The benefits of ongoing education within the project office are numerous. Savvy PMP®s know that the learning never stops, and they’re always interested in finding better ways to gain new expertise. Some skills and disciplines, though, are more difficult to teach than others.
If you want to cultivate an advanced project management skill, you may need to look beyond a standard course guide. But innovative project management training is available for those who are willing to go the extra mile.
Negotiation skills. The fundamentals negotiating are covered by any number of available training courses, giving PMP®s an excellent base on which to build. However, becoming a good negotiator often requires hands-on time, a deeper look at effective strategies, and sometimes even a better understanding of how your particular organization approaches the art of negotiation. Consider finding a niche trainer who emphasizes real-world scenarios and role playing as part of their classes, as these may be more beneficial than a typical classroom format. This is especially true if you’re a PMP® who is likely to be negotiating with uncommonly difficult or belligerent individuals, or if negotiations are regularly conducted in a forum that’s open to the public. Situation-focused training may provide you with greater confidence under pressure.
Communication skills. The ability to communicate well—succinctly, clearly, concisely—is paramount for a PMP®. This holds true for project team members who are tasked with specific communication responsibilities for the Project Team as well as those whose communications are less formal. One key to finding the right type of education is to identify where you may have the most communication challenges. Are you uncomfortable speaking to crowds? Do your written skills need a boost? Will you be expected to communicate very technical information to non-technical stakeholders? If a training course targeted to your concerns isn’t available in your area, an experienced instructor can likely tailor one or more sessions to your specific needs. Be sure to begin by outlining the hurdles you want to overcome so they can develop a curriculum that’s right for you.
Leadership skills. There are so many complementary skills supporting the leadership competency that many PMP®s find standard training courses to be useful early in their careers but perhaps too generic as their expertise grows. If you’re ready to take your leadership capabilities to the next level, you may find the coaching of an experienced mentor to be more helpful than traditional instruction. To get the most out of the relationship, look for a mentor with significant expertise in leading PMP®s (rather than a mentor whose leadership background is in a different discipline or who has focused on leading project activities rather than individuals). Project team members are typically high performing and they tend to set very demanding expectations for themselves. A mentor who has led these self-driven professionals will be able to offer insight on how to bring them together as a team, how to motivate them, how to coach them, and how to focus their energies.
Facilitation skills. PMP®s are regularly called on to be facilitators, from keeping team meetings on track to working through complex project planning discussions with stakeholders. It’s a skill that may be difficult to find at a more advanced level, as it’s commonly combined with other skills under a broader training umbrella. Fortunately, there are consultants and vendors out there who not only specialize in facilitation, some also offer highly targeted instruction in facilitation techniques. Ideally, you’ll want to partner with a trainer experienced in facilitating in an environment similar to yours, so they’re able to mirror the situations and challenges you’re likely to face.