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The Importance of Choosing a Project Management Mentor Wisely

A young project manager is standing with his more mature mentor.I have mentioned before that I have been lucky enough to work with highly experienced and helpful project managers in the past. When you are just starting out in your career this can be the difference between making a success of it and failing.

There might be no shortage of potential mentors near you but will you be smart enough to choose the right one?

Not Just Experience Needed

One thing we need to be clear on right away is that just being very experienced in the role isn’t enough to make anyone an ideal mentor. As well as the fact that they have spent a long time doing this job they also need to work in the right way and give you the help and advice you need. If you start the job and see a wizened old colleague with plenty of grey hairs that doesn’t automatically mean that they are your perfect mentor. It might be that a younger project manager has less experience in the job but has the kind of attitude and work ethic which is going to be of a lot more use to you in the long run. The basic rule here is that you shouldn’t judge someone purely on their outward appearance when you could take the chance to get to know them better and find out if they are the mentor you need and deserve.

You Can Learn Both Good and Bad Habits Easily

In an ideal world you will choose a mentor whose good habits will run off on you. It is incredibly easy to pick up good habits if you find the right person to show them to you. However, the opposite is also true and if you choose badly then you will see that bad habits rub off on you just as easily. There are different ways of doing just about everything in this job and if you learn the good ways then your life will be a lot easier in the future. Don’t forget that the habits you pick up early in your career – both good and bad – could end up staying with you for the rest of your working life. This is why you need to be sure that you learn from someone who isn’t going to send you off on the wrong path.

Enjoy the Job

The first project management mentor I came across wasn’t only a great operator in the project world. He also had a fantastic sense of humor and helped me find ways to enjoy the job. This is a hugely important point and something you should always bear in mind. If you don’t find a way to have fun while working it is going to be a lot more difficult for you to keep on motivated as you do the job. This is something which it is easy to do when you are learning from the right person. The good news is that it is a job which allows you a lot of freedom to make things as entertaining as you want them to be. We would do simple things like add a section for games into the training courses we organized and think of ways of doing everything with a bit more fun and sense of humor than I would have done on my own.

Become a Mentor in the Future

One of the biggest advantages to learning well from your project mentor is that it will set you up nicely to become someone else’s mentor in the future. This is a wonderful way to pass on the knowledge you have built up and to help someone else start out in their career in the right way. This is something which might seem a long, long way off when you are starting out on your career but it doesn’t have to be so. In fact, this is the sort of fast moving environment in which you can very quickly go from being an absolute beginner to an expert in a very short space of time. No matter how long it takes you to learn the job well, you will at some point become the sort of project manager who could be a mentor to a new colleague. This is a wonderful position to be in and if you have learned everything in the right way then you can pass on the benefit of your experience and feel good about doing it as well.

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