3 Steps to get the best projects to work on

I never seem to get the great projects. I feel like I’m always assigned boring tasks that no one else wants to do. What can I do to help my chances of working on the good stuff?

Thanks for sending me your question and I hope my answer is of value to you. I’m going to divide my answers into three distinct steps: a self assessment, observations of others, and a gap analysis.

Before moving to this three step answer, there is one underlying question that you must ask yourself. Are there any projects within your department that you think you would find exciting or do you consider all department projects to be boring and uninteresting? The reason I’m asking you this question up front is that if there are no projects within your department that you find engaging and challenging, perhaps you are working in the wrong place. Regarding a self assessment, you need to do some soul searching and consider the following questions, and questions like them, to see if you can surmise why you are not getting to work on the projects you would like. When answering these questions, try to be objective, not emotional. The more objectively you answer these questions, the more insight you will gain toward attaining your desired assignments.

1. Why do you think the projects you want are being given to other people? 2. Do you have the right skills to take on these projects? 3. Do you have enough experience to take on these projects? 4. Do you think your boss has confidence that you can complete the tasks? If yes, then why? If no, then why not? 5. Do you think you can do as good a job on the projects as the other people working on your team? If yes, then why? If no, then why not? 6. Have you had a discussion with your manager regarding the types of projects you would like to work on? How did he/she respond to your request? Did he/she give you any specific advice on what to do to position yourself for these projects? If yes, did you follow his/her advice?

Regarding the observation of others, move your focus from an analysis of you, to an analysis of others. Like the last set of questions, it is very important that you be objective, not emotional. Thoughts such as “She gets the best projects because she’s lucky” or “He gets the best projects only because he kisses the boss’s butt” will provide you with no value. Answer these questions based on skill set, experience, office relationships, and other measurable factors. 1. Who specifically is getting the projects you hoped to get? 2. Why do you think they are getting the projects over you from a skill set perspective? 3. Why do you think they are getting the projects over you from an experience perspective? 4. Why do you think they are getting the projects over you from on office politics perspective? 5. What other objective and measurable factors are causing others to get the great projects rather than you?

Regarding a gap analysis, I have two not-so-simple and very important questions for you to contemplate.

1. Based on your personal self-assessment, what skills should you improve, experiences should you seek out, and political steps should you take? 2. Based on your observation of others, what should you do that they are doing?

In closing, this type of analysis can be of value to you in many areas of work and in many areas of life. First, don’t underestimate the true value of personal circumspection. A deep and realistic assessment of your skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and interests combined with an understanding of how others think of you is a very powerful asset when navigating your future career. Regarding an understanding of others, this is a huge advantage in all forms of competition, from who gets the best projects to who gets promoted.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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