When businesses start to cut budgets, your project management office (PMO) and even your role within it may be in jeopardy. You do have the opportunity to protect your PMO role, and these five ways to take the initiative can help.

Whether you’re an entry-level business analyst or a high-up PMO leader, there should be room in your role to show that you can offer something more. Taking the initiative shows that you can make business improvements and don’t sit on your laurels, coasting along.

Taking the initiative can feel like a vague phrase, so we’re going to break it down and look at:

  • When is the right time to take the initiative in your PMO
  • Five ways you can take the initiative at work
  • Concrete examples to demonstrate how you can implement them

When should you take the initiative in your PMO?

Taking the initiative means going over and above what is expected and doing something more than you should be because you recognise a need. There is a time and a place for stepping outside of your normal role.

You should take the initiative to bring about changes and improvements when:

  • You’re comfortable completing the work you need to do. It could be frustrating for your boss or your teammates if you start doing something outside of your role while your day-to-day tasks are neglected.
  • You can see a clear issue that needs fixing. It’s important that you don’t just make work for yourself in order to look busy or more productive, so work on fixing things that need resolving and where you can actually add value.
  • You aren’t putting yourself at risk of burnout. Even if you have time in your day to take on something extra, make sure that you have the mental capacity to take on new deadlines and responsibilities. Burnout isn’t helpful for you, your team, or your job.

How to take the initiative in your PMO

When you’re in a good place at work and are ready to take the initiative, here are some solid ways you can do so within a PMO setting.

Take on extra tasks

Do you see a task that could help improve output or processes? If you think it will help your work or someone else’s, talk with your lead about adding it to your plate.

You can look at reporting another data point that you think has value, taking ownership of a process that has been causing difficulties, or coaching project workers to improve their outputs. Take on the work with a plan and make sure there is an end goal to demonstrate value.

Get involved

You can ask your leaders, stakeholders, and project managers if you can be involved in meetings and workshops that don’t necessarily fall into your scope of work. This is a useful way to become more aware of the business over and above your normal work.

Be aware of the conversations going on in the business and around projects, and ask to be involved. You can also suggest going to virtual or in-person conferences and start to build an external network.

Seek feedback

There will always be ways that you can improve at work. Sometimes it can be hard to see how and where to make changes, but your colleagues can have valuable suggestions.

Actively seeking feedback is a great way to work on yourself and the work that you do. This can be in an informal setting with a chat at your desk about self-improvement to a more formal set of meetings, which may be more appropriate if you’re a manager or leader.

Present ideas

You can’t always make improvements to processes or activities yourself, but you can make positive and constructive suggestions.

When you see an issue that needs fixing, spend some time analysing the problem and potential solutions. Present these in a quick report with a clear action plan, and you will be seen as someone who focuses on answers rather than problems.

Pick up the slack

There will always be a time when someone can’t function at their best. When you see someone on your team struggling, it can show great initiative to offer them practical support.

Picking up the slack for someone who is having short-term issues shows that you’re a team player and can be relied upon. Be sure that you’re not covering up wider problems for the person, though.

Taking the initiative

Having the initiative to go fix things when they’re broken or finding ways to improve yourself is a great way to show you’re valuable in your role and protect you from potential job cuts in your PMO.