March 20, 2014

Is coaching the very new key success factor to make project management more efficient?

BY :     March 20, 2014

personal-trainerBeing a Project Manager is a hard job. Very demanding!

A good Project Manager needs to have both technical and soft skills. He has to deal with many stakeholders, from very different organizations. Technological complexity is everyday bigger, and understanding business needs is not always obvious – furthermore, quality expectation is nowadays very, very high, and there is no choice: success is expected, and pressure is high. The last issue for the Project manager is not the smallest one: he is expected to keep focused both to the technical and financial result. This may potentially turn him mad!

In this kind of demanding job, there are many controls of any kind – but what about help?  As a Project Manager, you’ll be requested to produce at least 3 or 4 types of reporting, and you’ll have to explain your choices– but what if you’re in doubt?

Sometimes, there is a PMO helping for planning and reporting tasks, and sometimes it’s the Project Director who comes to steering committees. Most often, it is not possible or necessary to have daily presence of a third party helping with the project management because of costs constraints, first, but also to keep a more distant and objective eye on the project. Considering all this, is there an “ideal support” that could be given to the Project Manager regarding all the problems he is coping with? What if a coach could be systematically part of delivery systems?

As I’m quite convinced that this is a real good approach, I’ve tried to implement it, as a “proof of concept” before turning it into a real offer for Sogeti.

And now, I can confirm that it has a huge benefit : via a weekly meeting (or one every two weeks) with his coach, the Project Manager is more confident and takes more time to think of the real issues, not only the short-term and non-critical incidents. He is now able to work on the “global picture” and keep aligned with the project priorities, which is the first purpose of the coaching: ensure the success of the project – but with very precise and clear objectives – for the client and for the team.

The coaching process for Project management is standard: see previous post!! But in project management, the result is self-sufficient: during the last few months, I have coached no less than five Project managers who turned their project to success while they were blocked on many aspects, such as: customer satisfaction and management efficiency. With one coaching a week, they were more confident to solve project management issues, and the project became more successful.

The following verbatim give a good idea of what benefit coaches got from coaching:

  • “More personal engagement from the project leaders.”
  • “Efficient and tangible tools to put things into action.”
  • “An eye with a neutral view but with pragmatic approach to reach goals.”

The idea is here again to commit to the objective, define ways to reach it based on your resources, build an action plan, and keep focused on that plan! Analyze risks to reach the goals, asks questions, and let the Project Manager find the answers. . Help the Project Manager think to all aspects, from technical standards to human issues, and support, remotivate and help the right solution each time !

If you’ve ever been a Project Manager once in your life, and you had a hard time, next time, you’ll request your boss to be accompanied by a coach, won’t you?

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*Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group