How do you really develop your project management skills?

Look at the list below. It is from a group of senior managers who attended a recent project management course and was the result of being asked; what one thing are you going to take away with you from the course?


  1. The need for a structured approach to project management in our organisation
  2. Use of the overall project management methodology – it will help guide us all
  3. Focus on own role and remit as there is confusion on this issue
  4. Importance of work at the start of the project – analysis and definition
  5. Importance of reviewing projects/ monitoring
  6. All of the concepts – from start to finish
  7. Resource planning – applying more rigour to planning as well as resourcing of projects

The list is very positive. But, is it enough to simply attend a course and expect that it will lead to increasing the probability of project management success?

The cynic in me says; we all know what happens when we return to work from a course. The first couple of hours is catching up – emails, phone calls, what happened at the meeting etc and then it’s into your meetings….

Action plans from courses often require behaviour change

For those points above to be introduced needs and takes time PLUS real behaviour change. For example, what needs to be done to deal with the role issue? Possibly it is something that has been festering for a while and the course has highlighted something needs to be done. But what?

Change takes time! The impact of training takes time and it needs to be combined with other elements. But what? Here are some of the things you may want to consider:

1. Coaching individual project managers to deliver their projects on a one to one basis
2. Running follow up sessions with the same group of delegates who come along with actual projects to work on
3. Working with project teams to support delivery of a specific project
4. Training project sponsors to ensure they support delivery of a specific projects
5. Creating challenge and support group working
6. Running a series of workshops e.g. risk management which goes into further depth or influencing skills which compliments the project management training
7. Putting a person with an experienced project manager and letting them see how it’s done (but there needs to be some excellent review processes built in for the person being mentored)
8. Pre and post course briefing by line managers
9. Ensuring the person who has been on the course works on a project as soon as they return to work

What’s on your list?

I believe we need more than project management courses to really develop project management skills. We need to go beyond the formal training room. There is a need for a more integrated approach to developing staff.

There of course many more ways than mentioned above. Why not give us your views as to what should be included?