Groom and Coach Your Gen Y Project Managers

April 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

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?

Conrado Morlan has more than 20 years of experience managing programs and projects in the Americas, Europe and Asia and has led multigenerational and multicultural project teams. Mr. Morlan was one of the first people to attain the PMI PgMP® credential in Latin America and the first Mexican recipient of the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award in 2011. Mr. Morlan is a frequent guest speaker at Project Management congresses in America and Latin America, is an avid volunteer with PMI chapters in America, Mexico, Costa Rica and Spain, and is a contributor for PMI Community Post and a blogger at http://thesmartpms.posterous.com/.

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