Friday, June 13, 2014

New Trends in Project Management 2014 - Part II: Creating a coaching culture in projects

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Let me introduce another  NTPM 2014 conference speaker - Mike Rawlinswho shared his thoughts on: “Creating a coaching culture in projects – enabling behaviours that make success inevitable”. Mike is an accredited Executive Coach and Programme Manager specialising in business coaching and in leadership development for project sponsors, managers and team members. He was previously a senior IS manager with National Grid undertaking of roles in portfolio, programme and service management in support of the Gas Distribution and Electricity Transmission businesses in the UK.

Projects are delivered by people, for people and to people. Delivering to time, cost, scope/quality (gold triangle) does not ensure the project success any more. We need more: “achieving the outcomes that were intended – something has changed for the better and in a way that was desired”.

What’s the definition of coaching? Through effective questioning, coaching aims to raise awareness, have the coachee take responsibility for their actions, and ultimately to improve their personal performance (taken from one of the coaching workshops).

According to Mike: “coaching is both a skill and an approach to personal development:
  • A person who is coached can develop not only new skills and behaviours but also a capability for self-coaching that will continue
  • Organisations that develop a coaching approach to personal development create a culture where the seeking and achievement of excellence becomes a habit and where support for self and others becomes just what we do around here”. These are the organisations we would like to work for, wouldn’t we?

So, a coaching culture is “the collection of expected behaviours, shared beliefs and accepted norms that define what it is to be part of the wider group.”

Coaching culture leads to:
  •           people are willing and able to help others;
  •           people interaction is as much important as delivering the tasks
  •           sustained behavioural changes that deliver long term value.

The signs of coaching culture:
  •           speedier and more precise decisions;
  •          earlier recognition of and improved resolution of issues and conflicts
  •          creative problem solving;
  •          effective governance and control;

One of the questions asked during the session was: “Are you a coach or a Project Manager” and the Mike’s answer was both. Yes, I agree! Project Managers nowadays are more coaches and mentors than managers. I’ve discovered 2 years ago (during one of the NTPM 2012 conference sessions on coaching) that comparing to 20th century, where  80% of PM’s job was controlling and only 20% coaching and mentoring, in 21st century is the other way around: 80% is coaching and mentoring and only 20% controlling. Although Mike did not confirm that, I believe it’s true. During my training sessions I always stress that we Project Managers do not control people but only project activities and our job is to inspire, motivate and engage the team so they deliver what is expected. Collaboration defined as interaction of team members in such way to develop positive synergy where the team’s performance is greater than the sum of individual’s performances, is the key to a project success.

Quoting Mike: “A Project Manager can draw upon coaching principles to …
  • Develop awareness of self and through that awareness seek to improve personal behaviours to achieve excellence;
  • Engage, motivate and empower others
    •  in their team and project governance to improve behaviours
    • and to make better choices that will lead to sustained project success. 

How to create the coaching culture? Mike advices as follow:
  •           Lead by example – never underestimate the impact of shadow of the leader;
  •           Pay attention – listen, really listen, to what others are saying;
  •           Become curious – always seek to further your understanding;
  •           Understand the positive intent – the reasons why others behave as they do;
  •           Adapt your style – to the needs of the team and the situation.

Let’s start the change!


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