Mentoring and project managers – get the best out of a team

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Project management isn’t just based on cost and analysis and dealing with stakeholders and your existing team – you also need to integrate new employees, which is where mentoring can help.

It is only natural to feel resources are continually stretched in this fast paced, every changing industry sector but allocating additional time to a new employee and ensuring they know what they are doing from the get-go will pay dividends in the long run in terms of time and money. After all; your leadership is what influences your team to achieve the objectives of a successful project. So, although it can be tempting to throw them in at the deep end; nurturing a team member to ensure they truly fit into your team is the most sensible way to go. But how do you go about doing this?

The best solution is often found when you are undertaking training for PMs and your course teaches invaluable skills for you to lead a new team member down the road to success (both theirs and yours). The 3 main pointers of this instruction are:

Getting to know them

You will struggle to lead any team member and especially a new one if you don’t take the time to know them as a person and understand what makes them “tick”. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses means you can play to their strengths and address any training needs necessary to improve their skill set as they go. There are plenty of ways mentoring can help and plenty of courses that could help to improve a team member’s project management skills.

Finding out what their aspirations are and establishing a sense of trust and respect so that they will confide in you about any issues will go a long way to establishing an effective working relationship that will only serve to strengthen your team.

Patience and interpersonal skills

A new team member will be more than willing to engage with you when they feel as though you have a vested interest in them so communicate, communicate, communicate! It is easy to forget that a new staff member will not have an immediate understanding of the project at hand so making expectations and responsibilities clear will allow you to keep a mindful eye on their progress.

It is also important to give praise for a new team member’s achievement but don’t be afraid to nip any issues in the bud with constructive criticism. Remember that a strong leader is more effective than being everyone’s best friend.

Leading by example

The most important thing is to be able to enjoy getting the best out of every member of your team – project management is all about delivering results and mentoring can help with that.

You can become the best project manager you can be by undertaking project management courses which will teach you the importance of being a good role model for your new employee – after all – it is what you do and say that will help to shape the attitudes and behaviours of your project management team. If you want them to be a dream team they need to follow your example.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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