wWhen young project managers join your team, they are often eager to learn and tackle new challenges. As an expe- rienced project leader, you should be just as eager to develop new talent and coach them for success. To effectively groom those just starting out, experienced project managers
must strike a balance between teaching
the basics of project management and
preparing them for what to expect—
while simultaneously encouraging newcomers to think for themselves.
“The ideal environment to groom a
new project manager is in both a coaching and an on-the-job-training environment,” says Dallas, Texas, USA-based
Conrado Morlan, PMP, PgMP, Americas IT program delivery director at the
international shipping company DHL.
While seasoned veterans should
take the initiative to get their team
up to speed, the members themselves
must be willing to learn.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Time is a key ingredient when coaching young project mangers, yet during
a complicated project with looming
deadlines and changing scope, it may be
the hardest component to master.
If you’re a senior project professional, it’s easy to think you’re too
busy to spend time attending to others’ needs.
Milestones get missed, budgets are underestimated and scope creeps. Here are five ways to calm a
panicked team the first time it experiences a project gone awry:
1) DON’T PANIC. When such situations arise, the project manager, as team leader, must remain in
control, says Muhammed Arif, PMP, Lucky Textile Mills, Karachi, Pakistan. “Try not to show panic or
anxiety,” he says. “Getting too hyper or having a temper as a way to get problems resolved might
have a short-term benefit, but ultimately it will produce negativity and unhealthy relationships going
2) TAKE THE TIME TO REALLY UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE. “First determine the size and nature of
the beast you must fight,” says Jaycee Krüger, PMP, Greybeards Inc., Gauteng, South Africa. “Get a
good, factual perspective of how far the project is off track—even simply expressing the variance in
terms of percentage of the original plan.”
3) KEEP TEAM MEMBERS INFORMED. In the midst of what is perceived as a project crisis, the
project manager should share his or her strategy for getting the project back on track, advises
Sherolyn L. Sellers, PMP, Master Works Consulting Group, Tucker, Georgia, USA. This should be done,
if possible, in a face-to-face meeting with the entire team so that everyone is updated with the same
information at the same time.
4) ASK THEM FOR FEEDBACK. Allowing new project managers an opportunity to offer input on
solutions is an empowering move—just don’t get too hung up on the vocabulary. “They may not use
exact project management terminology but that’s okay—it’s the grooming period,” Mr. Arif says.
5) KEEP THE FAITH. There are no “perfect” projects, says Conrado Morlan, PMP, PgMP, DHL, Dallas,
Texas, USA. But by keeping the lines of communication open, each setback can be an invaluable
learning experience for young team members.