In this Voices on Project Management roundtable, bloggers discuss their mentors. We asked: What is the best project management advice you received from your mentor? How do you continue to use it?
Hajar Hamid, PMP:
One of my previous managers gave me valuable advice on how to respond to challenging emails: Wait for a day before responding. The reason behind this is to be objective in responding and to get to the core of the issue. Only with a clear head can we contribute to the solution.
Mário Henrique Trentim, PMI-RMP, PMP:
The best advice I received from my mentor was: “There is no single project management theory. It takes knowledge and experience to build the maturity that will help you manage larger and more complex projects.”
In the beginning of my career, I focused on managing “by the book.” It felt safe because I was compliant to a standard. However, every project has special characteristics. Even A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Fifth Edition mentions tailoring.
Today, I advise my own mentees to learn and master one methodology at a time, applying them to a specific project. With time, they get more experienced and fluent in many standards and methodologies.
Lynda Bourne, DPM, PMP:
The mentee relationship has proven a very rich experience for me both as a mentor and as a mentee.
As a mentee, I mainly worked with women who had succeeded in areas in which I was just starting out. The most important thing I learned from mentors was this: Observe how the men operate. They don’t take failure personally, they are confident in their own abilities, and they know the value of networking. I learned how to do these three things better with support from my mentor, and my career flourished.
Generally my mentees are seeking a career change. Some know what they want to do next, some don’t. In our conversations, we explore options for their next career moves. I don’t give advice as such — I just ask questions, challenge or talk about my own experiences. Then when mentees make their move to the new career, they are ready and understand any risks. Mentees have the solution in their own minds and usually just need someone “in their corner” to work it out.
Conrado Morlan, PMP, PgMP:
While working hard to earn stripes as a junior project manager, the triple constraint ruled my mindset and blocked me from developing project plans. I was literally playing by the book and couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
My manager recommended I look at the big picture, be flexible and put things into context. “We do not live in a perfect world and you have to understand that,” he said. He advised that I shouldn’t let the uncertainty of resources stop me from seeing the bigger picture. The purpose of a project is to produce a result and along the way, my stakeholders and I would need to be flexible and adapt to the existing conditions.
Bernadine Douglas, PMP:
The best project management advice I received was regarding building rapport. My mentor encouraged networking and holding meetings inside and outside of the office to build rapport with team members and stakeholders.
As a mentor, I too put a lot of emphasis on this. I take advantage of situations to talk with team members so they feel comfortable talking with me.
What’s the best advice you received from a mentor? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.