Sheilina Somani, FAPM, RPP, PMP, is the owner
of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project
Management, a senior project manager, a speaker
and a mentor.
honesty that transcends job titles and relative
seniority, while functioning at a level of professional courtesy and loyalty. A conscious project
manager seeks to create and support an atmosphere of openness so the project team can then
feel secure enough to comply when appropriate
and to challenge where necessary.
While the dissent may prove a little uncomfortable at first, the ability to balance progress with
dialogue will help both the participants and the
project outcomes. There is a real sense of motivation when individuals feel such openness. They
recognize that they may challenge decisions and
practices and actually be listened to.
As a project manager, it’s important to recognize one’s own compliance. Conscious participation in decision-making, analysis of progress and
anticipation of next steps is critical to creating a
sense of purpose and capability among the team
around you. When a project manager is wholly
compliant, stakeholders and team members may
perceive this lack of resistance as weakness or lack
of knowledge. Equally, if a serious decision or perception needs challenging, individuals may choose
to avoid being vocal for fear of reprisal.
There are always times when compliance is a
requirement, such as in an emergency. However,
within less life-threatening situations, there is time
and space to think about each action and to seek to
consciously comply, suggest an alternative or challenge the perceived outcome.
When running projects, we are tasked with
bringing about change. In order to complete such
revolutionary outcomes, we have to push bound-
aries and evolve processes and behaviors. Being
conscious of compliance facilitates awareness and
therefore a more robust approach to both leading
and managing successful outcomes. PM
Within projects, we are familiar with compliance
in a number of ways, including health and safety,
quality and data protection. But rarely do we think
about the compliant behavior that may seriously
hinder project activities.
As project managers, we need to be conscious of
our own compliance and of demanding the same
from our team members. When a senior sponsor demands a call on a Tuesday morning and a
key member of your team has the day off, do you
require your team member to come in or do you
suggest an alternate day?
Many factors influence the behavior of team
members, including their:
n Trust in the goals and objectives of the project
n Confidence in their ability to do the work
n Belief in the project manager
However, there are other powerful drivers that
we may be less aware of:
n Job security
n Pressures at home
n Fear of reprisals
There are times that we
expect tacit compliance
without even requesting it.
We simply assume that team
members will conduct themselves accordingly and act
with a measure of professionalism at all times. Rarely do
we discuss the boundaries for
compliance, or give permission to question or challenge
activities and decisions.
A truly effective project
Know when to speak up and when to
team needs an openness and
acquiesce to keep a project on track.
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, FAPM, RPP, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR