Are Operations more Fun than Project Management? Yes and No!

Entry level positions in global operating companies always consist of operational activities. The good ol’ roll-up-your-sleeves stuff. The prove yourself and work your way up positions. Scanning papers, creating PowerPoint presentations, or hours of keying in information in Excel or ERP systems, etc. Also known as the monkey job.

After a couple years, when you understand the basics, know the company, and very important – the right people in the company – it will be time to progress to a management job. You can move into the role of people manager or perhaps project manager – as long as it does not involve the operations! This is what you will think at least after doing the monkey job for a couple of years.

Do you ever think: Oh I wish it would be my time to leave those operations finally behind me and get a leading, managing role? Just getting work done through others as people manager or maybe become a project manager and drive high-profile projects. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Well, let me then tell you some truth!

Sure, getting into a project management role and adding this experience to you CV is great. Adding a Lean Six Sigma Belt to your LinkedIn will definitely increase your market value and YES you will get you a good pay grade. Of course, managing people will also gain you experience and challenge you in many ways. However, you will miss operations. Trust me. No matter which successful leader you will ask, they will miss the operations to some extent. Sometimes they do not realize it immediately. But WE ALL DO.

Let me tell you why!

Do you know that feeling when you see someone clean a dirty wall with a power washer? Centimeter for centimeter? Do you also just keep watching because it relaxes you? Or have you mowed or seen someone mowing the grass? The direct result of the work is what is fascinating here. I could watch it for hours. That element of getting direct result of your work is so satisfying.

This, is what you will miss without operations. Projects or managing people will pay off, but only in the long run. IF you can, combine your management role always with at least some small part of operations and never leave operational activities fully behind you. It will be the energy that keeps you going and will get you through the long boring meetings. It will give you satisfaction immediately rather than the many hours that will go into projects with deadlines – and thus results of your work – being far FAR away.

Keep this in mind – with regards from your top executive friends – that will never go back to these operations! This is why we blog 😉

Good luck, keep it in mind and keep moving up!

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