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How to Become a Project Manager: Can You Learn by Watching?

So you want to be a project manager–congratulations! How do you learn all of the necessary skills for this new role of responsibility? In a post for PM Hut, Margaret Cato-Smith elaborates on one simple way to learn how to be the picturesque project manager: “Watch, analyze, and learn.”

The Other Way to Learn Project Management

It is undeniable that school has a lot to offer in the realm of education, but that is not the only option to learn a new skill. In fact, some even argue that direct experience is the better route to travel down. Cato-Smith endorses the “watch, analyze, and learn” strategy because there is not always an opportunity to monopolize on direct experience.

In order for this strategy to be successful, you will need to observe a project manager. There are a multitude of projects occurring every day in any given business, so it should be rather simple to observe a project manager at work. Cato-Smith also suggests having a cup of coffee to discuss projects as well.

While observing the project you can take notice to the simple conversations that will indicate if the project is going well or not. Additionally, you could notice if the team is meshing well together or if there is an opportunity to strengthen their working relationships.

Always keep in mind that observation is not your sole job. You have preexisting responsibilities and a reputation to uphold. You need to continue to work on whatever your current role in the company is. You should also stray away from the petty “gossip” of the group, no matter how juicy it seems to be.

If you think you have ideas to offer, proceed with caution. You are not a member of this team and do not want to step on anyone’s toes. In any case, when properly conducted, the “watch, analyze, and learn” strategy can provide valuable insights when direct opportunities for experience are in short supply.

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About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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