Figure 1. Project Manager competencies across different project types, Krahn and Hartment (2006)
their read of the situation. This approach is in stark contrast to establishing cookie-cutter steps that must be followed in all cases. “Flexibility is a common area of struggle. More than 50 percent of project managers that we surveyed will not change approaches mid-project even when they recognize they are not meeting project success criteria.” When working with project managers, flexibility is a common area of struggle. More than 50 percent of project managers that we surveyed will not change approaches mid-project even when they recognize they are not meeting project success criteria. Many cite adherence to the original project plan. They feel they need to “stick to the process” as core reasons they cannot or will not deviate from a preset plan, even when it is not working. As you can imagine, this often takes projects on a poor trajectory and pushes them further in the wrong direction. If you want to improve the flexibility of your project managers and give them the flexibility to work creatively within the project environment, write your project goals in ink and write your plan in pencil. Chances are you’ll need to make some changes and adapt your plan as the project unfolds, which should be viewed as a strength rather than a weakness. Justin Smith is a principal at Start 2 Rise, LLC, Zweig Group’s strategic training and advisory partner in project management and leadership development. He can be reached at justin@ s2rgroup.com.
JUSTIN SMITH , from page 9
This same research looked at various team structures and project types. It aimed to rank the importance of each of these skills to establish a hierarchy of project manager skills and competencies. The results were surprising. While the four core skills remained strong predictors of project success, their relative importance to project outcomes shifted depending on the project type, as shown in Figure 1. These data highlight that flexibility is an underpinning, often invisible, competency of successful project managers. The most successful project managers draw on these core competencies, and they do that by recognizing the project environment and flexibly matching the hierarchy of skills to the environment. The skills are universal, but the way successful project managers deliver the skills depends on the unique facets of each project, and this is where a lot of project manager development stumbles. “The most successful project managers draw on these core competencies, and they do that by recognizing the project environment and flexibly matching the hierarchy of skills to the environment.” Project management that focuses on creating a constrained process also constrains the project manager’s ability to be effective in different circumstances. I admit that projects benefit from some structure. Still, the system should focus on project outcomes and goals rather than the process. Shifting the focus in this way gives the project manager the flexibility to “call the right play” at the right point in the project based on
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THE ZWEIG LETTER MAY 16, 2022, ISSUE 1441
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