Virtual Mentoring to Advance Your Project Management Career
The most successful Project Managers inspire others to reach goals, apply critical thinking skills to complex situations, and navigate organizational challenges. One way to enhance your Project Management career is through mentoring as either Mentor or Mentee. And mentoring as a development tool is recognized and respected by the C-Suite as an important training investment.
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Virtual Mentoring Defined
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management defines mentoring as “a formal or informal relationship between two people—a senior mentor and a junior protégé.” Over a decade ago, the Project Management Institute defined mentoring as one of five elements under leadership, with the performance criterion being to establish these mentoring relationships to support team member development.
Virtual mentoring is mentoring but is conducted using communication technologies. Rather than geographic limitations, virtual mentoring is flexible and potentially asynchronous. Virtual mentoring can be realized with smart phones, web conferences, emails, communication apps and software; what matters is that the people connect in a positive, respectful, and productive mentoring relationship.
In any format, mentoring is personal and the sharing of experience, enjoyment, frustration, success, and failure to help other’s grow in their career.
Mentoring for Project Management Career
Within the Project Management field, participating in a mentoring relationship, as either mentor or mentee, is advantageous. Participating in mentoring for project management demonstrates your commitment to the “commitment to the overall profession to enhance the knowledge, skills, and competencies of the people involved.” For the Project Manager mentee who is candid with their mentor and open to input, benefits can include: recommendations for solving current work challenges, connections to expand one’s professional network, and actions to take to reach career goals.
Consider this case study within the Harvard Business Review, “The Benefits of Virtual Mentors”.
An employee whose team was not using agile-development techniques heard of their value from one of his virtual mentors and decided to learn more about it. Discovering that expertise in it would put him in the running for some of the most exciting projects in the company, he decided to follow the mentor’s advice and joined an internal community. Participation allowed him to learn the basics of agile and stay on top of the latest developments and project news.
For the Project Manager mentor, your interactions with your mentee can expose you to alternate ways of solving problems. You may find being a mentor enhances your professional brand within your company and beyond. Additionally, the mentor enjoys the satisfaction of helping others as they navigate the project management profession.
Mentoring for PDUs
Both Project Manager mentors and mentees can record their mentoring activities on the Project Management Institute’s Professional Development Unit dashboard for potential consideration towards maintaining Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Define Your Mentoring Relationship Needs
Complete some self-reflection to define what you need from the mentoring relationship in both style and purpose. Don’t be too restrictive or you will miss out on a great connection, but know what works for you to increase your chances for success.
- What is your natural communication style? Formal or informal?
- Do you prefer open and free, or planned and structured discussion?
- What are your goals for the mentoring relationship? What does success look like?
Additionally, do not think of a mentoring relationship as a manager/employee dynamic. Rather, you are cultivating a relationship in which you can be safely vulnerable about your career challenges, setbacks, and goals; a dynamic in which honest feedback is both given and received.
Virtual Mentoring is a Click Away
You may be looking to mentor others or seeking a mentor for yourself. Once you have defined your goals for the mentoring relationship, begin to seek your mentoring partner. If you are looking for a mentor, use the below sources as a place to share you are a mentee searching for a mentor. If you are seeking opportunities to be a mentor for someone else, tap into different networks to make it known you are open to mentoring others.
Company Project Management Office
Professional Association like PMI or National Association of Women Business Owners
Previous Co- Workers
Participants in Project Management Class
Former Professors or Teachers
School Alumni Association
Friends or Family
When looking for a mentor or to be a mentor, you likely will be able to forge a stronger relationship with the partner if there is a general idea of the general roles and industry.
Virtual Mentoring Fuels Project Management Success
A productive mentoring relationship can foster your self-confidence, fuel your career motivation, and broaden your professional perspective. Mentoring should be part of your Project Management career journey. Be open to mentoring opportunities and to giving back to the profession.
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