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three ways for PMOs to develop their project managers


By James Liu, PMP

Many project management offices (PMOs) struggle with developing their project managers. But it doesn't have to be so difficult. Here are three easy steps to help you upgrade project practitioners’ competencies and performance.

When I talk to PMO directors about making their office more effective, they always ask, “How should I develop my project managers so they can better apply our methodology?”

Ranking the project managers will allow you to align them with the right projects.

My answer: Begin with internal training, covering topics such as your enterprise project management (EPM) methodology, if you have one, and your organization's strategy. After three to six months of study, test your project practitioners. Then, pick the top scorers and, according to your budget, have them work toward earning their Project Management Professional (PMP)® and/or PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® credential. This study usually takes another three to six months.


2. Rank project managers

Rank project managers according to their project delivery performance, team leadership, PMI certifications and years in project management. For example, assign people to one of three ranks: junior project manager, project manager and senior project manager. In this way, you have both ranked your talent pool and provided a career path.

To help with the rankings, convene a talent appraisal and ranking committee consisting of the project managers’ superiors, well-respected internal project managers, external consultants and someone from human resources.

Ranking the project managers will allow you to align them with the right projects. When I was a PMO director, I used an alignment process so I could select the needed level of project manager from my talent pool. This maximizes current resources by putting the right people on each project and develops project managers of every level by the right on-the-job practice.

3. Keep coaching and mentoring

Hire professional consultants to coach senior project managers or send out your own coaches from the PMO. These coaches should be experienced professionals capable of leading project managers to solve their own problems by applying your EPM methodology and globally recognized best practices.

For junior project managers, the approach should be mentorship. Ask senior project managers to mentor the juniors. Give them rewards for serving as mentors and ask them to share their professional experiences with mentees. With time, the seniors will become good coaches, and the juniors will become mentors themselves. PM

img James Liu (Tong Liu), PhD, PMP, is a senior trainer of project management and leadership at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.




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