015-Meet your Mentor! Learn about Mentorship with PMO Joe
In today’s episode, Phoenix-based head of The PMO Squad, Joe Pusz (also known in the PM community as PMO Joe) will share his knowledge on Mentorship with us. In addition to his deep experience on the topic, his organization partners with Vets to PM, a mentorship program which pairs US Veterans with experienced PMs to help them enter the PM field. PMO Joe is a master of Mentorship, and helps us understand the benefits to both the Mentor and Mentee, and shares some valuable tips for getting engaged.
Not only are there short-term benefits from mentorship, but you will be building long-term relationships. You may even start a podcast together one day 🙂
ABOUT OUR GUEST, Joe Pusz (PMO Joe)
As Founder & President of THE PMO SQUAD, Joe is the driving force and initial SQUAD member. THE PMO SQUAD focuses exclusively on Project Management Solutions covering client needs with Project Management Resources, Processes, and Technology. Known as PMO JOE, he leverages his experience from leading corporate PMOs to provide services which satisfy real world Project Management needs. Joe has lead Project Management functions in several industries including Aerospace & Defense, Aviation, Finance, Healthcare, and Technology organizations with budgets up to $600MM+. Joe is also a strong supporter of Veterans services which lead to starting the Veterans Project Management Mentoring Program which pairs Veterans with PMP Mentors across the United States.
Need PM? Or want to get engaged in Vets 2 PM? See below for Joe’s contact information
Read about and follow Joe’s organization, PMO Squad
To learn more about the Veterans to PM mentorship program:
PMO Joe’s Radio Show
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Today, we have the privilege to speak with a person who has a deep experience on mentorship programs: PMO Joe. According to PMO Joe, we have to lift as we climb, and as we become more experienced, we have to find ways on how we can help the people in the future.
Who is PMO Joe? [1:58]
PMO Joe or Joe Pusz is the founder and president of PMO Squad, and is based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is partnered with two organizations, namely Vets to PM and Veterans to work.
Through these organizations, they introduce and mentor veterans in the world of project management, and provide education on getting back to the civilian world.
Joe has also lead Project Management functions in several industries, one of which cost $600M.
How did Joe start in the field of project management? [3:10]
Joe started as a system’s consultant in a big software company. He didn’t realize that he was already working on a project until his manager asked him about the status of his project.
It was at this point when he realized that there was a career for him in project management, and that he had a natural talent for it.
Joe’s favorite thing about project management [4:07]
For Joe, projects are the most important thing a company could work on. Through project management, he gets to be in the center of the action.
He thinks that whatever it is the company chooses to do as a project is important, and he wants to be a part of that.
The most valuable lesson in project management that Joe learned the hard way [4:47]
“Everybody fails on projects”, according to Joe. But the most valuable lesson he learned is the importance of communication.
When he was starting, he had a hard time motivating and influencing people. It was difficult for him to sit down with this team and drive them to get a job done. Hence, iteration after iteration had to be done. Soft skills, he learned, is what separates the good from the great.
Joe discussing his new radio show [7:01]
He was given the privilege to host Phoenix Business Radio X, which is part of the broader Business Radio X network that started in Atlanta. They invited him as guest in Phoenix and Atlanta and after three episodes, and was eventually asked to host his own show.
Now, every first and third Thursday he be hosts Project Management Office Hours, a radio show dedicated to project management best practices, success stories, and lessons learned. This is to help give project management a voice in Phoenix, Arizona. Their goal is to educate, elevate, and execute to help organizations to do better project management.
Joe talking about Veterans to Work and Vets to PM [9:20]
Joe is an advocate of mentorship programs, and is currently part of two organizations which help veterans transition back to being civilians. Specifically, he’s helping them build a new career through project management. Through Vets to PM, veterans are enrolled to project management programs. The process includes quarterly waves, until each mentee has established their career through project management.
