Six Professional Guidelines I Follow

Over the years, I've distilled a set of guidelines that have significantly shaped my professional journey. While my undergraduate degree didn't focus on business—unlike my graduate degree, which did—these principles were forged through real-world experiences rather than classroom theory. Here are the six cornerstone rules that guide my approach to work, split between immediate and long-term strategies.

First if all, be a truth teller. This doesn’t mean being offensive, by any means. Diplomacy is often required. But in project management it does no good for the project manager to keep issues and concerns quiet. This can be especially true where the budget is concerned. No one ever wants to admit that there’s a risk (or reality!) of going over budget, but without that information the business can’t make a decision about whether to continue. 

Second, think slow and act fast. Spend as much time in planning as is needed. Once the project starts it’s a bad idea to still be considering things. This can be difficult to do depending on the company and project. In civil engineering projects, politicians often want “shovels in the ground” as soon as possible for the public’s sake. The same can go for IT projects, where company executives want results as soon as possible, and question the “delay” of planning. Careful planning, however, can actually make the project once executed move more quickly than it would otherwise, especially if change requests and rework can be avoided this way.

Third, the mantra of "document everything" has proven invaluable. This practice serves two primary purposes: risk mitigation and readiness. To elaborate, "Cover Your Ass" (CYA), though crudely put, is essential in a professional setting where mutual trust might not always be reliable. For example, after any verbal directive from a supervisor, I make it a practice to send a summarizing email. This not only confirms my understanding but also provides a documented trail for future reference. Additionally, keeping comprehensive meeting notes and daily summaries of project statuses—whether publicly in a tool like Confluence or privately in a work journal—ensures that every decision and action is recorded.

The secondary aim of thorough documentation is preparation. My tenure at a start-up taught me this when I was tasked with standardizing incoming content into a searchable format on our website. I developed a detailed guide explaining the processing of each content type. This documentation proved its worth when an emergency family situation pulled me away from work unexpectedly. I directed my boss to the guide, and despite his struggles with the task, he acknowledged the quality and utility of the instructions. This incident highlighted that while my role could be well-documented, the complexity and value I brought to it were not easily replicated.

Following closely is my fourth guideline: "use your resources wisely." Instead of immediately seeking help, I allot myself 10 to 15 minutes to resolve issues using available documentation. This habit minimizes disruptions and leverages the groundwork laid by my meticulous documentation practice. By linking to other resources within my Confluence pages, I enhance accessibility and efficiency, both for myself and my colleagues.

Fifth, I prioritize continuous learning. Staying abreast of industry trends and expanding my skills through certifications and education has been a cornerstone of my professional development. I hold certifications like Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), and ITIL-F, and pursued a graduate degree in Management with a concentration in Project Management. This commitment to education has deepened my expertise and made me a more competent and adaptable professional.

Sixth, the cultivation of strong relationships is critical. Building a robust network both within and beyond my workplace has offered support, insight, and numerous opportunities. The strength of these connections has been especially beneficial during times of unemployment, directly leading to new job opportunities on several occasions. My decision to remain in the New York and New Jersey area is largely influenced by the strong professional ties I have here.

In conclusion, these six guidelines—tell the truth, think slow and act fast, documenting everything, utilizing resources efficiently, committing to continuous learning, and cultivating strong relationships—have not only shaped my career path but have also prepared me to navigate its challenges effectively. By adhering to these principles, I have enhanced my professional growth and resilience, readying myself for whatever the future holds.

Popular posts from this blog

Changing Jobs Every Two Years

The Journey to Agile Transformation: A Scrum-Based Approach

Project Management in Action: Enhancing Communities through Projetos Sociais Estação Vida and Uberlandia Development Initiatives