One of the events I enjoy each year is the Masters; a premier golf tournament held in my home state of Georgia. I have carefully studied the masters of golf each time I have attended. What is it that allows golfers to reach the summit of the golf world?
I have also watched many project managers through the years. Some project managers outperform other project managers exponentially. These project managers have superior soft and hard skills. They are the masters of project management.
What are the traits of world class performers? World class performers practice hard, receive coaching, and sleep and rest.
World class performers practice in a consistent and disciplined approach. They put in many more hours than average performers. Their thinking is that they never arrive at the top of their game. They continuously learn new tools and techniques.
How can project managers learn more and improve performance? Here are some ideas:
World class performers seek feedback from the best coaches. You know the saying “Practice makes perfect.” Howard Hendricks says, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” What does he mean?
Let’s say that I hit the golf ball to the left a lot, sometimes into the rough or out of bounds. If I practice with the same swing mechanics, I will continue to hit the ball left. I get the same results. The swing pattern becomes permanent.
How do I adjust the swing? I need a coach. I need someone to watch what I am doing. The coach can help me determine corrections in my behavior. They can help track my progress and ensure that I don’t relapse into former habits.
Project managers need coaches too. Find a mentor or senior project manager. Ask them for feedback and suggestions. Listen to their observations and recommendations. Make appropriate changes in your behavior and attitude. Well-guided practice makes perfect.
Many studies suggest that one of the best ways to improve performance is to get more sleep and rest. Getting sleep and taking naps are some of the best ways to improve your concentration, engagement, and productivity at work. We cannot burn the candle at both ends.
Many people disregard this as nonsense. They think they can get by with much less sleep than others. The truth is that many people are sleep deprived and just don’t realize it.
I encourage you to increase your sleep by fifteen minute increments over several weeks. Shoot for a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night. You will gain energy as you recharge your sleep bank.
No matter if we are the masters of project management or a novice, we can get better. Improving our performance and value to our company come through practice, coaching, and sleep and rest. You, too, can join the ranks of those who wear the Green Jacket of project management.
Question: What other traits distinguish higher performing project managers from average project managers?[callout]Editors Note: This article was originally published in March, 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.[/callout]