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Posts tagged ‘communication’

The Importance of Executive Leadership in Successful Projects – Part I

Today’s guest blogger is Don Pagel, Vice President, Public Sector Services at Kronos.  As the former Deputy Director in the Office of the Mayor for the City of Houston, Don has a lot of experience with project management particularly around large technology deployments like ERP’s.  In this two-part series, Don will share his wisdom and insight on Executive Leaders and their role in successful projects.  Projects live and die by the success of both project management and organizational change management.   The more complex the project is; the more people it touches; the more change it creates in the daily activities of those people, the more critical it is to plan, execute, control and lead. My father once taught me that you “manage” things, but you “lead” people. I raised three boys and thus spent a great deal of time in Boy Scouts. At one particular troop meeting, a patrol was on stage performing a silly skit to keep the scouts entertained. As the skit is progressing, an assistant scoutmaster keeps walking across the stage in front of the skit dragging a rope. Finally, after the third time, the other assistant scoutmaster helping the boys with their skit, turned and loudly called to the other, “Fred, why on earth do you keep dragging that rope around?”. Fred responds, “Have you ever tried to push a rope?” The implication of that simple statement was astounding to me. Project management is all about managing cost, time and scope….things. Organizational change management is about leading people through the change caused by the implementation of the project. Leadership requires knowledge, trust, influence, faith and vision. People do not like to be pushed and generally respond like the assistant scoutmaster’s rope. But given the right leader who has vision, people will follow willingly. Leadership does not require position or title just as position and title do not guarantee followers. The most important leader in a project is the executive sponsor. This is the person who both sees the value of the project and has the fiscal responsibility for its charter as well as its success. That said, every team member has the responsibility to help lead through the change that a project creates and help support the executive sponsor.

Knowledge

Knowledge requires effort and involvement. It is not necessary that the executive sponsor understand the details of the product being implemented but should invest the time and effort into understanding the product well enough to ask appropriate questions to make effective decisions. Additionally, the proper level of understanding can lead to trust in the product that allows the development of a vision. Lack of knowledge, or lack of involvement will lead to poorly executed projects.

Trust

Leadership requires trust. Trust in the product and more importantly, trust in the team you have assembled to implement the product. The team needs to feel that trust as well. Mistakes will be made and you want your team to stretch and be personally empowered, so they need to feel that “you’ve got their back”. Trust in both the product and team also enables the executive sponsor to exude faith and vision to external stakeholders. Lack of trust will cause fear, uncertainty and project stagnation because no one will feel comfortable to make a decision. In Part II, Don will explore other important leadership traits such as influence, faith, and vision…

You’re communicating, but is anyone listening?

It’s no secret that communicating is vital to creating a better work environment. But just because supervisors make the effort to inform employees of something they should be aware of, doesn’t mean they understand its importance. “Why should I care, that’s someone else’s problem” is an opinion based off of misperception. Employees can’t always make heads or tails of what an announcement means to them or their group.

In a recent blog* from HR Schoolhouse’s Robin Schooling, she describes the crucial points to communicating in a way for everyone to understand why they should be listening.
1. Ensure communication is targeted and timely – Right info, right employees, right time
2. Promote interaction – Get some dialogue going
3. Consider format and platforms – Communication platforms should be easy to access

Before supervisors send out the next “memo”, they should give some thought as to what an employee needs to take away from the intelligence. Relay the information in a way that gives the recipients a chance to make an educated decision to take action or not. Regardless of which department or agency it comes from, there are always other groups who could benefit. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll start listening.
*From Informing to Engaging: Communicating Effectively in Organizations – Posted 3/4/14 by Robin Schooling

Give change a chance

Today’s guest blogger, Linda Misegadis, brings us some thoughtful insight on the concept of change.  Linda is a Public Sector Industry Consultant at Kronos and a  PROSCI Certified Change Manager.  As the former Director of Citywide Payroll and Administration Services at the City & County of Denver, Linda has first-hand experience on how the right kind of change can lead to powerful results. 

A couple of weeks ago our youngest son called us and told us that he needed to talk to his dad and me.  He is in his second year of college, majoring in business and our immediate thought was that he wanted to drop out of school.  While we had no real reason to suspect this, it is where our thoughts went.

For an entire week my husband and I speculated on what we thought he needed to tell us that he couldn’t just say over the phone.  We have always had a very open relationship with him, so we were a bit confused by this change.

Finally the long awaited day arrived when we were to find out what it was that he needed to talk to us about.  We arrived home and there he was; at the kitchen table (that he had cleared which he never does), with his laptop and a power point presentation (which he had never done before) and glasses of water for the three of us.  As you can imagine, this caught us a bit off guard.  After all, this is not how we have always done things in our home.  So, my husband and I sat down and braced ourselves for the news, prepared to talk through whatever it might be.  What transpired was our son thinking through what he wanted to discuss with us, what he  was hoping to achieve, putting a plan together and trying a new way of having that conversation.  He knew that if he did it the same way he always had that he might not get the answer he was hoping to receive.  He walked through his power point and asked us to hold our feedback until he had completed the entire presentation.  Because of this change or different approach his dad and I had an opportunity to change the way we communicate with him.

I share this story because my job is to help people in government, to change the way they do things.  I challenge them to look at things differently and realize that just because it has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the right way.

It is easy to tell people that they should change, but change is very personal, even in our jobs.  It took our son changing the way he communicates with us to get a different response.  If he would have done what he has always done he would have got what he has always gotten.  If we would not have been open to the change, the conversation might have gone much different.

What I have learned in both my personal and business life, is that the only constant is change.  While it is not always easy to do, it is required for us to grow personally and professionally.  So I challenge each of you to look at each day with a fresh perspective and open your mind to doing things different.  Sometimes it will make things better, sometimes it might not change anything and sometimes it might not work, but you won’t know until you try.

The end of the story is that our son didn’t want to quit college, just change schools and majors.  He is an aspiring musician and producer and wants to go somewhere that can help him achieve his goals.  He will be moving to Arizona next Fall.  This will be another big change for his Dad and me, but we are ready to embrace this new path and he has our full support.