It was May when I started the new position. The company was a pretty neat place to work. There were about 70 of us and the first round of funding had just been approved. We were doing work for one enormous client and a number of smaller clients. The large client had a multi-year contract so the immediate future looked promising. I came on as a Project Manager with my PMP certification. In no time at all the company realized it needed to set up a PMO and I was asked to head up that group.
I was thrilled. I could put to use what I had learned throughout my PMP certification process, help my colleagues, and help the company. We went to work right away in managing the existing projects and implementing processes that would make each subsequent project that much easier to complete.
The days, weeks, and months flew by. In no time at all, we were coming up to the end of the year. There were certain goals, objectives, and targets the company had set out to meet. It was apparent that by the end of the year meeting some of these targets wouldn’t be possible. There just wasn’t enough time. We would hit some goals, come close to others, and substantially miss a few.
The President of the company rounded the troops up for a company meeting one afternoon. We all crowded into the biggest room in the building and listened to him talk. He talked to us about finishing the year strong.
At the time, I didn’t know what he was meaning about finishing the year strong. We hadn’t met our objectives and there wasn’t any possible way to meet them by the end of the year. I looked at the year as a failure…he didn’t.
He acknowledged the fact that we had not met all of our goals. But, he also addressed the fact that we had done some amazing work throughout the year that pushed us a long way in the right direction.
There were other things that were accomplished that weren’t on the original docket. Many objectives were 80% – 90% complete and could be wrapped up the first part of the following year. He summed up by saying that while the year was not a perfect year, it was nonetheless a good year.
As a relatively new PMP at the time, I guess I was looking for more of the perfect year. I wanted everything to have been completed as originally planned. I wanted to understand why everything wasn’t done and work on accountability with the team. I wanted to finish perfect, not finish strong.
But, years have gone by and I’ve mellowed. I learned there is much wisdom in what the President of the company was saying. I now offer similar advice to project managers that just earned their PMP or are new to the profession.
Why is it important to finish strong? Why is it important to not just throw in the towel if you know you aren’t going to meet your objectives 100%? Why is it important to keep pushing on to the best of your ability as a PMP?
4 Reasons Why You Should Finish Strong as a PMP
#1. 80% is better than 50%: Yep, pretty basic math. But, the truth is that 80% is better than 50%, 90% is better than 60%, and even 20% is better than 0%.
We all have goals that we are working on and circumstances may get in the way of moving forward as fast as we would like. But, rather than stopping dead in our tracks as a PMP it is better to push forward and at least accomplish something. Something is better than nothing. This principle applies toward anything, including setting high goals.
You’ll hear people scoff when stretch goals are set for the team to accomplish. “We’ll never be able to get that much done in this amount of time”, or “We’ll never reach that Sales figure.
Are they crazy?” Not really. A general direction has been set and one that will get everyone going on the same path. The team that is working together to finish strong will get much more done than just the team that is working together.
#2. Trying is Better than Quitting: What’s the alternative to not finishing strong? Quitting. That’s right. It means you’ve given up as a PMP and resigned yourself to the fact that there’s nothing more you can do to help improve the situation. You’ve made the decision to sit back, take your foot off the gas pedal, and let the momentum of the car take you as far as it will before you have to pull off on the shoulder of the road and wait for someone to pick you up.
That’s not your attitude as a PMP. Think about all the prep work, studying, and work that you put in to earn your PMP certification. You tried anything and everything you could to make sure you would pass.
It’s the same thing with finishing strong. Don’t quit. Look at different ways, methods, and options you can use in order to get as far as you can toward meeting your goals.
#3. Your Fortitude is Increased: Pushing on despite adversity or less than ideal circumstances makes you a stronger PMP project manager. Others (both on and off your team) will watch how you deal with adversity and follow your example.
Someone needs to be at the front leading the way when the times get rough. Every challenge you successfully push through as a PMP project manager adds one more arrow to your quiver of project management successes. The next time you are faced with a similar situation you will know exactly what needs to be done in order to get through it.
#4. Separates the Wheat from the Chaff: Your attitude as a PMP project manager means everything. We all know and have worked with people that have negative and pessimistic attitudes. What a drag. Everything is miserable. There’s never a silver lining to any cloud and the end of the world is always right around the corner.
Your attitude as a PMP project manager who’s geared up to finish strong needs to positive as well as encouraging and optimistic. We’re not saying you should be unrealistic or lose touch with reality. Rather, deal with circumstances head-on and push things ahead as far as you can in order to make the most progress possible.
It is true that when I heard the President of the company I worked for saying we needed to “finish strong”, I rolled my eyes a bit. “Finish strong”, I scoffed under my breath. “You mean fail strongly”, I said to myself.
Since then, I’ve learned he was on to something. It’s important for us to continue to do whatever it takes to make whatever situation we are in that much better. There’s always room for improvement and you are in an ideal place as a PMP project manager to make that happen!