Improving Executive Engagement Project Leaders Group Adrian Boyd, 7th June 2011
Agenda • Explore experience of the Project Leaders Group • Expectations of Executives • Problem Situations • Matrix Organisations • Overseas Executives • Where the project fits the big picture • Some ideas from the Consulting profession • Summary
Experience of the Project Leaders Group? • Running projects with Exec engagement • Performing Exec role with projects on-going • Vendor role (e.g. consulting, project services, etc.) • International Company with offshore Execs • Heavy “Matrix Management”
Expectations of Executives • “Projects always over-run and cost more than plan and don’t deliver on benefits” • “This is a major strategic project and is critical to our future – I must stay very close to this project” • “The boss is keen on this project so I had better be seen to be supporting the work – but I don’t see benefits for me” • “As CFO I must make sure that this project stays on budget” • “Why are we spending time and money on this when we have many more immediate issues that we need to address?” • “This project does not affect my area so I will leave it to my people” • You will have more examples and “war stories”
Problem Situations • Disharmony in Executive Team • Turnover in Executive Team • Focus on other issues • Blame Culture Other experiences?
Some Ideas • Consider “style” of the Executive • Facts/details versus big picture • Long term versus short term focus • Team/company versus personal ambition • See it from the Executive’s viewpoint • Keep message simple “elevator story” • Bad News – give Exec a “story” to use
Some ideas…. How to build Executive Engagement? • Confidence – some early successes / deliverables & demonstrate consistency in performance plus self confidence • Commitment – strong work ethic and visible energy as a catalyst for change • Communication – regular, consistent communication within and outside the project to Executives, Stakeholders, and others Project Leaders Group ideas??
Matrix Organisations!! What is different in a Matrix Organisation? • Differing Agenda • Line Management is less effective • Decision making is more complex • Broader range of inputs (good??) and different levels of knowledge Look out for informal Matrix Organisation
Overseas Executives!! Who has to engage with Overseas Executives?? Consider:- • Culture • Status • Decision making • Style & content of communications • Knowledge of marketplace • Preconceptions What experiences in PL Group??
Where the project fits into big picture? Does one of these fit? • Fighting for survival • Successfully competing • Leading the Industry Demonstrate real world awareness by referencing current business focus & goals relating your project to the “big picture”
Some ideas from the Consulting Profession Identify all Executives and Stakeholders Identify current connections and knowledge Plan an engagement approach Assign responsibilities Detailed analysis of each Executive Regular communication sessions and feedback to Account Manager (Program Director)
Some ideas on Executive Engagement from the Consulting Profession • Who do we both know • Area of responsibility and key issues • Time in role • Sphere of influence • Career expectancy • Past experience with change projects • Key contributions to date • Close network and supporters / adversaries • Personality • Decision making style • Reporting lines • Matrix / Overseas influences • Level of ambition • Facts / detail versus overview / summary • Willingness to engage • Purchasing power / budget
Some ideas on Executive Engagement from the Consulting Profession • Define frequency of engagement • Report on meeting • Actions/agreements/issues/good news/ bad news/ next meeting/ • Update “Executive Profile” • Advise “Chemistry” and consider changes • Formal Reviews with team – project task
Summary Make engagement a formal regular task Personalise for the Executive Keep it “simple” Big Picture, simple analogies, etc Relate it to the Business Goals Take time to Educate Executives Review engagement actions and results Work out who NOT to allow to communicate with Executives!!
Final Thought There is no one answer to successful Executive Engagement. It requires constant work and attention and awareness of changes in business focus, people & attitudes both internally and externally. Many Thanks & Good Luck!!