Coaching and Mentoring PMs

In the last couple of write ups I’ve mentioned the need for coaching and mentoring of project managers. How does this work?

It could be as simple as having an experienced project manager available for less experienced PMs to come talk to. This person needs to be viewed as recognized as an expert and a person who is willing to spend time with other PMs helping them. But is this enough?

In many organizations asking for help is viewed as a sign of weakness. Each individual needs to be viewed as doing an outstanding job or s/he will be in trouble when evaluations come around. How do you then provide mentoring and coaching opportunities? One approach is to make it mandatory that each project manager discuss his/her project with another, more experienced PM. In this way it is something that everyone needs to do. Another way is to define a formal coaching program, where less experienced PMs are assigned a more experienced PM. A third approach is to create discussion forums where PMs talk about their projects and challenges. An experienced PM could initiate the discussion by reviewing his/her own project and presenting the challenges being confronted. In this way it because acceptable to discuss these challenges.

There are more coaching opportunities. For example, the organization could identify a leadership program that includes a 360 degree assessment and personalized coaching based on the results and the individual’s desired to improve. I coach executives and middle managers in such a program through Delta Leadership, Inc, a company formed by a couple professors from Duke University Fuqua School of Business to support their Six Domains of Leadership program. There are other programs available. The goal of these programs is to get leaders to see how others see them, determine the best approaches to improve as leaders, and then take the necessary actions.

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