PRINCE2 Junior Project manager jobs
If you are considering moving into project management, or you are in a supporting role, then this article will be invaluable for you.
Many of my project management coaching students are in that exact situation and are looking to grow their careers and salary by transitioning into project management.
In the UK for example, the average salary for a project manager job is £57,500 gross per year, which is £27,900 (+94%) higher than the UK’s national average salary.
The highest salaries can exceed £135,200. Total compensation includes salary, bonus, and profit-sharing.
Many junior project managers start that career by working in a project management office (PMO), Although some move straight into a junior project manager job.
Your role as Junior project manager means that you respect your team enough to create a successful working environment for them and learn from the mistakes/ issues that you encounter.
Remember, every day in your project is a learning opportunity that you should choose to learn from.
Here at The Projex Academy, we provide a wide range of project management skills knowledge, and experience training with the most popular choice, becoming a PRINCE2 Practitioner.
The quickest way to become competent in the PRINCE2 Method is by taking our PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Masterclass.
For those who prefer personal one-to-one coaching, we offer our PRINCE2 Practitioner Coaching Program.
Advice for those applying for a junior project manager job
As an ambassador for the project management profession, I enjoy working with individuals who are looking to move into the growing and much in demand career of project management.
Interestingly, this demand has grown larger since the COVID pandemic, to the point where organizations are desperate to train staff members and transition their careers into project management.
Particularly in PRINCE2 which can be universally applied to any project in any industry, and in any environment.
Nearly every day I am asked the best way to develop project management skills and experience.
Indeed, the most common question is “how can I improve my project management skills, and become a better and more sought-after junior project manager?”
With that in mind, this article is to give you some key advice, hints, and guidance as well as best practices in the art and science of project management.
In fact, taking this advice will do you no harm at all when polishing up your CV and answering questions at project management job interviews!
My focus here will be on the soft skills of project management, as it goes without saying that you will need to understand project management basics such as planning, monitoring, and control.
Both PRINCE2 and PMP advise that the most important and often used skill of a competent junior project manager is that of communication. Indeed, during the daily life of a junior project manager communication makes up 80% of their daily responsibilities.
So, let’s start there:
Written (including email!) Communication
Style and Approach
The style and approach you would use will depend on the situation of course, but for those moving into project management there are two traps they need to avoid:
The first trap is being over-formal and communicating in a general report writing style. Although precise and accurate, this style makes for heavy reading.
So instead, I recommend you use a conversational style, which brings me to my second point.
A good way to practice this is to use a speech-to-text application such as the one included within Microsoft Word. You will be surprised how much more clearly your message and intentions come across.
As an example, when I create my video-based project management training courses, I hold a picture in my head of a friend or colleague, instead of seeing myself talking to a classroom, I see myself as talking to a single individual.
A word of warning here, it is important to address people properly and finding the balance between formal and informal language.
It’s one thing to address folks on social media in a very casual way, whereas sending information to stakeholders, management, or customers would require some degree of formality. Nonetheless, be wary of structuring your sentences and paragraphs in formal “management-speak”.
Whenever communicating, a golden rule is to think about the outcome you are trying to achieve. So, before you start writing or typing, consider the following points:
- Clarify the communication objectives, and make sure the content of the message does not stray from these objectives
- If you are providing advice and guidance, consider giving it in the form of points or bullet points, again to help the reader absorb and understand your information
- If you are asking for information or advice, again be precise in what these areas are
- Clarify what actions, if any, you are asking for
Don’t be afraid of white space
The worst type of emails I receive are those where the writer sent me ten packed lines of information merely separated by the occasional full stop or period.
Finally, the most obvious trap is only sending this information to those who have a need to receive it, or at a minimum, are responsible for being kept informed.
I once had a boss who felt he should share everything with those who worked for him as a mark of being a good communicator. This had the opposite result he was looking for.
Speaking for myself, whenever I saw an email from him, I would quickly look at the subject line and if it was one of that marked ‘FYI Only’, I would file it away without reading.
