Here is the full review for the Mentoring Manual published in APM’s Project magazine Summer 2015 edition:
Book title The Mentoring Manual
Author (s) Julie Starr
ISBN number 978-1-292-01789-1
Publisher Pearson Education Limited
It makes you look at mentoring from a different angle – helping you recognise where existing relationships may already adopt the role of mentor, and how to distinguish mentoring from other relationships.
The book encourages you to take on the theory as you work through it, even if you don’t fully accept the concepts rather than re-engineering to enhance your own methods.
The book benefits project managers in that it has short exercises to practice which are easy to follow and not too time consuming – this helps the reader fully grasp the methods and can benefit from quick win scenarios (ideal for those working in busy environments). PMs ideally should be nurturing their teams and the book uses business scenarios which can be aligned to your current needs. The book takes a common sense approach to delivering and makes you think about how mentees might receive information, a trait I would say is required for a PM, however to have a refresh is always good practice. This would make an ideal beginner’s book for PMs new to mentoring and is ideal reference material to keep on the shelf to go back to as it doesn’t need to be read from start to finish in one go. The general theme is about working on relationships, therefore perfect for any PPM professional who could benefit from assistance in this area. Arguably it is the relationship management which harvests the best results within projects and programmes. It’s not PM specific, so it is also good for all management professionals, it is this generalist approach which does however feed well into any given scenario – as PM can be very diverse this lends itself well to the field.
There is a split between self help content and practical detail, the switch between the two makes for a different approach to this type of book.
You are encouraged to question your approach and as such this will shape your methods and management style in a positive way as it really tries to embrace how our actions are viewed from all angles.
So we’ve been in and out and back in and double dipped the recession, a lot have held on in their current jobs feeling it to be a safer bet than moving into the unknown – but in reality, just how safe is it to stay with an employer after a few years? The business may be booming and there is no sign of streamlining, however a story I hear all too often is that there appears to be no progression and roles are becoming a little stale as the projects are very much alike. As far as your career progression goes, the safe bet is actually making your aspirations grow stagnant. Most PM professionals enjoy the job because of the diversity and growth, and as much as your company may be signing off training to keep you interested and happy – is it really enough?
I was talking with a programme manager last week who told me he had realised he’d lost his spark because there just wasn’t enough of a challenge for him anymore. When he had started his role a few years ago at his current employer, he had significant challenges with disparate teams and projects not delivering on time or to budget. Having spent time to really understand the team and implement a stepped capability model into the business, he had brought the programme capability through to maturity and apart from the occasional anomaly he has a smooth running ship. He explained that he’d hung in with the business as the job market was unstable and felt the security of his current position was enough to keep him interested. But as time has flown by he realises that he needs to do something against his risk averse comfort zone and take a leap of faith to secure a new challenge and get his spark back. Although he has a great deal of loyalty to his current company, he knows that the current structuring means he will continue in the same role with no chance of progression until “someone dies” and as the PPM team and structure are looking healthy for the foreseeable future his only option is to move on.
Is this you? Are you feeling trapped in a comfort zone which is slowly killing your passion for PM? The market is always up and down, there is never an ideal time to jump ship but as a good PM you will be used to researching and weighing up the risks, so use these skills to look at new opportunities and relight that fire.
Last year seemed to fly by and the holidays often spring thoughts of change – whether the break sparks a need to move on from the old routine at work or for a completely new start, now is a good time to start updating your CV. At an event the other week I was having a discussion with a Project Director who told me he often puts his experiences to the back of his mind, well once it is done and dusted there’s little point procrastinating right!? True to a point however it is good practice to keep adding detail to your CV even if you haven’t time to shape it up. That way you are keeping a record of interesting pieces of work which will refresh your mind when you do have time to update the document properly. Another project professional I was speaking to told me that at the project close down meeting he rounded up by telling his team to update their CVs, ensuring they are keeping a record of achievements. This is fantastic practice and something I believe is quite rare for project leaders to promote. He is clearly demonstrating great leadership skills, not only encouraging celebration of success but also caring enough to have his team think about their own personal development.
