APM Mentoring pilot

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Posted by APM on 29th Jul 2010

Why this initiative?

The simple answer is because of requests the Aberdeen, London and the South East branches were receiving from their members.

Aberdeen had particular requests from their corporate members to provide mentors for new PMs and for those undertaking MSc studies. The discussions were about how to seed back the decades of project experience in the APM membership to accelerate new PMs learning/experience.

London and the South East branches have so far had demand more associated with people working outside the larger corporates. Demand from those inside the larger corporates appears to be being met internally; it would be interesting to know if this is the case. It will be interesting to see any differences in the pilots these branches are hoping to run in 2010.

Perhaps a more interesting answer to the question is the growing acceptance that PM is about people and they how work together to deliver successfully. Since such skills are ideally learnt, developed and honed through the interpersonal process of coaching and mentoring this work is excitingly at the centre of a different way of being a PM. With the benefits being potentially for both the Mentor and Mentee, its a real case of watch this space.

The pilot aims to do what?

The objectives of the pilot successfully submitted through the New Ideas Process by Helen Timperley of the Aberdeen Branch are to:
1 To fulfil a request by local Corporate Members for the APM to run such a scheme.
2 To gain qualitative data which will give an insight to and enable evaluation of what would be needed to scale-up such a scheme, and to help inform a larger plan for 2010/11.
The scope of the pilot is to be kept deliberately limited.

What is the current state of the pilot?

The mentoring pilot went live in Aberdeen on Oct 1st with a very successful session with the 7 pilot Mentors held on 30th September; at which there was a lot of lively debate about what their contribution should be and what success for the pilot means to them - we also covered key areas of concern and had some practice sessions on how to deal with potentially difficult situations.

To date we have 5 mentors working with 11 Mentees.
A major part of the pilot has been developing documents and a process to make the whole process and self managing as possible. To this end a specific ProjectPlace site has been established and part of the pilot review will be to see how successful this has been.

The first feedback point will be early December when both Mentors and Mentees will be asked to complete a feedback form; the follow-up session, requested by the Mentors will take place on 9 Dec.

What lessons have been learnt so far?

It is very early and we expect many more lessons to emerge but at the moment we would highlight:

There are constant discussions of what is mentoring. At one level it can seem pedantic AND without this it is very clear that people can make quite unhelpful assumptions about what it does and does not contain. Since part of the very work of mentoring is to raise to awareness that assumptions are dangerous things this has resulted in many fascinating debates. In order to find some firm base for the pilot we developed our own definition

Experienced PMs (Mentors) provide guidance to less experienced PMs (Mentees), with the intention of accelerating their performance and their careers: how the input is utilised always remains the responsibility of the Mentee.

Significantly more time than we had hoped has been needed to support the admin type functions of the pilot. We are hoping this is because it is a pilot and so all the processes and materials are new; truth is this will likely remain a hope!
What is the role of the APM in mentoring for PMs debates revolve around such topics as:
oWho decides someone can be a mentor
oShould the APM accredit mentors
oCould being a mentor add to a PMs evidence for charter status?

What are the next steps?

The Aberdeen pilot completes in April 2010 and it is not until we have time to reflect on all of the lessons from it that decisions about any further roll-out can or should be made.
While bearing this clearly in mind, because of the interest from their members, the London and South East Branches are holding an event in Jan at which they have asked Brenda to provide an update on the content and progress of the pilot.

How can people find out more if they want to?

About the:
Aberdeen Pilot and ProjectPlace site Helen Timperley at Helen.timperley@rolls-royce.com
London Branch involvement and forthcoming meetings on Mentoring John Chrastek
South East Branch involvement Martin Gillespie apm.se@martin-gillespie.me.uk
APM overall perspective - David West at David.west@apm.org.uk
Mentoring content, process, guides, learning events, working group Brenda Hales at Brenda@teamanimation.co.uk

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