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Groom and Coach Your Gen Y Project Managers

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As a project or program manager, there may be times when you're asked to recommend one of your team members to manage a new project. Depending on the magnitude of the project, you may select a team member based on his or her skills and experience.

The new project may be a good opportunity to fulfill a younger team member's aspiration of becoming a project leader. But to groom project managers from a different generation, you must assess their skills and define an action plan.

After the action plan is completed, the Gen Y manager will start a transition period to prove his capacities by executing the associated project activities. Ninety days is usually appropriate.

During this period the Gen Y project manager will be vulnerable. It will be important that whoever is coaching the Gen Yer, establish a solid working relationship and that you help him or her to navigate the new role.
 
To effectively coach and train the Gen Y project manager, have your trainee do the following:

  1. Assume the role. Have the Gen Y member take a mental break from the team member role and take charge of the project manager role. What has made him successful in his previous position will not necessarily make him successful in the new role as a project manager.
  2. Get familiar. Make sure the Gen Y member understands the project scope and identify what he or she needs to know about the organizational structure and procedures, and corporate culture and politics during the transition period.
  3. Build success. Define an action plan and meet frequently with the Gen Y member to set and manage expectations.
  4. Recognize quick wins. Identify areas in which results can be produced and will create value for the project. This will help to build the younger project manager's credibility.
  5. Network. Meet with the Gen Y project manager to define networking guidelines and build a list of people that may be important to network within the organization. Facilitate meetings and follow-up networking progress.
Training this new team member to be a project leader can also be beneficial for you. You will be able to act as a coach and combine your field experience in the organization and the profession to customize an approach that will leverage the Gen Y project manager's character, skills and aptitude for learning.
 
Have you had the opportunity to recommend a Gen Y member of your team to lead a project? If so, what did you do to support him or her?

 

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3 Comments

Very good and timely topic. The coaching relationship has to be a shared responsibility.

Sometimes the young pm is assigned the role of PM and left alone to do the project, with bad results. The primary tasks of the coach is to answer question the young PM has (not command him/her what to do) and secondly to guard the boundaries success and failure: course corrections will be needed when the young pm is headed in the wrong direction.

A thoughtful post.

Typically, the Gen Y Project Managers from a technical background must concentrate on people management skills. Techies often fail to think beyond the project scope, schedule and cost aspects of the project. People management includes stakeholder management, meeting customer & sponsors' expectations, team aspirations which is very vital aspect of Project Management.

I have noticed that most Generation Y project managers tend to be a bit harsh on team members, as they tend to blame them (them meaning the team members) for their mistakes in project management. It's very important to address this issue when it's first noticed.

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