Managing up to keep your projects from falling down


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Managing up - Keeping your projects from falling down. Think managing up is just brown-nosing in disguise? Think again. Managing up in projects done well will bring clarity, commitment, ownership, and support your project needs to meet time lines, get resources, and nail project objectives. In this webinar we will explore how to work with higher ranking stakeholders in way that gets results and creates wins all around.

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Managing up to keep your projects from falling down

  1. 1. Managing up – Keeping projects from falling down Your presenter is: Alison Sigmon, M.Ed., LPC, PMP1
  2. 2. What’s on tap for our time together today…  Check roles and responsibilities  Managing up is not kissing up  Assess, Prep, & Deliver to senior management  What you do defines you  Hot tips, best practice  Conclusion 2
  3. 3. Project roles & responsibilities3
  4. 4. Project team members… Project Manager Functional Managers Team Members Business Partners Sponsor Senior Management4
  5. 5. Project family members… Project Manager Project Manager Plan, coordinate, & integrate work efforts of the project Provide leadership and motivation Communicate with stakeholders Manage expectations & conflict Functional Managers Team Members Present issues & make recommendations Be proactive & organized Actively problem solve Facilitate and control the work Maintain Stakeholders focus & commitment Sponsor Understand the (Business Partners) project management process Predict, embrace, & influence the organization Manage & use resources efficiently and effectively Obtain authority to make decisions and take risks in the Senior Management best interest of the project5
  6. 6. Project family members… Senior Management Projects Project Manager Gives project managers authority to get the work done Approves the final project plan Addresses conflicts beyond the project manager’s control Gives time for planning Sets Managers Functionaltriple constraint priorities Members Team Issues and signs the project charter Process Supports the project management process Works with stakeholders to finalize requirements Stakeholdersstatement and scope Sponsor (Business Partners) Clearly communicates project expectations Supports risk identification and contingency planning Project Environment Protects the project from external influences Senior Management Organizes work into projects Determines priorities among projects6
  7. 7. Obstacles to together At any given time, one-third of 90% of PMs time is the workforce is redoing thespent communicating. other two-thirds’ work.  Working at cross purposes; Unclear expectations  Competing agendas and priorities  Turf politics  Lack of alignment or common direction – firefighting results  Agreement on the plan but actions not consistent with decisions  Candid communication and collaboration inhibited  Questionable strategies accepted out of fear of retaliation  Processes not used  Mixed environmental messages about work priorities  Lack of executive management support & stakeholder availability80% of executives say they don’t setaside enough time for analyzing the 65% of top executive teams root cause of problems. say trust is an issue.
  8. 8. Work together differently Managing projects to Coach successful completion means Team working across lines of business with people who might have quite different interests. Peers The trick is to get themCollaborate Senior moving in a common Management direction. But the approach changes based on who they are. Manage Up8
  9. 9. Managing up is not kissing up According to Thomas Zuber and Erika James, managing up is the process of consciously working with senior management to obtain the best possible results for you, for them, for the business, and for the project. not “It‟s political maneuvering or kissing up. It is a deliberate effort to bring understanding and cooperation to a relationship between individuals who often have different perspectives.”9
  10. 10. Managing up is stretching“When someone tells you that you need to „manage up,‟ what he or she is really saying is that you need tostretch yourself. You need to go above and beyond the tasks assigned to you so that you can enhanceyour managers work, says Rosanne Badowski, co-author of Managing Up: How to Forge an EffectiveRelationship With Those Above You.  Find out what level of communication senior management needs.  Understand what issues and concerns are important to them.  Figure out how you can help them succeed. So what’s a project manager to do? 10
  11. 11. Own it What’s the best option? Take the bull by the horns and… Take Charge! the-horns-a-way-to-solve-a-problem/11
  12. 12. Advising upwards…Advising upwards might be closer to what project managers do with seniormanagement. It‟s a PM‟s job to get clear fast on where SM should focus on.  Build credibility and trust  Show up with solutions Minds can‟t be changed overnight  Senior management needs to advise up too Risk is not bad news  Understand their expectations and drivers  Know that Style matters  Become an influencer  Don‟t assume you‟ve got a handle on their views  Take care of the relationship  Don‟t assume they know the what, why, and how on your project12
  13. 13. You might want to consider a few things before diving in. 13
  14. 14. Assess, Prep, & Deliver Continue to care & feed those relationships14
  15. 15. Care & feeding start to finish… • Build the relationship early & often • Be thorough & follow through Credibility • Be realistic about what you can & can‟t do • Know when to get their input • Get clear on requirements • Agree on timelines Alignment • Understand communication expectations • Define your authority • Know their motivations • Identify what is a “win” for them Priorities • Assess feasibility relative to project resources • Know what they care about today15
  16. 16. Assess when managing up  Style matters  Leverage strengths  Know pet peeves16
