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Coaching to Get the Project Manager Back on Track

Part II – Follow Up

Part I gave background information on a client who was having problems with a project manager. This is a follow up to that post.

Since the first post was written, we met with the project manager (we’ll call him Jim) to discuss the situation. Jim certainly recognized he was having issues with project team members and was worried about losing his job. When asked why he felt it difficult to trust his team members, Jim noted that he felt incredible pressure to succeed on all of his projects and just didn’t feel like he could rely on others. He has gotten ahead in his career by taking on all projects – and most especially the challenging ones – and micromanaging team members to get things done his way. Certainly Jim has succeeded as a project manager – he was one of the best at what he did in the company. However, where he was not succeeding was in a leadership role – which is where his manager wanted him to be!

Leaders help others along. The best leaders do not micromanage. They provide guidance and help those reporting to them develop both professionally and personally. They provide them challenging opportunities to grow, accepting that mistakes will be made. Jim had the capability to be a great leader in the company! He just needed to let go. And it was going to take time. But he wanted to improve the situation – and that was an important step!

We’ve provided three coaching sessions with Jim to date. We were even able to start the coaching sessions in conjunction with a project that he was leading that was just kicking off. His team consisted of 8 individuals; 4 of whom have worked with him on previous projects. Here is what we intend to work on:

  • Learning to “let go” and let team members take the lead on some project components
  • Relying on team members to help develop the schedule for tasks they are assigned
  • Asking team members opinions and thoughts on:
    • Solutions to problems
    • Project change requests
  • Asking team members to lead status meetings – especially when areas of their expertise are the focus

After the third coaching session, a survey went out to the team members to get their thoughts on how things were going. Definitely progress was being made and they have seen some changes in how Jim was interacting with them, but they still noted that he was hesitant to let them try something new on a project for fear it would fail. Jim also recognized this was difficult for him. The survey of his manager also showed progress. She was thrilled with his progress.

Because Jim wants to succeed and improve, there was progress. Jim recognized that he had issues and he was interested in moving into a leadership role. These were all motivators to keep improving. Additionally, Jim constantly sought feedback from his team members and would frequently ask them to help him stay on track.

Do all clients recognize that they have an issue? No – that would be too easy! For those that don’t recognize their problems, don’t give up on them! Help them to see where the issues are and the benefits of improving. Jim was an easier case because he recognized that he had to change and was motivated to do so.

Stay tuned for a follow up case study in the near future.

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