Project Management Coaching by Susanne Madsen

02 Aug

Susanne Madsen is a project and program manager, mentor and coach with over 15 years experience in managing and rolling out large change programs for the financial sector. She is a qualified Corporate and Executive coach and a PRINCE2 practitioner. She is currently employed as a Program Director for one of the world’s largest financial institutions. As part of her job, she coaches and mentors project managers, and her book, The Project Management Coach, will be published in December by Management Concepts. I meet Susanne on Twitter, after we both were featured onThe Project Box’s Top 10 Project Managers on Twitter, earlier this year.


How Did You Get Started Coaching Project Managers:

I started coaching and mentoring project managers because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to contribute and help others overcome some of the challenges, which I had experienced myself. I had seen the positive effects of coaching in other walks of life and was keen to use it in project management. Although I expected coaching to have an impact, I did not know that it would be quite as powerful as it proved to be and that only a few coaching sessions could be enough to give project managers the tools and support they needed to excel and make rapid progress.

The coaching and mentoring sessions provided me great insight into what others found challenging about project management and enabled me to start identifying ways in which these challenges could be overcome. With that insight, I began to develop a set of unique tools and approaches, which I call the 6-Step Approach.

Tell Me More About The 6-Step Project Management Coaching Framework:

The 6-Steps combine some of the most powerful coaching techniques with project management, with a view to unleash the project manager’s performance. When I coach someone face-to-face, we always use these steps, albeit in a very flexible manner. The steps are as follows:

  • Step 1 – Create a Mission Statement: The aim is to get the individuals to visualise and feel what kind of project manager and leader they want to become, as we can only be successful once we know what success looks like. As part of this step, we look at strengths and weaknesses, aspirations and role models.
  • Step 2 – Create a Benchmark of Current Skill set: The project managers are asked to assess their skills and capabilities within 10 project management disciplines of task management and people management. The result is a gap analysis indicating what they need to focus on in order to fulfil their goals and ambitions.
  • Step 3 – Seek Feedback from Managers, Peers and Customers: Project managers are always encouraged to ask their peers and managers for feedback in order to highlight blind spots or find their hidden potential. This can take real courage, strength and determination, but can ultimately generate amazing results.
  • Step 4 – Create an Action Plan and Move Forward: In this step, the project managers create a plan of action so that they can start to leverage their strengths and address their development points. The action plan enables people to start moving forward and fulfill their goals and mission as a person, project manager and leader.
  • Step 5 – Read up on Project Management and Leadership Techniques: In order to accelerate the project manager’s learning and development, they are provided with a number of articles and exercises in the area of project management best practices and self management. Topics include: project initiation, product quality, risk and issue management, change management, team management, stress management, time management, stakeholder management, and so forth.
  • Step 6 – Review Progress and Determine Next Steps: When people start to work with themselves and enter into a coaching process, huge changes happen very quickly. It is therefore important to regularly review the project manager’s progress in the context of each individual’s goals and aspirations.

Tell Me More About Your Upcoming Book, The Project Management Coach

The Project Management Coach is built up around the 6 steps described above. It is an easy-to-use workbook which is designed to increase the project manager’s confidence and competence. It can be used directly by the individual project manager or by supervisors who want to coach others to become highly valued and truly successful project management leaders. The book is filled with practical and insightful tips, tools and techniques and includes self assessments, 360° feedback forms, action plans, articles on project management best practices, exercises and performance reviews.

The primary goal of the book is to help the readers understand and articulate what they want to achieve as project managers and assist them in achieving it. The secondary goal is to help them overcome some of the most common project management challenges, such as: the ability to effectively manage a demanding workload, leading and motivating a team, initiating and estimating a project, building effective relationships with senior stakeholders, being confident enough to say no to unreasonable demands, managing risks, issues and changes to scope, and delegating effectively.

Thank you so much Susanne for taking time to share your insightful project management knowledge with us!  We look forward to reading your upcoming book in December. 🙂

Susanne can be found on Twitter: @SusanneMadsen and her Project Management Blog. Thank you!


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