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Why experienced project managers should still listen to their juniors

In project management, experience counts for a lot. No matter how well qualified you are to do your job, you can’t get away from the fact that 90 per cent of PM skills are learned on the job, not in a classroom. New or younger project managers should, therefore, be open to learning from their older, more experienced peers and taking advice when it is handed out to help them develop their skills.

However, that’s not the whole story. Younger project managers come furnished with their own sets of life skills and attributes, which some older project managers might be able to benefit from too. Here are just a few reasons that even the most senior project manager should still keep an open mind around young project managers, as there are a few things they could be learning about too.

  1. Social communication tipsGeneration Y have grown up with social media all around them, so if you’ve got a young project manager in your organisation, tap them up for the knowledge on the whole networking shenanigans. They not only know how to communicate effectively in just 140 characters or less, they do it many times every day, probably while you’re still trying to remember your Facebook password.Learn from this fast paced communications style and think about how it can be used within the team to speed up knowledge transfer and collaborative working. It might take time to get used to, but it’s got to be better than lengthy emails back and forth.
  2. How to make the most of apps and toolsOlder project managers might be more familiar with ordering software online and waiting for the discs to arrive before they can use it, but that’s not the way of the world any more. Note how your younger project management colleague simply searches for online tools or apps and starts using them right away.These younger PM’s have a new way of thinking when it comes to productivity, and will always be on the lookout for new tools and technology to make life easier. Keep an open mind and be prepared to try out new ways to doing things in order to make the most of this trait.
  3. Trust in the work ethicThe days of sitting at a desk from nine to five are seriously numbered. Young people are used to doing things under their own steam, and are happy to work all hours and from a variety of locations. The ‘always on’ communications they have grown up with makes anywhere their office, whether that’s on the train, in a coffee shop or in bed.To get along well with a young project manager, it is important for the more experienced PM’s to give them a good degree of autonomy. Let them embrace a flexible schedule, and put trust in their work ethic that they will get the job done, no matter what.Younger project managers certainly have a lot to learn from their peers, but just occasionally senior PM’s need to remember that they are still on a learning curve too.


About MS

The author is a freelance consultant with many years experience in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects and managing outsourced project teams.

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