  17. 17. Style matters Communication Experience Understand the senior manager‟s preferred communication style and flex to it. Consumption Readers. Information on paper first so they can understand. Listeners. Hear the information first then written version. Doers. Dive into brainstorming together. Format Analytical. Need data to support presented ideas Conceptual. Just need high level points. Skeptical. Evidence of success in other situations. Frequency & Method Analytical. Need time with data. Spreadsheets. Driver. Key points. Fast. Expressive. Live more often than not. Visual.17
  18. 18. Leverage strengths, compensate weaknessesLearn senior management stakeholder strengths and selectively use them.Strong in communication – recruit them to be a champion.Big picture oriented – leverage them as a liaisonWiz at resourcing – ask for help with staffing needsCompensate for their weaknessesKnowing where they‟re weak means you can find ways to better support. Doing things totake the load of can go along way to them supporting the project when you need it most.18
  19. 19. Pet peeves Watch for hot buttons What sets them off or irritates them? - Being late - Poor spelling and grammar - Swearing - Not contributing Listen to them. Watch them. They will tell you or someone else will convey pet peeves verbally or through their behavior.19
  20. 20. Prepping for managing up  Time, Timing, & Trends  Communicate, communicate, communicate!  Present20
  21. 21. Time, Timing, TrendsRight information at the right timeThey need information but it must be specific to their needs, help them do theirjob, and help them make their decisions.  Brevity scores. Make the point in 30 seconds  Smell it before stepping in it. Know the difference between an issue and a risk  Deal with it. Don‟t go to them for every little thing  Avoid the carpet. Don‟t wait until it‟s too late to share problems21
  22. 22. CommunicationRight information the right wayManagers are busy people. Communicate and never assume your bossunderstands the why, what, and who of the project.  Consistency counts. Instills trust and confidence in you.  Flex for them. Communicate in the format they like to see in it.  Loop them in. Whenthey are left out of the loop for too long, they start to get antsy.  Kill assumptions. If you leave them wondering, they usually think the worst.  Have it their way. Figure out what info they need. Figure it out fast and get it to them.22
  23. 23. PresentRight information to the right personSenior management needs information to be fast and succinct. Considerwhat‟s important to them, but also know what‟s important to the project.Balance their needs with the needs of the project. Be crisp, clear and articulate. Know your stuff inside and out & be ultra prepared when presenting. Have purpose. Consider why you‟re meeting with this person. Change an attitude? Get a decision? Be targeted. Reach out to the right person. Right content. Consider their preferences. Diagram? A spreadsheet? Bullet points? Political pulse. Stay in touch with their attitude about the project. Be helpful. Yours is not the only project on their plate.23
  24. 24. Delivering to senior management  What to do when meeting  Tips to facilitate the discussion  Disagreement  Your behavior defines you24
  25. 25. While in the moment with SM Remember the range of acceptability. Know your project needs. Undersell and over deliver. Dont make promises you cant keep. Know your numbers. Be realistic with the timeline and budget to accommodate for unforeseen challenges and cost increase. Make the time productive. Focus on solutions not problems. Be objective. It‟s not about you or them. It‟s about the project. Draw pictures. People are typically visual. Be timely, factual, & clear. They will respect you for it even if they don‟t like what they hear.25
  26. 26. Discussion tips Be professional. Separate the people from the problem  Start with end first. Get to the point then fill in the gaps. Tell the truth. Give them all the facts. Don‟t tell them what you think they want to hear. Seek feedback. Listen, understand. Take control.Propose a solution & outline a plan of action. Keep the big picture in mind. The project supports the business & customers. Follow up. Do what you say you‟re going to do. 26
  27. 27. It’s okay to disagree but…  Speak up when you know it‟s not in the best interest of the project, the business, or senior management.  Use the project charter, methodology, business objectives, etc to challenge decisions.  Be thoughtful about how you disagree and debate.  Can‟t keep saying yes. Scope creep will happen. Your project will likely fail in that case. 27
  28. 28. Always remember project priorities come first They want what they want when they want it but…  No one stakeholder type is more important than the others.  Customers are not more important than technical staff. Vendors are not more important than employees.  Assess high priority stakeholders and deliverables against the project needs.  Part of managing up is helping senior management understand that. Highlight and give options within the triple constraint.28
  29. 29. What you do defines you Dont go over their head or behind their back. It‟ll make things more difficult for your project. Build trust with senior management before going to their peers without them knowing.29
  30. 30. What you do defines you continued Avoid throwing a stakeholder under the bus even if it is deserved. It usually has to be cleaned up by SM and they hate it. Don‟t burn bridges with stakeholders particularly SM. You may end up working for the person youve injured. Make your project stakeholders look good. Don‟t write long emails. They don‟t have time and it might garner input where you don‟t want it.30
  31. 31. Hot tips, best practice for managing up  Pick tools that help the project & the stakeholders stay informed  Gut check your role in the project  Always listen, gain understanding  Use levity, humor when appropriate  Ask for help when you need it  Consult with others even other execs for advice  Make it easy for them  Keep the big picture in mind31
  32. 32. In conclusion  Be clear on roles, responsibilities, and project needs.  Be flexible but don‟t always bend if it‟s not in the best interest of the project.  Assess, prep, and deliver the right information to the right person in the right way at the right time.  Consider the receiver‟s style and communication needs.  Do your homework & do what you say you‟re going to do. If you can‟t, let them know ASAP. Questions???32
  33. 33. Thank you! Alison Sigmon, M.Ed, LPC, PMP Twitter @alisonsigmon33