Of course it isn’t always possible to keep updating your CV as work and personal commitments take priority and before you know it the thought has slipped your mind. If this is the case then now is the time to set some time aside to really work that CV and make it work for you. As the new year prompts a health kick and resolutions to give up bad habits, you can also take control of your career (which is less excruciating than giving up chocolate etc) – make a list to start, think about you as a professional and what you would have others read from your CV. If you have a proficiency in a particular area which yields you results then now is the time to start thinking about good examples of this skill so you can really back up what you say you are. Flex out those pinkies and get writing about what you enjoy in the PPM domain – you’ll find that it will come across as far more interesting than just stating XYZ like a job description and it will actually help hiring managers understand more about you.
Statistics show that almost half of all working people have been affected by bullying or harassment in the workplace, either by being the victim or by witnessing it happening to someone else. This statistic is far too high. If a child is being bullied at school then it’s taken very seriously by the parents and teachers involved and something is done about it. However, in the workplace people may be scared to come forward and report bullying behaviour for fear of the repercussions.
What constitutes bullying in the workplace?
- Verbal abuse including shouting and swearing at a colleague or employee.
- An individual being singled out for criticism or blame which is unjustified.
- Playing practical jokes and pranks on an individual repeatedly.
- Purposefully ignoring a particular employee’s contributions regularly.
- Disrespectful language or actions aimed at embarrassing or humiliating an individual.
What constitutes harassment in the workplace?
- Negative comments or actions based on an individual’s gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or religion is classed as harassment rather than just bullying. Harassment in the workplace on any of the grounds above is governed by law in most countries so the perpetrators can be prosecuted.
What are the effects of bullying and harassment in the workplace?
- Effects on the individual: Stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, absenteeism, low productivity in the workplace, insomnia, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.
- Effects on the employer: A high staff turnover and loss of revenue due to constantly having to train new staff; low morale amongst staff and therefore lack of motivation and low productivity; a difficulty in recruiting quality staff members as word spreads through the industry about the hostile working environment at the company.
As you can see, absolutely nothing good comes from bullying and harassment in the workplace. So if it’s happening to you or someone you know it’s imperative that you take action. There are several ways to tackle the problem:
- Try not to react to the bullying. If you react in the heat of the moment your emotions will cloud your judgement and may lead you to say or do something which you later regret.
- Take a step back and try to look at the situation objectively. Have you misinterpreted your colleague’s actions? Speak to friends or family to see if they feel like the actions of your colleague can be construed as bullying.
- Keep a diary of any incidents that you deem to be bullying. If you have them down on paper you’ll be able to identify any patterns, and have a better body of evidence to present in the event of a grievance or tribunal.
- Escalate the problem where possible. If it’s a colleague harassing you then inform your line manager and let them deal with it in the correct manner. If it’s your manager bullying you then speak to their manager or a union representative.
- If none of the above works to resolve the situation and you end up feeling forced to resign due to ill health brought on by the stress of the situation, it’s always advisable to seek advice from an employment solicitor.
A friend of mine was recently a victim of bullying and harassment in the workplace. She has a disability, and one of her colleagues took it upon themselves to highlight this and use it to discriminate against her and humiliate her on several occasions. Her self-esteem and confidence were really knocked by this and she didn’t feel she got the relevant support from her line manager. Eventually the situation forced her to resign due to stress and anxiety. Upon doing so she contacted a local employment solicitor in Loughborough, her home town, and sought advice on pursuing a claim against her employer. In the end her employer was made to pay compensation to her, which gave her back her confidence and enabled her to find a new job which she’s very happy in.
The moral of the story is: If you feel you’re being mistreated it’s down to you to do something about it! Don’t stand back and let the bullies win, keep a log of all of the incidents, don’t rise to the bullies, and seek advice from an employment solicitor. Remember there are acts and laws in place to protect us in our place of work, so use them to your advantage and stand up to the bullies!