Advice for Junior Project Managers – Part 2

In this blog post, I will be continuing on from last week’s post for advice for Junior Project Managers and providing advice and guidance about how to develop as a Project Manager. I’ve recently been coaching a Junior Project Manager in their development path and this series of posts will cover some of the topics that we are covering during our coaching sessions.

If you have any coaching questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

Cultural Sensitivity:
In today’s global environment of Project Management, there is such a demand to understand and be respectful of your teams/organisations cultural sensitivity. Ignoring this can cause a lot of issues not only within your team but with your ability to lead a successful project.

To understand cultural sensitivity, it can be useful to understand not only the country that you’re working in but also where the team members are from/where they have been. I like to ask this in the first introduction meetings so that I can make a list of the different ‘elements’ that the team consists of and use this to adjust my Management style.

It can also help to participate in a cultural training to fully understand how to work with people that are not from your ‘home’ culture.

Escalate: How/When/What is appropriate?
This is a really common problem that I’ve seen with less experienced Project Managers and it’s something that can take a little time to understand and master.

  • When do you escalate?
  • What is considered worthy of escalating?
  • What is the best way to escalate?

All of these questions are so important to understand for your individual situation and circumstance and to know what works best. I would recommend talking to your more experienced colleagues for how they would handle a situation or discuss with your mentor. Here are some real life examples:

Escalation Situation: You are running into a delay in the project and you have not yet told your stakeholders. You are not aware of the all of the facts of the situation but all you know is that you’re delayed. How do you handle this? What do you do?

During our coaching session we went through this example and worked out the step by step process for how to handle the escalation and why you need to present your ‘plan’ to the stakeholders and explain the current situation, what you are going to do next and what you need from them for support.

Escalating in general can be a difficult area to get right as it can depend on the project, the team and the organisation for what is considered appropriate. One thing is clear; the more you escalate (unless needed), the less effective it becomes as a tool to get Management support so do it wisely.

How to work in a project/ team:

This is another area which a lot of Junior Project Managers struggle in. How do you work effectively and successfully in a team? How do you become a leader? This is one area where I encourage training and development to take a prominent role. If you are a Junior Project Manager; I’d be asking you: What sort of leader do you want to be? What makes a good leader for you? Then we’d be following up on what skills a good leader needs to be a success? Is it active listening? is it organisational? Knowing what makes a good leader and then looking at your own development will allow you to know what you need to improve on to become the type of leader that you want in a project.

Generally speaking, working in a project is not just about the tasks required to complete the project. It’s more about how you can get a group of people to work together efficiently to deliver the end goal of the project. Knowing how to do this and what is necessary to enable to the team to perform, will be an integral element to your project success.

Communicating with others:

This is another fine art that needs to be worked on and one that will take time to perfect. During my coaching sessions, I recommend that they read through their email/presentation and ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are you being clear who the email/presentation is aimed towards (rather than a generic: “Hello”, “Howdy”, “Dear Experts” etc.)
  • Is it clear what you’re asking/trying to say?
  • Are actions clearly stated/indicated?
  • Is your email SMART?
  • Are you being clear/direct in what you are trying to say (as opposed to writing an essay when a bullet list could suffice).

This has been the quickest ‘win’ for many Project Managers that I speak to as learning how to effectively communicate and present a status gives them the advantage in Project meetings and discussions.

To be able to support in this, I’ve recommended courses on Presentation delivery, effective communications and communication delivery as part of general development plans to be able to support the Project Manager in learning how to improve their communication style.

One thing to remember about effective communication is being aware of what language you are using and who the communication is going to. One thing that I’ve had to remind native speakers is to be aware of the slang that they are using and how it might not be understood, as well as on the other side: not relying on online translators to deliver the ‘correct’ message.

Conclusion:

Having a good foundation as a Project Manager will give you the best start to your development as a successful Project Manager. When looking at your own development, I recommend being critical about how you are performing (… in reality and not just within your perception), where your weaknesses are and what you need to be a success.

Are you a Junior Project Manager? Do you agree with the comments above?

One comment

  1. Great blog Em! Clear and to the point.

    I wonder if as a Junior Project Manager, I should think about the reasons I became a PM in the first place? Why am I doing this job? Is it what I wanted? Perhaps I’m an “accidental” PM!

    Do I want to manage projects for the next 20 or 30 years or what is my end-goal?

    I hope you can advise me…

    Dave from the colonies.

    Like

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