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Spreading the PM Knowledge

What I learned from my six-year-old daughter

~ By Brad Egeland

Young girl with arms around her father

Last night my six-year-old daughter was working on the whole love and marriage concept because our twenty-year-old daughter was recently married. She was afraid her mother and I were going to get married and move away, too…like her sister did.

I realised then that she didn't have a grasp of some of the basic family dynamics. But it was fun explaining them to her and to see the relief in her smile-and to field the very intelligent and challenging questions that followed. With knowledge came understanding and a thirst for deeper knowledge.

While thankfully challenging in a much different way, mentoring new project managers as they learn the ropes is interesting and rewarding.

No amount of certification, classroom work, and webinar viewing can take the place of that one-on-one discussion and side-by-side work with an experienced project manager, in my opinion.

In order to breed this communication and learning process in a mature PM infrastructure, a few processes need to be in place. Why?

It's simple, really-as my six year old reminded me. Knowledge brings understanding and a thirst for more of it.

The result? Engaged PMs, newbies and old pros alike, who build project success now and increasingly so as they grow and develop.

Want to empower your new PMs and spread the PM knowledge? Ensure these are in place:

A PMO Director Who Leads

I've said this before, and I'll say this a million times over. PMO directors need to spend their time leading PMs and the PMO, not leading projects.

With that type of PMO director in place, your PM infrastructure will become a learning and teaching environment. This, then, allows for the knowledge transfer to the more junior PMs in the organisation.

A Strong Base of Experienced PMs

A solid pool of experienced project managers is the best way to encourage the learning and mentoring process. Seeking certified PMs is one strategy toward success, but to really experience ongoing project successes, an organisation must focus on hiring the best qualified and most experimented PMs possible.

These PMs then share successes and failures with the less experienced project managers in the organisation.

Some Amount of Shadowing

The infrastructure that is set up to allow for some shadowing on projects - without double-charging your project clients for two PMs - fosters a rapid on-the-job learning process for new and junior project managers.

This will require adequate funding within the delivery organisation and PM infrastructure. But it's worth it. It ensures there is enough overlap of experienced PM coverage to enable this type of learning/teaching environment.

A Weekly Meeting Schedule That Enables the Learning Process

Finally – and this part is up to your PM leadership, such as the PMO director – you must have a weekly meeting schedule that fosters information dissemination and learning.

Learning Is the Key Goal Here

Ideally, that would be a 1-2 hour weekly PMO meeting with a 15-20 minute segment set aside during each meeting. During the meetings, the whole group – experienced PMs and newbies alike – goes through a piece of the methodology, PM process or template that they are expected to use…or something similar.

The director could even ask each week for thoughts on the next week's discussion topic and ask for an experienced volunteer among the PM ranks to lead that discussion or learning process.

Summary

The PMO or PM infrastructure that has been structured to allow for - and encourage - PM mentoring will be setting itself up nicely for long-term project success stories and patterns.

After all, as my six year old so easily reminded me, learning and knowledge make us better able to process, develop and grow-and ultimately, to succeed.

For our readers out there – what are your thoughts for best creating a mentoring and learning environment among your PM ranks? Do you have successful examples you can share? Or even thoughts on what hasn't worked in the past and should be avoided?


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