Mentoring Project Managers

Today was an interesting day out for myself – volunteering to take my 5-year-young niece out to the local neighborhood skating rink, I thought that it was a casual outing. What turned out was interesting not only for both of us but made me think quite a bit. This was probably the second or third instance she was coming out to learn skating – previous instances were mixed and she had turned from a very enthusiastic participant to a reluctant one. After much coaxing, she agreed to come to the rink. Once she was ready with her skates and helmet, she got tense and started crying.

This is very similar to how a first-time Manager was on the job. Obviously, thanks to our age & maturity, no one would cry out but I am sure all of us will cry internally. Looking for the nearest shoulder to pour out all our woes, what we usually need is a mentor to take us on the right line. If the project involves internal politics, delays, inadequate resources, Managers definitely feel overwhelmed with the problems they are facing and most likely the result of the project is known – going downhill.

I tried to cajole my niece, pleaded with her, enticed her with her favorite chocolates (as incentives) & finally even threatened her (by stating that I will go home leaving her alone) but the result was the same. I then decided to be a bit more patient, told her that I could not stay with her on the rink but I would support her cheering from outside. She surprisingly agreed to this suggestion.

Very similarly, I feel what would help the debutants would be the presence of a Mentor – someone whom they know and trust very well to confide all their problems with. That would definitely give them much more confidence on their job. Very few Managers admit that they have problems and need help. The system is also so chaotic that the Seniors do not have any time to guide their mentees. Nor is there any incentives to help others out. But, isnt it a very simple task to do?

All I did at the rink was walk up and down at the same pace my niece was skating. She felt a lot more comfortable seeing me at the side. After a few rounds, we made our way back home. Things could have been better but I felt that this was much better than what I expected. The other extreme option would have been to turn my back on her and walk away but I couldnt, looking at her plight.

Why cant one follow the same path of Mentoring Project Managers in real-life? They definitely need a lot of help and are crying out for help. But, they don’t know whom to ask and how to seek the experts out. Maybe we can create a site of  ‘Agony Aunts/Uncles‘ to help them out on the net, if there are no internal forums to help them. But, help them we must. Hope you agree.

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4 Responses to “Mentoring Project Managers”

  1. Prateek Khare Says:

    Very thoughtful and inspiring.
    Just a small addition, if young one’s(say, young managers) have a mentor at home, they will need the ‘at-work mentor’ a little less. 🙂

    But since our profession of Software Engineering is very fresh compared to all other professions, it needs a great deal of inputs from people like you who have experienced so much and know the right from the wrong way of doing things, and moreover are open to share it with the people looking upto you.

    Think of writing a book, down the line ?

  2. Madhusudan Rao Says:

    Thanks for your comments Prateek – feels encouraged to share more. I am always inclined to share whatever I have learnt in my career.

    Book? Too far away, mate.

  3. biswajit agarwal Says:

    good one sir.. right from experience..

  4. naveen Says:

    nice, turely these are the moments we cherish and learn in life.

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