment that accompanies a job well done. The nature of our job as project managers is to deal with problems and escalations on a daily basis and this can bring you down, no matter how good you are.
What can you do? Go visit some happy customers. Take a day and go out and visit customers that are using your product or have benefited from a successful project implementation. Hear what they like, listen to how it saved them money, made their jobs easier, or helps their customers. Reflect on their ideas and suggestions about making things better. You will come back with a renewed excitement about the services you and your company provides.
Think about it this way. When was the last time you called the electric company and said you really appreciate the fact that your electricity has stayed on for a long period of time without interruption? Probably never! They only hear from you when there’s a problem. As project managers, you are the electric company. It is the rare day when someone will let you know they appreciate their lights being on. Change your routine, take the initiative to visit some happy customers. You’ll feel better after you do.
2. Pursue a New Certification
If you have things running like clockwork and have some time to spare, why not work towards another certification? If you are a Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM), you can move toward your PMP. If you already a PMP, work on becoming a Program Management Professional (PgMP). You can even contemplate Six Sigma or ITIL Certifications.
Most employers will pay for this additional project management training and certification for project managers that are doing a great job at their company. All you need to do is come up with a compelling value-add reason of how this will benefit your company. It doesn’t necessarily even need to be a new certification you pursue. Look into adopting a new project management methodology. Join an association of project managers that allow for NETWORKING opportunities and find new and exciting ways of doing things. Subscribe to project management JOURNALS and find great project management BLOGS to read and keep you inspired.
3. Unclutter Everything
One thing that happens when you stay somewhere for a long period of time is that clutter accumulates. This clutter is made up of different things, both literal and figurative. For example, your office may be cluttered, you may not be able to see the top of your desk, or your computer is littered with unused files and shortcuts. There may be orphaned projects that are languishing and just need to be closed out, or broken relationships that need mending. All of these things need your attention so you can move forward gracefully and efficiently.
If you come in each day with the weight of clutter bogging you down, you will find it hard to work on new and exciting things. Clean up your office, rediscover your desktop, close out projects that need to be closed and mend relationships that may be broken. You will feel a great weight lifted off your shoulders and begin to look at things in a new way. A great time to go through this exercise of UNCLUTTERING everything is the end of the year. Schedules slow down a bit, people are on vacation and you may find that you have a little “quiet time” to yourself. Take this opportunity to organize what you need and eliminate what you don’t.
4. Bring in New Blood
If you are in a position to hire people and you need to bring in someone new, bring someone on-board that is different than you. We are all drawn toward certain types of people and personalities. When you look at the team of project managers you have assembled, are they the same as you? Do they have the same background, same education, and same experience? Hire someone that is qualified, but also has a different background, different education and different experiences. Bringing in new blood adds excitement back to the mix.
What if you are not in a position to bring someone new on board? You can still connect with people that are entirely different than you. If you are in IT, connect with someone in Marketing. If you are in Marketing, connect with someone in Finance. Break out of your comfort zone of hanging out with your team of project managers all the time. This can be either inside or outside your organization. You will find that they may have experienced similar issues as you, but approached it from an entirely different angle. You can bring this energy and different approach back to your routine and become more engaged.
So, you may not be able to bring back the same excitement you had the day you started your new job, but you can come close. Meet with happy customers, pursue a new certification, unclutter everything, and bring in new blood all for the purpose of bringing excitement back to your job!
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