Project Managers typically look for projects where they can perform well to continue their advancement. How though can they leverage their experience from project to project and build learning and awareness of their strengths and weaknesses?
We suggest that Program Managers require Project Managers to use 360 assessments as a means to understand how well the did as leaders and use the knowledge gained from such assessments as insights to take on new projects with an eye to improving in particular areas. A 360 could be used in some manner as a “post mortem review” of the Project Managers performance. Some Project Managers may want to do a 360 assessment before the end of the project, however. Either is fine.
With a 360, the Project Manager does a self-assessment, which is then compared to the assessments from four other perspectives: supervisor(s), peers, subordinates and customers. Each set of interactions can provide insights and opportunities to develop professionally. Here are some insights and suggestions.
- Because there are insights about Project Manager performance from the four main rater groups (supervisors, peers, subordinates, customers) the number and depth of opportunities for improvement can initially appear daunting.
- Because there may be much to work on, prioritizing and focusing on high value opportunities is key.
- The Project Manager owns the responsibility for addressing the “gaps”, however, the Project Managers’ supervisor(s) must support them.
- A coach working in collaboration with the Project Managers supervisor can offer an objective sounding board for the Project Manager and provide accountability for taking on the challenges of improving his/her performance.
- Remember that a 360 assessment reflects the view of raters in a given time frame and perhaps a limited set of interactions, it is important to consider other elements of Project Manager job performance as well.
Looking at graphic below, we can see that this person’s supervisor has identified a need for the Project Manager to improve his leadership in areas of focus, diligence and perspective and use facts and data more effectively. (This Project Manager did, in fact, have a very compassionate nature and worked well with others in an informal manner – he was well liked). In fact, we can also see that this individual has rated himself as being fairly good in these areas. However, with respect to his supervisor’s view of his performance, his supervisor believes that he can be an even better leader if he focuses on these areas. There are other areas as well that offer opportunity to improve; however, the Project Manager may decide to address these later.
A Project Manager could address these areas initially. In this instance, working with a coach, he focused on “managing up” better and spending time asking more questions about what the supervisor expected and how he could improve in these areas. He initiated efforts to understand how his supervisor worked with quantitative data and how to use this information to manage. He also put into play, practicing assertiveness skills, communication skills, and planning more carefully. The net result was that his performance improved in these areas.