Rapid change is everywhere these days. Often untested but talented people are thrown into the limelight. They can succeed or fail. The latter is regrettable, preventable and can be recovered from with great effort. The former is the desired result and lays the foundation for a career with great confidence and success!
Technology, competition, clients and a company’s financial goals continue to require rapid change. Successful change requires managers with strong project management skills. Sometimes leaders with character, integrity, a good line management track record and recognized potential are asked to step into significant project management roles with little experience. These skilled people have to grow into their new roles, which can be especially challenging when their manager is not a project manager himself.
In the late ’90s, after a series of organizational changes, I was appointed senior general manager for a highly visible and sensitive Treasury services function. At that time, the project manager responsible for converting the feature’s system into a new image-based and Y2K-compatible system was also transferred. Sir. Chairman, Ryan, a young, energetic and high potential leader with no significant project management experience in his background. Two factors exacerbated the challenge: 1) accelerating the transition, and the project was a must since the year 2000 threatened and a 2-year project under another vendor was unsuccessful, and 2) my aforementioned lack of strong project management experience!
Shortly after assuming responsibility for the project, Ryan began to show significant signs of worry, stress and fatigue. I have confided that he lost sleep and that he was not sure he was entitled to the job. His overall appearance confirmed his lack of sleep.
I knew Ryan was able to succeed. Still, this was the biggest challenge of his career. I listened carefully during this period of uncertainty and demonstrated understanding of his concerns. I shared with him similar experiences from my past, reaffirming our trust in him and my firm commitment and others to his success. I encouraged him to get in touch with experienced senior project managers to learn about project management best practices. I also encouraged him to spend more time with technical members of the project team to gain a better understanding of systems. We agreed to meet regularly to review the project progress and assured him that I would be available for consultation and support throughout.
Over time, Ryan’s skills and confidence began to grow, and the project’s successes began to grow. In the end, the project was the expected success that everyone had imagined. This was largely due to his personal growth and overall project management. Not too long ago, Ryan thanked me for my support and guidance, saying he was convinced there would be no project in the future, regardless of size and scope, which he didn’t think he could lead effectively because of this experience. Ryan’s prediction turned out to be absolutely true! He is currently a highly valued senior manager with a large national company with significant project management responsibilities.
You may want to consider this checklist if you are facing a similar situation:
- Remember the project manager on your reason for choosing him / her for the role. Show understanding, encouragement and support.
- Build confidence that success will happen. Build the manager’s confidence in his / her ability to tackle problems and remind them of their past performance.
- Make yourself available. Know when and where you need guidance. Give ideas.
- Provide strong support for reasonable cost-effective project management proposals.
- Encourages interaction with more experienced project managers and with project team members, especially those representing a family of disciplines.
- Make sure project management methodology is used correctly across the line.
- Make sure the right organization of the project team, players and communication processes are in place.
- Attend project management committee meetings regularly.
- Occasionally drop in on project team meetings.
- Complete learning and rewards and celebrate all results!
- Move him or her to the next challenge!
Do you have a leader with strong character and line management experience in a key project management role facing similar struggles? You can help your employee overcome his inexperience, doubts and fears and achieve great personal growth! This will develop a loyal and committed long-time leader with a broader set of skills as well as a very successful project!
If you would like a free evaluation of Executive Management with me to discuss how I can help you achieve the greatest success, please call me or email me and we will get you the best immediate next steps to success for you and your team.