Scan the top news websites and it will not take long to find news about our “volatile global market.” While the overall tone of these economic editorials is typically negative, we tend to take a different approach. In times of volatility, there lies great opportunity for success through project management. Over the coming weeks, we will share some of our thoughts on navigating the sea change that can come with market volatility inside and outside the workplace. The most important: Focus on you.

1) Your Company Cuts Training. That is Not An Excuse.
As the economy becomes less sure for organizations around the world, one of the first departments to feel fiscal constraint is training and development. The more traditional “soft skills” classes are cut first, followed by core training. But, just because the organization has slowed down training investment does not mean that you are off the hook.

Remember, your skills matter. When the economy slows down, it becomes even more important to remain competitive, to take the time to sharpen your project management wits and shore up confidence that you are continually equipped to deliver results for your organization, even when the going is not so good. Bottom line: your demonstrated effort to keep your skills sharp is one direct indicator of your value.

2) Not all Training Pays. Focus on the Payoff
When you are looking for training opportunities, make sure you are looking for those that will most likely offer an immediate and appreciable impact on your own performance. Is the course going to help you do your job more efficiently when you return to work tomorrow? How about over the coming two weeks? If not, then you should keep looking.

As a project manager, your role is to deliver results on time and on budget. Taking the time out of your project schedule to get the training you need to perform can be one of the best investments you can make in yourself, and in turn your organization, but it had better be the right training. For example, even if you know you will need a Portfolio Management course sometime in your career, better to focus on the skills you need to sharpen to deliver your projects today, and to help you model the right project behavior for others on your team instead.

3) Sell Your Value
This can be one of the most challenging facets for project managers: it is your responsibility to sell yourself to your organization … continually. As companies centralize an increasing number of systems, and managers take on more direct reports, ensuring your record stays current can be a big — sometimes frustrating — job.

Document everything quickly. For every course you attend, document the outcome and submit it to your manager and your human resources or training and development office. If a form does not exist to allow you to do so, prepare a simple email outlining the course name and topic, the high-level objectives, and outcomes, along with a statement of how the course applied to your daily functions on the job.

Do you understand your own training system? If not, learn it! Even in times of constraint, resources exist to help employees get the training they need to stay sharp. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of your own training department, how to apply for training, how to petition for training, and how to find the internal funds you need to make sure you — and your team — are working at peak efficiency.