Project Managers Can Enable Company Culture

Project Managers Can Enable Company Culture

Project Managers Can Enable Company Culture
 Project Managers Can Enable Company Culture


Culture eats strategy for breakfast

 Is the famous quote by legendary management guru Peter Drucker. To be clear, he didn't mean that strategy was unimportant – rather he emphasized that a powerful and empowering culture was an unquestionable route to organizational success. Organizational culture is defined as:

Shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid (The Business Dictionary).

Simply stated, organizational culture is “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000). Organizational culture, by its very nature, ensures that employees are aligned with the purpose of the organization. And, this compatibility of goals and way of thinking drives the members to perform well, be self-directed, and be loyal to the organization they belong to. So how can project management help to drive organizational culture change? Well think about it:

  • Who on a day-to-day brings together cross-functional actors to drive change?
  • Who thrives in uncertainty and leads matrix teams to deliver progress?
  • Who acts to 'change the business' in implementing the strategic portfolio of projects?

You guessed it, Project Managers!

Sometimes, the role of the Project Manager can be underestimated by senior management. Overlooked as being perceived too tactical or operational in nature. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the profession is evolving and, now more then ever, Project Managers are acquiring more and more business acumen, leadership and strategic skills. And this evolution is making them a 'hidden gem', a strategic asset, to organizations during cultural transformations.

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 PMs are true transversal actors... 

who, in our time of constant change, digitization and transformation must be at the heart of any cultural change. When you think about it, they are in essence, "silo-busters" who consistently bring together individuals from cross-functional teams to drive change. They thrive in uncertain environments and changing requirements to deliver the benefits of key products or services. And they have the knowledge and skill-set to be able to structure, plan and follow-up on the implementation of projects that introduce benefits and new strategic direction.

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Successful cultural transformations are influenced by role-models, leaders and inspirational peers. At the micro-level, every time a PM kick’s off a new project he has the opportunity to energize the project team about the benefits that this project will reap, the purpose of the project team and it’s alignment to the organizational purpose, and he can re-emphasize how during the time the project team works together they are to abide and role model the core values of the organization. The PM can set – better yet, incubate a sense of purpose, a powerful project vision and uplift spirits.

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PMs sometimes do themselves a dis-service by not giving themselves enough visibility for their strategic and, especially, leadership competences. Sometimes we find ourselves as Project Managers fixated on the technical element of our craft, taking pride in adhering to the technical processes. In doing so delivering as efficiently as possible according to time, scope and budget constraints.

But the true test of our success is not solely in our ability to deliver on time, in scope and within budget, but our effective leadership in doing so, especially when it comes to complex projects. Project management as a profession is increasing in complexity. It is evolving to meet new challenges of this century—rapid technological changes, expectations and aspirations of a new generation of workers, and Project Managers but adapt their capabilities.

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Most organizations say that technical skills are the hardest to find but the easiest to teach. While 66% of organizations say that leadership skills are not as teachable but are most important for early success in project management. The Project Management Institute has even placed a focus on three elements of development for Project Managers:

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  1. Leadership (People)
  2. Technical Project Management (Process)
  3. Strategic and Business Management (Business Environment).

This is called the Talent Triangle. And the "Leadership" axis is focused on the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to guide, motivate, and direct a team, to help an organization achieve its business goals. While the axis of "Strategic and Business Management" is focused on the knowledge of and expertise in the industry and organization that enhanced performance and better delivers business outcomes.

While technical project management skills are core to program and project management, PMI research indicates that they are not enough in today’s increasingly complicated and competitive global marketplace. Tapping into and harnessing the leadership, influence and skills of the Project Managers during cultural transformations can inspire, catalyze and help support organizations to make a wider and deeper impact.

Next time your organization is looking to re-vitalize their approach to company culture, think of Project Managers as enablers that can effectively become an accelerator for cultural transformation. If you are a project manager yourself promote your value, don't be afraid to demonstrate your leadership and rise out of your comfort zone to become a role-model in your company to drive inspire, catalyze and help orchestrate a cultural movement. 

The Author : Kamil Mroz

Kamil Mroz

About : 
I am an award-winning project leader with director level & site-leadership experience, strong communication skills, and a strategic long-term view enabling the connection between strategy and operational execution.

I am driven and energized by coaching, mentoring, and developing talents while overcoming transversal organizational challenges. My experience in people management has enabled me to discover my passion for the leadership of intercultural, diverse, and technical teams composed of both direct reports and cross-functional matrix project teams. I have been awarded global distinctions from both the largest PM organizations, IPMA, and PMI for advanced project management expertise, strong teamwork, communication & leadership.

I owe my servant leadership approach to the time I have dedicated to social and volunteer-causes where I focused on several high-impact philanthropic projects in Europe. I am also proud to have also been the first-ever student to be awarded the Young Alumni of the Year by the Faculty of Engineering from the University of Ottawa and I also Chair of the ISPE BeNeLux Steerco on Project Management.

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