How can Project Managers help project team members further their career goals?

In order for project to be deemed success, team member should be happy on top of other attributes like customer satisfaction, meeting stated objectives, etc, in my opinion. And team members will be happy and would want to work with PM if they feel that they were part of something bigger than project, and that they have learned and experienced things furthering their career. At the end of the day, everyone wants to grow and move ahead in career, isn’t it.

PMs are well positioned to foster the development of team members. PMs have a big picture view, and understand the strategic and project level objectives better due to the fact that PMs are involved in lot of planning and strategy sessions with senior management and business. Of course, PMs are expected to run the program/project effectively to meet stated business objectives but could do themselves a favor if they foster team development. Some tips on how to influence team development:

  1. Ensure that team member is not just assigned tasks matching his skills but push the boundaries by giving tasks beyond team members; comfort zone. This is a double-edged sword – helps further team member skills + helps PM get more tasks accomplished
  2. Set the expectations of team members during the Project Initiation phase (matter of fact, have a one-on-one conversation and write this down)
  3. If the project is on latest cutting-edge technologies, or building complex industry process, consider providing adequate training
  4. Understand the short-term and long-term career goals of each team member and assign tasks accordingly (this may be tough but must be accommodated whenever possible). Offer development opportunities such as rotating work assignments, cross training etc
  5. Provide feedback at regular intervals not at the end of the project
  6. Recommend a team member who has exceeded expectation on a project to fellow project/program managers (i.e. recognition across project boundaries)
  7. Take team members out for lunch – helps boosts morale and build camaraderie, in addition I have seen that team usually come sup with creative ideas on back-of-napkin during such informal sessions
  8. Enhance Presentation and Communication skills by encouraging team members to present more often
  9. If a team member asks you to be his/her mentor, be one
  10. Say “Thank You” more often (it’s free :-))

Project managers who do team member development successfully are often those who were coached and mentored in their own career and they understand the process well. They appreciate the guidance, role modeling, and support they received in their career development and want to be part of helping others achieve.

Remember, if team members are successful, then PM can be successful, which in turn will translate to successful project.

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