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Fill in the Blanks for Junior Project Team Members

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The other day, a member of my project team e-mailed me and proposed that we consider starting a new project. The new project would complement a project we are currently working on.  

Eventually, I learned that the project board had rejected this proposed project before. I discovered that a stakeholder who had pushed to start the project several times -- despite the fact that the board discarded it -- approached my team member, who happened to be a junior member and new graduate.

As a new member to our team, I had to explain the project selection process of our organization. The board selects projects from a business-oriented approach. Under this direction, projects produce business benefits that will contribute to achieve organization's strategic objectives. The proposed project did not fit this mindset, but as a new project team member, how could he have known?

I explained further to this project team member that in this mindset, project professionals must wear a business and technical hat. Depending on the situation, project managers must ensure that their project teams deliver projects that will produce the benefits and results that the organization is looking for.

This is just one example of how project professionals will need to be able to coach "multi" teams, especially those made up of new and young project members. You can't assume that everyone on the team shares your same knowledge.

Eventually, the junior team member understood why only projects that will help the organization fulfill its intended purpose should be selected. A few days later, we met with the stakeholder to ask for specifics about the project with regard to the organizational benefits.

How do you coach junior project team members when they are less knowledgeable?

 

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5 Comments

Kurt,
Thank you for your comments.

Yes, stakeholders should be respectful and adhere to decisions made by the project board. In my personal experience, I have found some stakeholders that take advantage of their hierarchical position and try to fulfill their desires pushing thru the new team members of the project teams who may not be familiar with the process or board decisions.

This situation is confusing because the new team member may think that this would be an opportunity to excel and will support the stakeholder opinion.

Julio,

Communication is key however, when most people say communication what they mean is charisma. Have you ever seen someone with great charisma move an audience to action without saying anything? It happens all the time.

Often it is the person that is sending the message that is ineffective because without charisma the audience is not moved to action. Communication is often confused with charisma. To be effective you must have both. You must have charisma and use it to send the right message.

I think the key thing here is the communication piece.

Regardless that the PM has more or less knowledge, if he knows (a) how to communicate to that audience (style, acronyms, interest, etc) and then (b) knows a lot about the project objectives, pros and cons, how to get there, how to achieve the goals, etc., I truly thing that a Junior PM could present and get the agreement to start up.

Is it inappropriate that a stakeholder is talking with a team member without the PM's knowledge?

Unfortunately, we have some of that in our organization and it creates a lot of confusion with multiple directives from multiple sources. Sounds like this stakeholder may be out of line with his request, especially since his project idea had been rejected in the past.

Teach them leadership skills and coach them on the application of them within the PM arena.

That's the missing part for many junior PM's and it often frustrates them from getting to the senior level.

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