This may seem like a simple question, but the answer is bigger than we think it is. We’ve all grown somewhat immune to the mocking of those in charge – you see the President of the United States and other world leaders mocked on TV and other media all the time. But really, what about the leadership of your company? Do you have confidence in them? Do you think they have your back? Do you feel like they’re leading you, your co-workers … even your customers in the right direction?
I think the answer for many of us is often ‘no.’ And that’s sad. Why is that … why do we feel this way?
Let me look – generically – at situations I’ve both encountered personally at organizations I’ve worked with and for, as well as situations I’ve seen at customers and clients I’ve worked with. I’ll try to not be too specific so you can’t tie a situation back to one of my past employers – but you know who you are!
Examples of leadership failure.
One Fortune 500 organization did very little support their PMO. I was around long enough to see it created, witness it flounder and fail, see it disassembled, and then see it re-assembled. And through all of this, there were other organizations within the company who were acting in renegade mode leading projects – and getting support from executive leadership to do so (crazy!) – while the actual PMO struggled and disintegrated. Rarely have I personally witnessed such an extreme waste of time, effort, good people and good money.
Another organization would continually go through basically what amounted to the ‘flavor of the month’ for continuous improvement programs to the point where employees just went through the motions and you could see it affect their jobs, their attitudes, and – the worst part – how they represented the company to customers and potential clients.
A gaming/hospitality company – a giant in the industry who merged with another industry giant – had some of the worst IT leadership I’ve ever seen. I personally was brought in to lead the application development portion of this organization and the first thing the IT Director did was walk me around and point out everyone he wanted to fire – as we were walking by their desk. Talk about a real people person – a real morale booster. I will happily say that I didn’t end up spending too long at that organization and I fired none of them. They didn’t need to go – it was the IT Director who needed to go and he did…eventually.
The importance of high-level support.
How does this relate to project management? It does in each and every way because project management – especially in an IT organization – is ingrained (or at least should be ingrained) in nearly every aspect of the organization. After all, the projects can come from anywhere, right? PM really knows no boundaries – nearly anything can be a project.
Summary / Call for Input
The key is that your project management structure … whatever that may be, must be supported by your executive leadership if it’s going to remain viable within the organization. If your CEO on down does not support it, then rogue groups may end up leading key projects – circumventing the PM process. I’m not saying that’s ALWAYS a death knell for a companies PM group and processes, but customers will eventually become aware of the internal turmoil and inconsistencies that come with all of that and you can start to see a reduction in customer confidence and satisfaction as a result.
Get the support of your CEO and other executive leadership. Invite them to your some of your weekly PMO group status meetings. Have them sit in on some customer project status calls. Not only will they become involved and see the PMO and project management benefits in general, but your customers will feel extremely important when your CEO takes some time to be part of their project.
What about our readers? Have you suffered through these types of leadership issues, project management / PMO issues? Please share your experiences and discuss.