The use of meetings for communication
Modern technology allows us to use applications such as Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams for remote audio or video meetings.
Yet the same guidelines for great communication applied to those as well as traditional face-to-face meetings.
Beware of the trap of setting “regular” meetings unless essential to do so.
Meetings are the biggest killer of people’s time, energy, and enthusiasm!
So before setting up any meeting, from the standpoint of communication, ask what the objective and agenda of such a meeting is.
Ensure all attendees have been chosen because they will need to contribute to the outcome of that meeting.
Beware of allowing others to “sit in” and observe the meeting. these people are distractions, and if one insists, then offer to provide them with the minutes of the meeting.
If you are the meeting moderator, then firmly drive the meeting through the agenda, and insist if any attendees introduce topics that do not contribute to the meeting outcome, that these items must be taken offline.
If a meeting has six attendees and lasts one hour, you have used six person-hours of effort. So be frugal with meeting times and bring them to a close as soon as possible.
The golden rule here is to ask yourself can the objective of the meeting be met by other means, such as giving or collecting data via emails with yourself acting as the moderator and distributing the result to those involved.
Predictive and Agile project methods
It can’t have escaped your attention that over the past decade or so that iterative and Incremental projects are being used more and more as well as the traditional plan-driven or waterfall approach projects.
Agile/scrum uses a daily meeting as well as review and retrospective meetings.
That daily meeting must only last 15 minutes and be done with all attendees standing up (it is also called the daily stand-up meeting for this reason).
The agile review meeting is there to demonstrate progress and the key stakeholders of the customer and users.
Again, following the rule of clarifying the meeting objective and inviting only those stakeholders that have a need to be there.
The final point I wish to make about meetings, in general, is that you should share the output outcome or minutes of the meeting in a timely manner with the most appropriate individuals.
As a junior project manager, I would make it a priority that apart from grabbing a quick cup of coffee, to first type up the minutes and distribute them making sure that any actions required are clearly articulated.
If such actions need to be gathered and implemented, then again do this as swiftly as possible and feed those outcomes back to appropriate individuals.
Creating an effective project team
To aid communication it is important that all team members have been chosen with four key characteristics in mind:
Team members should be senior enough to be able to make appropriate decisions and should be made accountable for such areas. The individuals chosen must have sufficient authority to make these decisions.
The credibility of project team members will affect their ability to carry out their responsibilities. If they are not seen as credible by others communication effectiveness will be reduced.
Ability to delegate
Any role within a project requires thought about how much detail they should be involved with, and where appropriate, delegate such work areas to others.
The objective here is to keep the individual efficient and effective without being overloaded, as this will lead to poor communication, plus errors and mistakes.
Probably the most important yet overlooked attribute of choosing a project team member. Even if all the other elements I have mentioned above are in place, the individual will be of little value to the project if they are not available to carry out their work and make decisions.
The mark of a professional junior project manager whether junior or senior is that they conduct themselves well and demonstrate honesty and integrity
Treat others as you wish to be treated is a good starting point!
Since projects can last from months to years, strong relationships will build up with all those involved in the project from the junior project manager downwards and outwards.
A mistake new junior project managers often make is to try to become good friends with their team and there is a dividing line between being good to work with versus demonstrating leadership skills.
Simple things such as are you talking to your team in an appropriate manner?
For conversations with your team that may be seen as inappropriate, the best guideline I can give here Is not to use language and topics that might be fun in a bar and stop language that would be inappropriate to the gender of those on the project team.
This is a deep and complex topic, but to keep it simple, keep your management mindset front and center when carrying out all communication within your project
A good junior project manager will instinctively know when such communication needs to be done in a formal and assertive manner, and when to move to a more conversational communication style.
No Plan Survives First Contact with the Enemy
In the PRINCE2 Method, there is something known as the planning horizon.
This means that the junior project manager will need a high-level plan covering the entire project, splitting that plan into stages or phases, and as the end of each stage nears completion, creating the next stage plan in more detail.
