Peer Support for New PMs

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Think about when you first started to learn something (it doesn’t matter what). You probably weren’t very good at it, and that probably caused a little frustration and embarrassment at times. Now imagine if you met someone who was an expert in that thing you were trying to learn. It might be cool to meet them and have the chance to ask for advice, but chances are you would feel even more inadequate and wouldn’t really know what to ask for (or what to do with any advice that was offered). There would just be too big a chasm between their ability and yours.

Now think about how we usually try to support people who are learning a new capability—one like project management. We start by sending them on a training course where they are likely given a fairly safe environment to learn in. They will be with other people who are also learning the skills, and the traditional classroom training model (while it lasts) provides relatively straightforward example scenarios where skills can be applied with minimal fear of embarrassment or frustration. But then those new project managers return to their workplace and are surrounded by people who know much more about project management than they do.

It’s not just project managers, either. Virtually everyone they interact with on a daily basis as a new project manager will have more experience than them—…

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