Coaching a Project Manager ‘on the job’

Coaching on the job is one of the most effective and efficient ways to grow an individual’s capability. Effective because you can focus on the specific areas an individual wants to improve and efficient because you can do this while he or she is actually doing a project. Results, and thus the benefits of being coached, are therefore immediately visible.

A typical example of the benefits of coaching is provided by Christian, a project manager I’ve had the pleasure of coaching in one of Europe’s capitals. Christian was responsible for a major project to improve some business processes. On paper the project appeared textbook: there was sufficient budget, a realistic estimate on time, scope was clear and management had said they would support him and the project. In reality, ‘some’ business processes turned out to be ‘many’ and meetings with the management were all postponed.

As his coach, I empowered him to analyse the actual situation and make a ranking of what actual problems were and how to prioritise them. Being coached, Christian felt more secure because he had my experience and external views to support his conclusions. It made his view stronger towards his management team and got him the decision he was unable to obtain previously, and without further argument. Of course, plenty of challenges remained during the execution of the project. Stakeholder management turned out to be very time consuming: they all requested numerous changes. By showing him how to present this large array of change requests in a simple model, he was able to cut down time spent on stakeholder meetings by 50% and improved stakeholder satisfaction considerably.

By the end of the project, Christian was a different person from the one who started the project, feeling he was in control of both the content of the project and the stakeholders. The organization around him also felt this was actually the first project where the performance was outstanding and continuous which shows how coaching an individual can improve not just the individual, but the company as a whole.

You may wish to learn more about how CUPE can help you in these situations – feel free to read about our consulting capabilities or if you have any specific questions you can call us on: +44 (0) 1202 555 733, or fill out a contact form.