Gower Publishing, the leading project management publishers have called for PMOs to provide services which help organisations improve their project management capability. Talking ahead of the PMO Conference where Gower will be presenting their PMO titles and new project management knowledge platform, Jonathan Norman highlights how knowledge really can turn into action.
Those working within PMOs are already be painfully aware of the need to improve performance; of the basic fact that a simple PMP or AMP qualification does not mean that the holder can actually run a project or that methodology and process whilst fundamental to managing a project are only loosely connected to project success.
The question asked of many PMO functions is how can they help develop project managers in the necessary skills and competencies to improve project success rates.
Gower highlight the skills that may not be immediately obvious for PMOs looking for new and innovative ways to support project managers.
First is the ability to cope with uncertainty – which translates into an ability to make sense of different options; to communicate complex and complicated ideas; to adapt behaviour and plans, while keeping a firm eye on the desired final outcome;
The second is self-confidence to act – which might perhaps be best expressed in the often-quoted prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”;
The third is self-awareness to understand the impact of what you are doing on others – empathy, communication, imagination are all the staples of effective stakeholder engagement.
Jonathan Norman from Gower Publishing explains why these skills are essential,
“By and large these are not skills that can be acquired simply through training. They are all skills which are learned and which we often associate with experience and with development which suggests that the PMO’s role should involve.” He goes on to highlight three main areas. “These are modelling actions and behaviours for others to follow; coaching and mentoring project managers and facilitating the kind of learning events that enable what Albert Bandura called Social Learning.
Jonathan also highlighted that the solution to providing support and services in these areas to project managers is not easy and encourages PMO professionals to think about the answer to this question:
What is the motivation?
Several motivators are summarised:
Status – can you involve more experienced and senior managers in developing their peers? Focus on the status that you might give them as ‘experts’;
Reciprocity – we’ve all learned about the value of reciprocity thanks to social media. Think about how you might encourage your project teams to share more; emphasise and celebrate successful knowledge shares;
Knowledge self-efficacy – forgive the jargon; this basically implies that you should think about the satisfaction that employees get in a job well-done. It’s a trait that is particularly strong in project managers who are used to delivering against the odds;
Support – if you are running learning events, encourage senior managers to get involved; to give up their time and show their commitment to the PMO; make sure that everyone makes time for these kinds of events and line managers don’t just support their staff when they want to take part but actively get involved; helping them to reflect before and after the event.
Offering praise or rewards for successful outcomes, again with the support and endorsement of senior managers can help develop a sharing culture;
Technology – alongside these longer-term and less tangible motivators, it’s good to give project managers an immediate payoff. That means using technology (whatever you use in terms of intranet, wiki, Sharepoint or other tools) to provide them with instant solutions to immediate problems. Make it easy for them to quiz their colleagues and make any knowledge resources, case examples or other material searchable and findable.
Gower will be demonstrating GpmFirst the new project management knowledge platform at the PMO Conference. The platform enables PMO professionals to strengthen their own project management knowledge and capability as they seek to improve their own organisation’s project management capability.
Gower are also providing a book prize draw at the conference: