Help from above


VOICESFrom the Top



Project managers spend much of their day focused on the front lines of getting projects completed on time, and within budget and scope.

But Nelson Rosamilha wants the project managers at IBM focused on the bottom line, too.

“Most project managers think about delivery first, and their second priority is the financial result,” says Mr. Rosamilha, PMP, a project executive at IBM, a PMI Global Executive Council member. But to ascend the ranks, project professionals need to give both equal weight—a task made easier when project management executives act as mentors.

“Project managers usually see project directors or project executives as role models,” Mr. Rosamilha says.

The first lesson is teaching project managers to look beyond their to-do lists, he says, and work toward the bigger picture.

In IT, the challenge we face is explaining to project managers that the main concern is not just delivering the project to the customer. We have to convince the project managers that they also have to give to the customer added value, and deliver financial results to the company.

We communicate the consequences of delivering a project with losses. It's a very simple message: When you lose money, you have to bring money from another place. The only way to do that is to lay off someone or to take money from the bank.

We have to keep teaching and leading our project managers toward improvement. This requires energy, mentoring and coaching.

How do you mentor project managers to help them be successful?

Project managers expect project management executives to be more than bosses. They expect people who can guide them.

That is a huge responsibility. We always try to give them some kind of new methodology, new tips or books they should read to enrich their skills.

As mentors, we offer insights that a professional in the middle of a crisis cannot see. For example, when a project manager has a project in crisis, I suggest that he or she look back at a successful project to find ideas that may help him or her improve performance.

I also tell my team to attend networking project management events to meet people who may have ideas that will help them avoid future problems.

Project managers expect project management executives to be more than bosses. They expect people who can guide them.

How do you create a culture of accountability?

The best way to create accountability is to have a staff meeting, but those meetings need to be tracked with the project deliverables.

If the project manager says that he or she is going to deliver something that week, you have to request metrics and samples of this specific outcome. It's not just a matter of asking how things are going. You need to look at the deliverables and make sure you're seeing some sort of output that week.

Asking for that kind of follow-through demonstrates that I care about results and that processes are being followed, and moreover, as a leader, I demonstrate that my behavior matches what I say. This creates a culture of responsibility and commitment from the bottom to the top of the chain of command. PM




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