Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two Skills Good for Everyone to Know

Project management and contracts are two great skills to be comfortable with and proficient at, no matter what field you are in. No need to do either of them full time as jobs- basic familiarity and some experience can help you at work and home.

Project management perspective is valuable in any setting. Clear objectives, plans, tactics, schedule, deliverables, assignments, tracking metrics and visuals are helpful whether done at a detailed level or quick approach- it's an organized way of thinking. Getting a certification requiring cost and time isn't necessary unless you want to do it as a profession. There are tons of books, websites, short courses and other resources out there that anyone can use to learn the basics. Knowing how to interface well with the concepts and practitioners is a good thing.

Contract skills are also useful because they come up so much in life. Whether you are lining up vendors, managing consultants or partnerships, procuring services, conducting property transactions or any other key transaction, there is likely to be a contract at some point. Being confident in your ability to review it, get the right inputs and ultimately nail down a solid result is a core business skill. Again this does not mean you must be a contracts specialist. Just take every chance you get to help or lead negotiating a contract. The more you do, the more the terms and process will be comfortable. It's a satisfying process- not always fun in the midst of the details, but getting to the end has a nice sense of closure. Learning how to calibrate- when to push, hold back, compromise- comes from experience. And online signing tools like Docusign have made the execution process less painful now- long overdue!

A colleague was deciding on two job offers recently: one in sales contracts, the other in project management/business development. He asked for my advice. I thought about each and what they might mean for his career path. I said I thought both were excellent business skills that would serve him well-  true nuts and bolts needs for most organizations so would help his marketability. He took the PM job, based on level, location and travel schedule.

A relative of mine recently lost his job and is weighing what to do to boost his credentials while job searching. He is going to do a project management course. We talked about this being a more portable skill than specialized certificates or industry-specific classes- better to open up a wider pool of job opportunities.

What other skills do you think are good solid notches on the belt? I'd add basic programming, but that's a longer topic for another post!

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