Guiding Junior Project Managers – Helping Them Grow

Large projects require more than one hand at the helm in order to be successful. While you might head up the project as THE project manager, chances are good that you’re going to have one or more junior project managers working beneath you. Those junior PMs are more than just important assets; they can become valuable allies down the road. It’s in your best interests (and the best interests of your project) to ensure that you’re able to guide them through growth. What should you know?
Round Out Their Experience
One of the most important things you can do for your junior PMs is to ensure that you help them round out their experience. For instance, if one of your junior PMs has plenty of experience in other areas but is lacking in the realm of business operations, take the steps necessary to ensure that he or she is able to develop the necessary familiarity. Partner them with a business analyst, or team them up with another junior manager who understands the language of business. Do this for your junior project managers and you’ll find that they quickly develop stronger skills and greater confidence.
Invest in Ongoing Training
Another vital thing you can do for junior PMs is to invest in ongoing training for them. While they might have gone through basic PM training and earned their certificate, that’s often not enough for them to begin climbing the ladder toward the senior PM position. Company-specific training, management training, team management training and numerous other options exist. Sit down with the junior PM and determine what their weakest areas are. From that point, you can determine what ongoing training will be necessary.
Personal Help
If you find that one of your more promising junior project managers needs a more personal touch with training and growth, don’t be afraid to take them under your wing. This works well for developing protégés, but it can also be used to help those who you need in other areas of the project. Let them be your shadow. Explain management tips, techniques, tools and systems to them. Show them how your specific PM software works and what its abilities and limitations are.
Foster Ownership
In order for any project manager to be successful, there has to be a sense of ownership. You (or the junior PM in question) need to feel that it is YOUR project. That implies accountability for mishaps and problems, but it also implies developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs don’t fall back and assume that someone else will take care of a problem. They solve it. They don’t pawn responsibilities off on others. They do them. Fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in your junior project managers can have profound benefits down the road.
With the right care and the right steps, you can begin turning your junior project managers into potential senior management candidates. It only takes a little time and a helping hand, and you’ll see your projects succeed, and watch as those you’ve trained go on to achieve things on their own.