Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who is the Go-to Senior Manager During a Project?

The Project Manager (PM) has limitations to his/her authority during a project. Since a project is a temporary endeavor, there is a limitation inherent to it which can limit the PM’s influence.   So, the PM must know who is the final decision maker for the project. Most of the time, this is the project sponsor. Sometimes, the PM must go out of the “inner-circle” of the project and go to a mentor or senior manager who knows the organization very well. So, what is a PM to do?
Establish a network, and include senior managers
When a PM joins an organization, one of the first things he/she must do is to begin to lay the groundwork to become an effective PM. One of the tasks is to establish his/her network in that organization. How a PM does that is by beginning to conduct the work he/she has been hired to do and observe the actions of management. Sooner rather than later, the PM will begin to see a pattern in the person or persons who seem to make the final decision(s).  Those are the people whom the PM must associate with. 
Now if one of the influential senior managers becomes a project sponsor on one of the PM’s projects, that alignment becomes a little easier. Allow me to be clear: I am NOT suggesting kissing up for the sake of getting favors. Most senior managers will see right through that and will react negatively to that action. What I am suggesting takes more effort than just kissing up. I am not suggesting that the PM take an interest in the senior manager’s personal life. What I am suggesting is that the PM meet with the senior manager and inquire as to what aspects he/she considers to be most important to the project. The PM should understand the senior manager’s pain points regarding the project and what the senior manager expects from the project team.
What is the value proposition?
The question of value proposition is typically thought of in the context of employment: How can the applicant show their value or worth to the hiring organization to acquire the position? However, value proposition can also be considered in the context of project delivery. If the PM wants to have the senior manager as an ally, the PM must communicate and deliver the value of the project. If the PM can explain and deliver the value, the senior manager, as well as other senior managers, will take notice. The value of the PM goes up as he/she is viewed as successful.
This can usually be communicated easily if the project has been aligned strategically with the organizations goals. If the project sponsor understands this, then explaining the value proposition of the project is easily done.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

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