Magazine article Public Management

Inspire Aligned Behavior: An Organizational Constitution Boosts Engagement and Results

Magazine article Public Management

Inspire Aligned Behavior: An Organizational Constitution Boosts Engagement and Results

Article excerpt

Project teams are often the catalyst for change in organizations. They design new systems and new approaches that will require people across their organization to operate differently, to use different systems or tools, and to embrace the new tools nimbly, effectively, and--hopefully--without drama.

You probably have experienced how much easier it is to design a new system than to get people to embrace it. People resist change. They're used to doing it "the old way" and "their way." Even when they're educated about the benefits of the new system and trained to use it, gaining traction with the new approach takes time, energy, reinforcement, and praising of progress, ad nauseam.

Project managers have always faced such challenges as changes in scope, unclear goals, unrealistic deadlines, "real work" demands, a project manager's absence of direct authority over team members, personality conflicts, and so forth.

New trends for project teams include agile project management (beyond software development) and the increasing use of nontraditional collaboration tools like Slack, Yammer, and Jive, which shift daily communications and documentation away from e-mail and project management platforms (http://bit.Iy/2k30suv and http://bit.ly/2mT91xr).

These new trends place greater demands on project managers to not only be comfortable with those approaches and tools, but also to help teach team members how to effectively use them.

Also gaining traction is the requirement for project managers to attend to the people management, "soft skills" side of team leadership. Creating a purposeful, positive, and productive work culture boosts project team member engagement and results, as well as increases service to internal and external customers.

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Overreliance on Announcements

In the face of these myriad team challenges, project managers (and many organizational leaders, for that matter) can often resort to "managing by announcements" or MbA.

This approach is a virus-like plague that causes leaders to announce a new policy or new approach, and then expect that everyone will immediately embrace the new policy because the leader "told them to."

Telling people what to do doesn't always inspire people to do what you want or need them to do. Telling them is a great start. Getting people to embrace the new approach, policy, or tool requires that leaders spend time and energy to ensure people modify their behavior, adapt their approaches, and demonstrate the new requirements. With the MbA approach, project managers announce changes to team members frequently, including goal changes, scope creep, shorter deadlines, and more. In the absence of consistent reinforcement and accountability, those project managers experience widely varying implementation of those changes. …

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