Challenges with getting PM procedural compliance from non-PMs

A common complaint I hear from our customers is that they are frustrated with getting their staff to comply with a minimal set of project management practices.  Usually, this complaint is focused on the “accidental” project managers – those staff that primarily perform another function but on occasion are called on to lead projects.

While many times this is a result of PM procedures that are simply too onerous or that don’t scale, other times it is an issue of insufficient change management being exercised through the roll out of the new practices.

This can start with a basic assumption – “I feel these procedures are common sense and lightweight, so everyone else should too.”  Unfortunately, the creators of PM processes and procedures tend to be Type-A, process-oriented individuals.  To have the majority of employees follow procedures a few key change management practices are needed:

1. Change the bare minimum to meet your management team’s requirements for project planning, tracking and control.

2. Provide PM 101 training to all staff that do project work but don’t make  it theoretical – invest the time in finding a training provider that can make it fun and that can show attendees that a lot of what they are used to doing every day is project work (and how they can be more effective at it).

3. Use positive reinforcement to encourage compliance – spot awards or other such types of recognition go a long way towards developing advocates.

4. Receive and manage constructive criticism positively – consider this a sign of “engagement” and ensure that you acknowledge the feedback and try (if it is reasonable and feasible) to incorporate it within your procedures.

5. Explain (repeatedly) and demonstrate to staff how compliance with the procedures will help them.  For example, a project leader might find themselves getting regularly interrupted in their work by stakeholders or sponsors requiring updates on a project.  By having consistent, regular project status reporting practices, these interruptions should be reduced over time allowing the project leader to focus on their work.  For staff being asked to do time reporting for the first time, defuse the fears of “Big Brother” by explaining that capturing good time data over a time period can help reduce overallocation scenarios and could provide solid evidence for justifying resource augmentation.

6. Ensure that the functional managers and executives are supporting your procedures – this includes being willing to discipline staff that refuse to comply with procedures even after repeated attempts to coach and mentor them.

It is very easy, especially in the first few days of a PPM or PM capability improvement initiative to get frustrated when you encounter resistance or compliance issues.  It is also very easy to channel this frustration into defensiveness or into drawing conclusions about the professionalism or worthiness of the staff.  Always remember “It’s easier to catch flies with honey, than with vinegar“.

To learn more about effective PPM/PM change management, visit our website and sign up for our webinar on the topic…

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Portfolio Management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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