Developing New Project Managers

Project managers need to continuously improve their skills. That’s the idea behind PMI’s 60 PDUs per three year cycle. Should your organization do more?

Yes. Project managers should have a career ladder that includes a recommended set of classes/workshops, whether internal or external, that help them improve their skills. The organization should allow the time and funding necessary for project managers to pursue these workshops. In addition the organization must formally expect and recognize these actions through its annual performance review. Such performance reviews should include development plans crafted by the PM with guidance from his/her supervisor as well as the PMO or a more experienced PM if a PMO does not exist.

Project management requires a very extensive set of skills, from the mechanics of project management to the soft skills of leadership. Some of these skills can be acquired by participating in the local PMI chapter’s activities. Others need to be acquired through workshops (there are various organizations with extensive PM curriculums that could be considered). But, in all cases, PMs need to practice these skills and their organization must expect and inspect such practice. So, more than just a development plan, the PMs supervisor should, working with the PM, identify specific skills to be acquired/improved and monitor the PM as s/he develops them.

Unfortunately, this later part is not practiced much. Still, individual PMs can take the initiative and identify such skills, inform their supervisor, and regularly review their progress. Consider it “managing up” and training your manager.

Finally, consider having a recognition program that addresses this skill improvement goal. As indicated above it should be part of the annual performance review. But also consider having a more public forum, such as handing out certificates of completion or awards for applying a new skill in a group setting so that others see this training and application of skills as something to be expected.

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