Advice for Junior Project Managers

One passion of mine is supporting Junior PMs / Project Coordinators in developing their skills and experience in becoming a better, stronger Project Manager. This has also been a question that I’ve received a lot over email: How can I become a better PM? How can I become respected in my communications/time management / stress levels? During this blog post, I wanted to address this with a few hints that might help you if you find yourself in this situation.

  1. Look at your communication style/ how you are addressing teams:
    1. One common trait I’ve seen is addressing people improperly. This could be being too informal or using inappropriate language in emails/discussions. If you are working with a Junior, do not assume that they realise that their language may not be appropriate.
      1. Examples for inappropriate language could be: Dear Friend, Dear Expert, Oi Oi!, Hello beautiful.
      2. Are you being clear in your emails/communication? This is important. One thing that I encourage our Juniors to do is to review each email they send and ask themselves the following:
        1. Am I sending this email to the right people?
        2. Are the objective, summary and actions clearly defined?
        3. Are you being clear in what you’re saying/ trying to explain?
  2. Professional conduct during meetings:
    1. Are you attending meetings on time? Are you being respectful of the attendees in the meeting? Are you moderating the meeting effectively?
      1. One thing that is important to realise about a meeting is that you are using precious time of your team so make sure that you are not wasting time. How do you make the meeting efficient? You need to do the following:
        1. Have a clear agenda. Be a strong moderator and stop discussions when they are going off track.Keep a list of minutes/actions and follow up accordingly
  3. Professional conduct with your team:
    1. Are you talking to your team in an appropriate manner? Are you using the right language towards your team? There is a fine line between professional conduct and chats and inappropriate comments that are not fit for the workplace. If you are unsure, you can always ask a mentor/senior colleague for advice
      1. An example from the start of my career was having a discussion with several colleagues and they were talking about getting drunk after work and coming into work with a hangover. This was overheard by a Senior Manager who did use this during performance discussions.
      2. Another example is using work communication devices for personal/inappropriate discussions. Sharing pictures of your pet is fine but sharing pictures of your privates is not!
  4. Don’t sweat it over the small things!
    1. As a Project Manager you need to maintain the high level overview of the project and not get bogged down in details.
    2. Stress Management is key to becoming a successful Project Manager. I often say to my team: Let me take on the stress/ the problem and let’s work together on a solution.
    3. I always find trying to write ‘summary’ emails on a subject very helpful to make sure that I can adequately portray a status to Management as well as give enough details to the team/customer to manage expectations/ current status
    4. One thing that I recommend to our Juniors is that they imagine themselves as the “Calm in the storm” for their team members and if everyone is stressing out about everything, the best you can do is remain level headed and calm.
  1. Understand/ learn how to Time Manage
    1. Successful time management is key to becoming a successful Project Management but also to having a successful career. If you are struggling with your time management or find yourself regularly working during the evenings and weekends, then I’d recommend doing a Time Management course and working through strategies that will help you manage your time more effectively.
    2. Some ideas for effective time manage are:
      1. Make an action list for the next day before you leave work for the day so that you know what you need to do
      2. Don’t check your emails too often! This can be counterproductive!
      3. Put ‘reminders’ on emails that you need to follow up on so that you don’t forget important emails.
      4. Create action lists for the coming day(s), weeks. Apps like: To-doist can help.

One thing that I remind our Juniors, is that your role as Project Manager means that you respect your team enough to create a successful working environment for them and learning from your mistakes/ issues that you encounter. Every project, every day is a learning opportunity that you can choose to learn from or ignore.

If you’d like to have more tips for developing as a Junior Project Manager or more advice, please feel free to email/tweet me!

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