Most project management professionals actively nurture their careers—learning new skills, increasing their base of knowledge, expanding their areas of expertise, and tackling projects that challenge them. Employers that take career development seriously tend to create and attract top-level, high-achieving PMP®s. Unfortunately, there are still project offices out there that underestimate the importance of supporting their employees’ career growth ambitions. If any of these warning flags sound familiar, it might be time your PMO revisited its career development program.
1 – Junior-level project management professionals don’t stick around long. Promising employees sometimes move on to new opportunities, but if your PMO’s brightest rising stars are constantly finding greener pastures elsewhere, that’s a real problem. Motivated PMP®s need assurance that your project office takes their career development objectives seriously.
2 – None of your junior-level team members are involved in a mentoring program. Receiving guidance from more experienced PMP®s, even when done informally, is one of the fundamental components of career development. Project management training is crucial but it doesn’t replace the support of a seasoned mentor. Without a mentor to share real-world knowledge and provide advice, your newer professionals will encounter more challenges in trying to move their careers forward.
3 – Training is the first thing to be cut when a budget crunch hits. Lean financial times are always a challenge, but if training gets the axe before anything else that’s probably an indication of a wider lack of commitment to career growth and advancement.
4 – Long-term employees aren’t transferring their knowledge before they leave. PMP®s further down the chain of command should be jumping at the chance to glean wisdom from more experienced team members. If this process isn’t happening every day—not to mention when a long-time employee announces their departure—there’s a good chance team members don’t feel there are enough growth opportunities within the project office to make it worth their while to seek out knowledge on their own.
5 – Participation in industry groups is limited to one or two top-level PMP®s. Association dues are often expensive, prompting PMOs to spring for only a few coveted memberships for their most senior professionals. This leaves newer PMP®s in the cold, causing them to miss out on some great growth opportunities that could bring new expertise and energy to your project office.
6 – Interns don’t apply for open positions. If interns are given opportunities to test out new skills and feel they will be offered increasingly complex projects as their expertise grows, they’ll flock to open positions. When you see them avoiding the chance to join the PMO as a regular employee, that’s a red flag.
7 – Positions in the PMO don’t have defined paths for advancement. Every PMP® deserves a roadmap that shows where their hard work is taking them, and if your project office doesn’t make the effort to provide one it’s just another reason to seek new challenges elsewhere. It’s a crucial factor in many employment decisions—unless you offer a path for advancement, junior-level PMP®s may be concerned the selection process for vacancies is preferential or biased, while more seasoned project professionals will probably worry they’ve reached the top of what your organization can offer them.
8 – Team members engaged in ongoing education aren’t rewarded for it. Whether it’s pursuing an MBA or taking the initiative to complete a certification program, ongoing education benefits the employee as well as the organization. But if the only thing the employee receives for their expanded skill set is less sleep and a plaque to hang on the wall, they’re likely to seek advancement in the form of more rewarding projects with a new employer.