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Have You Tried Coaching?

It May Help Get That Project Manager Back on Track…

A client called me just after the holidays and said she was concerned about one of her project managers. He was fantastic at his job but she was getting increasing complaints that he was difficult to work with. I ask her in what way he was “fantastic” at his job.  She noted the following:

  • Always willing to take on the tough projects
  • Get job communicating with stakeholders to determine needs
  • Always met timelines and never went over budget
  • Communicated effectively with management on potential problems with projects and always brought solutions to them
  • Went above and beyond to get the job done

When I asked what the complaints were about, she mentioned they were from project team members. There were about 5 – 6 individuals who frequently worked with him on project teams and they absolutely did not like working with him. Her concern was that they were all really great members of the team and she was afraid she was going to lose some of them. I asked her what the complaints were and she mentioned the following:

  • Not tolerant of mistakes that are made – yells at team members in team meetings
  • Consistently pushing team members to get things done earlier than the scheduled time
  • Not accepting team members expertise around time required to complete certain tasks
  • Unapproachable – newer team members are afraid to ask him any questions and cringe at being assigned to one of his projects

She wanted suggestions on what to do to improve the situation – and she didn’t want to hear that the project manager has to go. She felt he could be “saved.” I agreed he could be – if he wanted to be.

I had just finished working with another client on providing coaching to a few of their more senior project managers who had issues “bringing along” more junior project team members. They just lacked the patience to work with them on their teams. Through one-on-one coaching, we were able to get these project managers to understand that part of their responsibility as a senior member of the organization was in helping bring along others. Frankly, for one of them, there was a fear that the more junior person would be better than they would – a bit threatened you could say. For the other two, they really had no idea how to help others when they felt they could barely stay afloat themselves (you know what it’s like when you are juggling lots of work, all with tight deadlines – we’ve all been there!).  The coaching helped all three of the project managers be more comfortable with this aspect of their role in the organization – in fact, one of them is now mentoring others who are interested in getting into project management!

She is going to give it a go! I have a meeting with the project manager over the next week and we are going to be scheduling coaching sessions with the project manager to see if we can change the situation. I’ll keep you updated!