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I'm currently active as a project leader (under a project manager) on a project at the European Commission.

I've literally asked my PM to guide me, let me know what I could do to improve etc.

What would you recommend to do for getting good guidance?

The broader perspective of this question is:

What do you recommend to do if you are a junior Project Leader to learn the tricks of the job and eventually, in a few years, get the status of PM?

For example: He told me to follow training on PM, go to conferences in the next months...

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It may be controversial but I'm not sure trainings and conferences are the best way, but it definitely is the way which requires least effort from your PM.

First of all, you're in a pretty good position to learn about project management. You are a project leader so I suppose there are some tasks you're fully responsible for - you have to deal tasks, coordinate people and generally ensure the job is getting done. That's basically what PMs do but in a larger scale.

Second, something you'd probably make some good use of is full responsibility for some project. If that isn't possible in your current workplace look for other opportunities. The most obvious one is organizing an event for your friends (like vacations or a trip). Also you may consider joining some voluntary project which is happening around. Although they aren't very typical project you can learn a lot being a part of organizers of such events.

Three, I would consider joining other organization. I don't want to be unfair as I base on limited information you shared in a question, but think whether people in your workplace would support your chosen career path. Also that depends of course on project but at least some of projects done for European Union don't look like typical commercial projects so they may not be the place to learn.

And four, which is connected with the previous point, if you think about changing workplace I find small companies great places to learn. Not only is learning curve very narrow but also, pretty often, it's much easier to be promoted as the company grows.

  • 1
    Here is a link to a question here about Where Do You Volunteer as a Project Manager?. – jmort253 Mar 15 '11 at 7:58
  • considering your third paragraph, I'm working as a consultant (private insitution) at the European commission for about 6 months. So other projects will follow quite fast... – Kennethvr Mar 15 '11 at 8:02
  • That's another nice thing about your position - you will go through different projects, yet my guess is they would all be similar as they are done for the same institution. Anyway as long as you keep learning new things and you don't feel stuck in a single project it should be a good idea to stay where you are at least for some time. – Pawel Brodzinski Mar 15 '11 at 8:05
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If you're working as a project leader under a project manager, then it sounds like you're already on the right path towards leading your own project. My suggestion is to try to take on more work communicating the project updates to other team members and taking on communication tasks delegated by the project manager.

If it's a larger project with lots of communication paths, taking the weight off of the project manager by funneling some of the communications to him/her can not only make the project more successful and help out the project manager, but it also puts you in a position where you're doing more project management tasks.

I've heard many project managers on here say that they ended up in project management because they were doing a different job and just ended up doing project management-type work, almost as an accident.

Thus, the best way to get into a project management role is to start taking on more project management responsibilities.

  • In my case, I allready started in creating the planning in MS Project. what would you recommend as other responsibilities? – Kennethvr Mar 15 '11 at 8:04
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90% of what a project manager does is communication. Perception colors any and all communication.

You mention working on MS Project. This is a good and practical skill for many PM jobs, but it is not project management it is learning a tool that PMs use for one part of their job.

The good news is you are already doing something about becoming a better project manager, you are asking questions. Being a good project manager is a constant state of asking questions and learning.

To expand off of JMort's suggestion, you want to find ways to help the project communicate. - Offer to run the status meeting - Offer to compile the weekly status reports - If the project is large, suggest to your lead PM that you take a subset of the project and run it, reporting progress to him/her.

Then keep listening, keep asking questions and keep active in the PM community both locally and virtuall.

Best, Joel BC

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