Total was seven. Last week was the first Prowess Project certification and I teared up seven times. We call it the first “one to many” certification. We have done lots of testing of our certification, but were typically training one person at a time. Obviously, that doesn’t scale and so we worked around the clock to bring a virtual, interactive certification experience to seven wonderful women to help them mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to take on projects and join the Prowess Project team.
The certification is no-joke. It’s a 16+ hour commitment to be done in two weeks with a 2+ hour test at the end. The certification covers project management concepts, communication & facilitation skills, and most importantly, how to take care of YOU and ensure what you want for your life aligns with what you are doing now.
I was learning just as much…
As much as the gals taking the certification were learning, I was learning just as much. Below are MY top certification lessons-learned that we’re going to nail moving forward:
Attendees want to interact, especially since they are remote
Day 1 of the certification, we were all ready – technology tested, dog in his crate to prevent background barking, and my phone timer handy to stay on track – the whole shebang. We kicked the session off precisely at 10:00am and were maniacally focused on timing so that we could end at the top of the hour. We’re a project management company after all – we BEST be on time ourselves. Problem was, we were so focused on delivering the content, that I didn’t take a moment for everyone on the phone to introduce themselves. We went through the slides, quickly asked for questions and to no surprise …. Crickets. Luckily (I guess) due to being a bit nervous and little to no interaction, we wrapped up ten minutes early. Since we had that extra time, I went down the attendee list and had everyone give a 30 second hello. Within a matter of moments, I could feel all ten of us collectively exhale. I’m a huge proponent of keepin’ it casual but in fear of running out of time, I completely forgot my own advice. Once we got to hear the voices, stories and backgrounds of everyone on the phone, it no longer felt like we were in a buttoned up classroom, but instead felt that rush you get when you find your tribe.
Don’t wait ‘til the end to survey
The online portion of the certification is one hour a day for four consecutive days. The attendees had an overview of what topics would be covered which day but it didn’t go into great detail. Also given this was our first “on to many” certification, we weren’t sure if the amount and depth of content was appropriate for each topic. During our 1:1 sessions, we were able to adjust the content to meet the person where she was when it came to knowledge about that specific topic. With several folks on the line, that wasn’t an option. By asking the attendees to take a SurveyMonkey survey (it’s free btw) we were able to get precise feedback on each topic vs. asking the attendees to sum up the full four hours in one survey at the end. As for the survey, I know, I know, less is more, but I’m glad that we didn’t shy away from the free response questions. The responses like, “Loved the content and could have chatted way longer” and “I can tell how much work went into this. Wonderful!” makes all the late nights and early mornings well, well worth it.
Since you’re the teacher, you must be the MOST vulnerable
Like it or not, as the leader, you’re gonna have to bare all. They say culture comes from the top down, so I couldn’t possibly expect these women to divulge experiences or failures (gasp!) without me taking the plunge first. As soon as I opened up about examples of projects I’ve tackled or scenarios that made me feel uncomfortable – they followed suit and it made the content that much richer. In retrospect, I wish I would have talked more about the times I’ve screwed up. Though I’m the leader, I’m still human, and most of the time, failing is the best way to learn. I’ll never be ashamed of times that I’ve taken chances and it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Foreshadowing of future blog posts? I think so 🙂
As I’m writing this blogpost, I’m tearing up for yet the eighth time thinking about how grateful I am for the Prowess Project team and the seven applicants and potentially future project facilitators. Together we’re going to bring a tribe of strong, capable and empowered women to the workforce like never before.
Until next time,