I saw a good meme the other day on Facebook where a candidate was being interviewed and one of the interviewers asked the candidate what he considered to be his greatest strength. The interviewee replied, “Honesty.” The interviewer then replied that he didn’t really think that was an actual strength. And the interviewee replied that he didn’t really care what the interviewer thought. Honesty. It’s a good character trait…but sometimes being quiet is a better one. At least it can be if you want to keep your job or get that next job.
There’s no question we all have strengths and weaknesses. For me, one of my weaknesses is sometimes being a bit disorganized. Another weakness is the tendency to over-think a process or situation which may mean I will sometimes plot a less than efficient course to get something accomplished. I know, these don’t sound like a project manager weaknesses, but thankfully they have not affected my ability to deliver and keep client satisfaction high.
The key is to recognize our strengths and focus on those. As for weaknesses? That’s why we surround ourselves with good employees or a good project team – we can rely on them to take on tasks that we might not otherwise be strong at.
I suggest that each of us go through this exercise to analyze where we stand…
List what you consider to be 20 of the key responsibilities of your position. Assuming you are a project manager or something close to it, that list will start by including some of these items…
- Managing a portfolio of more than one complex project engagement at a time
- Analyzing and forecasting project financials
- Managing a team of project resources
- Resolve resource issues and conflicts
- Status reporting to the project client
- Making tough decisions with less than adequate information
- Leading meetings with key stakeholders
- Planning for project risks
Next, rank on – on a scale of 1 to 10 – how experienced or “good at” each of these 20 key areas of responsibilities you think you are. You could also have your manager do this about you and compare the list, but I don’t recommend it. Why give them the opportunity at this point to start identifying your strengths and weaknesses? Use this list you come up with as a learning scenario and something you can use going forward to focus on your best and improve on your worst. That way when your next performance review rolls around you’ll be well prepared – probably even over prepared – to discuss. Your manager will be amazed. Look…you can consider that preparation and proactive awareness to be a strength!
What to do with this list? Well, beside the good suggestion I just gave you above, consider it a personal lessons learned session and use it on your next few project engagements to push yourself in the areas you are rating yourself as weak in. If you tend to procrastinate project tasks to the last minute, focus on prioritizing those things you like to shove aside higher…or work on your delegating skills so you can focus on what you excel at. You might also want to share this list with one or more of your project teams. Why? Because they can help you maintain accountability for improvement in these areas on the current project and each and every project management going forward.
Summary / Call for Input
None of us like to admit weaknesses. And we often don’t recognize some of our best strengths. We are also even worse at taking the time to identify and rate our own personal strengths and weaknesses. We are so busy with our work and the demands of our teams and clients that we fail to recognize those opportunities to improve and further excel at our profession. But it is truly healthy to examine this from time to time and you’ll never be sorry for working to improve on your weaknesses and stay focused on your strengths.
For additional tips and insights about project, program and portfolio maturity, consider these additional resources:
- Eclipse Video: An Introduction to Project Portfolios
- PMO Toolkit, our guide to help you identify the strategies, processes, and software needed to establish and mature a successful PMO.
About Brad Egeland
Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at https://www.bradegeland.com/.