This enables the junior project manager to keep the focus on the high-level view as well as being able to monitor manage and control the details.
The watchword for a junior project manager is that they carry out day-to-day management within the project.
And herein lies a few potential communication problems for junior or inexperienced junior project managers!
Once a plan has been approved by management, it is the project manager’s job to monitor manage, and control against that plan. In essence, this seems quite simple.
The junior project manager will collect actual information on progress on a regular basis, compare this with what the plan said would happen, identify any variances from the plan and take some form of corrective action.
Paralysis by analysis
“When you are up to your ears in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp!”
As a driver for great communication, it is imperative that the junior project manager continually prioritizes their time and actions. worrying about countless small details distracts the junior project manager from the most important objectives of the day.
You have probably heard of the 80/20 rule, which is stated in many ways. One of them is you need to find the 20% of actions (called the vital few), that provide 80% of the important outcomes.
This too is a large topic, and my best advice is to get into the habit of writing a daily To-Do list in strict priority order.
As an example, first thing in the morning, after grabbing a cup of coffee, you should strictly adhere to that list (or make one if that’s your first task).
Beware of email (or social media such as Facebook) sucking time out of the early part of your day.
I would quickly skim the name of those sending an email to me and then the subject line to decide whether that needs a swift response, or whether done later (get into the habit of clearing your email list at the end of the day).
Become a Problem Solver
As well as giving out work to others, see yourself as someone who can deal with issues and problems daily, quickly develop options to resolve or minimize such problems, and then implement swift action to resolve them.
Root cause analysis is a great tool here to zone in one the root causes of a problem and fix that first – not the outcomes. Do this and resolution will quickly follow.
I have interviewed and hired hundreds of junior project managers and have developed a great technique for deciding who I will hire.
This could be a good piece of advice for your CV or resume as well as an interview technique.
Whenever I would ask a question, I would respond to the answer by saying something along the lines of “So what was the outcome of that?”
After their second response to the same question, I would ask again what the outcome until such a point was that the truth is uncovered.
A very human trait of all of us, project managers included, is to talk of what you were and what you were responsible for e.g. “I was responsible for a team of fifteen engineers”
Asking the ‘so what’ question encourages the interviewee to explain the outcome.
I was always looking for those who achieved benefits for their organization, rather than those just with power, authority, and seniority.
Elon Musk was recently asked what he looks for in new employees to SpaceX. His response was interesting.
He was looking for innovators and for those who accepted they would fail sometimes but do so fast and fix quickly! Elon’s philosophy was that those who never make mistakes are not innovating.
That can be applied directly to junior project managers looking to become a proficient junior project manager.
Manage Your Time
Project management is a voracious time stealer if you let it. Everyone is after a piece of you and holding you accountable for all you do.
A comment I often hear is that being ain project management is stressful and means working long hours. This is broadly true, but not inevitable.
Applying the ideas, I have presented in this article will fast-track you to apply successfully for junior project manager jobs.
But good time management is vital.
I fell into the trap of working long hours and taking work home at weekends, and it resulted in burn-out and damage to my family life. This is NOT inevitable.
Working long and hard is crazy – you need to work effectively and efficiently.
Remember, Effective best describes the actual power or capability to produce an effect. Efficient describes potential for results produced with less time, resources, and energy
I have covered the main elements of time management already, including To-Do lists, and warnings about emails,
Before you do anything else, hop on over to Projex Academy and check out the comprehensive set of video-based online project management training we provide.
Pay particular attention to mastering the PRINCE2 Methodology and becoming a PRINCE2 Practitioner – in local government jobs, for example, this qualification is mandatory before a move can be made into project management.
If, right now, becoming a PRINCE2 Practitioner is a must-have and critical for your career and increasing salary, then check out my personal one-to-one PRINCE2 Practitioner Coaching Program.
No one has failed after becoming one of my coaching students!
If you are a junior project manager (or considering moving into project management), let me help fast-track your exciting new career!