Joe on Mentorship [12:40]
Joe has learned a lot since the beginning of his career, and fortunate to be mentored by two key coaches in his career. When he was young, Joe admitted of being proud because he thought he knew how to do his job. But when he met his leaders, he learned new perspectives. They taught him how to grow with managerial courage and interpersonal skills. Hence, when he matured he decided to give back to the community. This started in Atlanta with the local PMI chapter. From there, he continued joining organizations and mentoring people.
Benefits of mentees in a mentorship program [14:44]
- Mentees get advice on how to get PMP certified
- Adjustment on the the absence of the chain of command used in the military
- Tips on interviews
- Mentee’s learn about general soft skills so they are more confident in talking to colleagues, especially in difficult situations
Mentor-Mentee relationship [20:08]
According to Joe, just like all projects are unique, so are relationships. Ultimately, it is the mentee who drives the relationship because they are the one who needs help; whenever the mentee needs help for reviewing process docs or wants to have a discussion, the mentor must free up their time.
If the mentor and mentee are meeting too frequently, Joe’s advocates for greater coaching or professional development. As far as how frequent mentors and mentees should meet, seeing each other at least twice a month to discuss what happened in the previous weeks should suffice. According to Joe, the relationship must be personal, rather than simply professional, development. This distinction is especially important so that lessons and growth do not feel forced.
Benefits of a mentor in a mentoring program [22:21]
With the mentorship program, Joe explained that he was able to re-engage on the growth that he learned in the past. He recalled his past experiences being mentored, and how both rewarding and useful it was. In a nutshell, the mentorship program actually gives him more value than the value he got as a mentee.
Joe on mentoring setup [24:05]
Joe prefers an informal set up, as it has less pressure. This was also testified to by several athletes whose letters were included on Denzel Washington’s book “A Hand To Guide”. The informal set up allows you to sit down and talk to somebody, and this gives so much more value to the time you’re spending learning from each other’s experience. An agenda may not be necessary, either, in this scenario- often times he finds that once you start talking on a personal level, people will just open up.
Where to go to start being mentored? [27:01]
Your local PMI chapter is a great place to start. They might not have a formal mentoring program, but they have a lot of project managers who could be your mentor.
Next stop is your own organization. But he suggest that you don’t go to your boss, because the working relationship might supersede the mentee-mentor relationship. You may consider seeking outside your normal circle, or you can leverage an existing relationship. You can also reach out to friends, neighbors, or people from your local church. This might be uncomfortable for some, but it can help you expand and give you opportunities for further growth.
As a mentor, how can I find people to help? [32:17]
Just like mentees, mentors can also go to their local chapter for whatever profession they’re in. Often, programs already exist there, and mentor simply have to join. The internet is also a great avenue- just Google it and see what comes up. But it’s important to not just seek out any mentoring- it has to be something you’re familiar and comfortable with so you can provide the needed guidance.
You have the opportunity, through this, to surround yourself with like-minded people who are also willing to give back to the community. You just need the eyes and ears to find them.
How mentorship can go wrong? [34:24]
Since mentoring is driven by the mentee, they should have a listed formal objectives to pursue. However, if they don’t feel a connection with the mentor, they shouldn’t force it.
If someone approaches you to proactively offer help and say that you seem to need guidance, that’s an immediate sign that it’s not a good situation to be in. Go ahead and run.
Additionally, if you observe that the mentor is not engaged in the relationship, don’t hesitate to end it and look for a new mentor.
Tips for the mentoring relationship to succeed [39:45]
- Respect the confidentiality of discussions and be open and honest in sharing things
- Always be willing to get input that might not be positive
- Recognize that mentoring takes time
- Have the willingness to ask and receive input
- Have an open mind when receiving feedback
Online resources where listeners can go to find out more about mentorship [45:36]
If you are a mentor or a mentee who wants to get into a mentorship program, check out PMO Joe’s site at www.pmosquad.com.
Don’t forget to listen to PM Joe’s online radio show Phoenix Business Radio X, where he hosts every first and third Thursday of the month. You can also tune in at phoenixbusinessradiox.com or listen to recorded podcasts at www.pmosquad.com.