An illustration of a PM coaching transformation

Many are curious to know what kind of transformation one can expect through the PM coaching. Sharing one instance of it as an illustration. Please note that each participant and their transformation is unique in itself, depending on where the participant stands, willingness to change and support from the manager.

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The profile of the participant was as follows:

  • Technically very capable
  • Tended to over-commit to customers
  • Set high expectations for his team
  • Could be terse and not supportive of team members
  • Tended to treat all team members alike
  • Viewed as being a bit of a “loner”
  • Schedule pressures often resulted in his ending up doing many team member tasks by himself

He was well aware of some of the above and some were inputs from his manager. Elements of above were included in his Personal Development Plan (PDP), which is used through the coaching.

I worked with him over a period of few months with a monthly face to face meeting, supported by email and phone interactions as needed, typically at least a couple per week. What is detailed below is a brief summary of the steps and outcomes.

The approach I took was to encourage him to apply some of the techniques of Scope, Time and Stakeholder Management, it is easy to start on the hard/science part. He was eager to practice these techniques, which he has just learnt and it worked very well. A few open ended questions on how he would ideally like to make commitments and contrasting that to how he was going about it, helped him resolve the ‘over-committ to customers’ part. He shared that when he sought time from his customer to come back with an estimate, the customer didn’t blink, which was a big surprise for him. He realized that he had made assumptions about customer expectations (namely, he as a PM should have ready answers to any query etc.,) which were incorrect.

The other part of working with team took some time, the participant being a star performer had an implicit and unconscious expectation that all in the team will be like him. I encouraged him to try a technique – Skill Attitude Matrix, more on it in another blog. This exercise requires the team members to be placed in one of the four quadrants along the two axis of Skill and Attitude. The exact placement is not something I bothered about, the intent was to make him aware that team members are different. This exercise made him conscious of it and surprisingly the rest followed. He on his own started dealing with the different team members with an approach appropriate to their situation. All that was missing was his awareness of the situation.

The manager’s support was crucial, I made the manager aware of changes the participant was planning on making and requested the manager to make his own observations. I find it necessary to do this, as many managers fail to notice small changes or take it for granted. Making them aware helps, as their acknowledgement of a positive change is a source of encouragement to the participant.

At the end of the engagement I was very happy to hear that the participant felt that there was change and was acknowledged by his maanger. It was heartening for me to hear the participant say that two things that he would always do (as well as advise others to do) when taking up a new project – (1) doing  Stakeholder Analysis and (2) using Skill Attitude Matrix. This was good to hear from a participant who had bought in to do this, based on the real experienced benefits.

Do get in touch with me if you have any questions and want to know more.

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