October 24, 2014

Why would a project leader need a coach when he already has a manager? What about having more “manager coach”?

BY :     October 24, 2014

-up-clipart-14A majority of  large projects are always in trouble (showing partial or complete combination of overspending, delays or a reduction in their expected scope) or abandoned (“failed” – along the way by their sponsors), while only 16% of projects are considered successful (report of Standish Group in 1994, still valid 20 years later)! However, in each of these IT companies or departments, the “management” layer is present and there is no reason why it should be considered as inefficient “a priori”. So, why doesn’t it succeed regarding project management, and, coming back to our previous posts, why would a coach be more efficient than a manager?

It has already been said that a coach is focused on helping the coachee to keep focused on his objective. This objective is very specific and thought to be achieved in a given, and relatively short, schedule. For example, the success of the project regarding the Cost/Quality/Delay triptych can be THE objective!

A manager is not on the same axes – he may be focused on more strategic views, not so specific objectives. He has to control, to decide from a hierarchical standpoint.
A project leader needs to be known and supported by his manager, but this manager cannot help on a specific basis toward the project success. A coach may, because he has no given role in the company, have only one goal: make the coachee succeed – step by step, with engagement and energy!

It is also interesting to note that being a coach is mostly focused on creating an environment for development and growth that allows coachees to learn by themselves, solve problems, and fulfill their ambitions. Considering this, managers can adopt a “manager coach” posture.

Indeed, skills, tools and strategies deployed by professional coaches can be applied extensively by leaders and managers to develop high performance results from their staff. This can be done in many situations, such as crisis management in the team (help the team find its own solution instead of drastic hierarchical judgment), or, more positively, in carrier development of key people (helping the resource to develop his own virtual virtuous circle).

I took this posture to prepare a critical executive committee for a project requiring high level technical skills in an ever-changing context: the team manager was depressed, felt alone,  and could no longer propose solutions to solve critical issues — every decision was hard to make … the customer was angry, the project was almost blocked.  Asking the right questions helped the team leader to identify that he needed a meeting with his experts. The objective was to build scenarios together. He realized that he had to think “out of the logical box”. The meeting occurred, and, almost magically, new options were discovered and could be presented in detail to the executive committee, where dialog between Sogeti and the customer was more constructive!
A coach is a partner toward success. In this case, the success was no longer impossible to reach!Why not develop such a posture during annual appraisals, negotiating objectives, recruitment, development and monitoring of projects, or simply while conducting meetings?

In fact, the skills and the framework of coaching can be implemented in an effective and relevant way in almost all aspects of management and leadership!

This is not a big innovation, just think about it next time you act as a manager. Try to be a “manager coach” – it makes sense J

Want to read more? (in french) http://www.lesechos.fr/idees-debats/cercle/cercle-76955-le-manager-coach-nouvelle-posture-du-manager-1017641.php

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