Management style …

The London Team

The London Team

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit …. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” – Peter Drucker.

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Lisa and I found ourselves in a no-win situation with three Leaders, in three different countries – with resources we required to deliver the project – unwilling to relinquish those resources. It was my previous boss, Mike Snarey from Disney, whom provided partial resolution to this no-win scenario. “It comes down to management style Dan. Someone, I cannot remember who, once told me, people don’t leave jobs, they leave Managers.”

My management style relies on trust. Fortunately for me, my reputation for being reciprocal, protective of my teams – by being open – and willing to be personally responsible for all actions, had preceded me. I went directly to the people whom I needed to carry out the work. It was a qualified risk but part of the taking control skills all Project Managers require.

I had rightly surmised that the existing conflict within this no-win scenario phase was beyond worst. The project had become extremely volatile. For example, suppliers could not be trusted to deliver in time. Factions within the project were taking advantage of this volatility. The conflict resulting from my direct approach could not become any more unmanageable.

“Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When approached, and given the full scope of the project, the selected resources proved very supportive. Trust in management continuously required high priority resolutions to tough poorly recorded project issues  – it was one of the main reasons why the project had fallen at its initial inception in 1999!

It took a series of difficult and risky steps to bring everyone back on board. For example, I used an array of communication tools, such as; media plans, interactive workshops, newsletters, trade magazines and emerging online technologies (wiki’s, blogs, and extranet forums). Offline, I rallied the stakeholders – including their families and friends – to climb Mount Sljeme with me. These trust restorative measures began the re-engendering trust process.

“Trust in management is more important than money.” – Jadranko Gudan, Technical Project Manager.

Without trust there is no real way for any Project Manager to get stakeholders to have a cohesive view of the project – unless they innately trust you! A good Project Manager must question; how do I go about getting trust? Who do I need to enrol to help me? As an International Project Manager what do I do to demonstrate I can be trusted?

In Zagreb, through implementing the trust restorative measures, the teams came to trust that I held their best interests at heart. For India, by my including them at all levels of the decision making processes, secured me their best resources. Obviously, a lot more went on than can be written about here. Suffice to say, management style reversed this no-win scenario, my management style.

Management style, especially one based on reciprocal trust, can alter human resource perceptions about project tasks – it changed their world. Through the workshops we came to realise our true roles and responsibilities. We realised that this project was not about individuals but more about a team. This understanding managed to quell the trust issues – fundamentally territorial in nature – between London and Zagreb.

“Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities for which they were previously unaware.” – David Armistead

In Zagreb, differences were put aside; we shed the egotistical desires of; the need to be right, the need to blame, and we worked together to exploit an opportunity that would have been missed if the infighting had continued. For example, my team help me beat the project leading contenders, IBM, in an intensive 2 hour functional and technical interrogation to win development of the GSM telecommunications portal’s content management system. Even though I was alone at this interrogation – my teams were with me through the knowledge they gave me.

Through the series of project workshops I bridged the gaps of distrust between all teams (including Client side trust). Bridging the trust gap between different cultures within projects requires absolute confidence that you can do it and then experience, obtained effectively in the field. This is because any solution involving trust requires direct interpersonal intelligence, which can never be fully achieved remotely.

Equally important, the positive nature of trust within projects can and does produce super-normal activity where none should exist – or be expected to exist. This is an essence of metaphysical project management. For example; the impact aspects of the content management system win included reusable tools and techniques deployed to other projects in my portfolio.

“Daniel, this is amazing – you’ve done really well. Congratulations, I hope you will accept your new position.” – Sharan Brijnath, Chairman.

Similarly, it never occurred to me, until my Chairman arrived in Zagreb, the extent of London’s happiness with the new found trust in it’s overseas alliances. I had not considered any notion of promotion. My vision was always locked on the benefits this portal project would have on the Croatian population – it is what drove me.

The Client was super-happy too. Originally, my team were not privy to the official dinner, and the subsequent portal launch party. Our invitations came at the last moment. There was even a Client apology! More on that later. Suffice to say, the Chairman’s visit helped to boost further the trust management steps that had begun solidification in Croatia and were now extending outwards; taken up by India and the USA. As a result, projects within my portfolio were made slightly easier to deliver on the back of the wins of this GSM Telecommunications portal project.

These wins impacted newer projects such as the GlaxoSmithKline mobile project. My point being; there was no possible way for these “super-normal” impacts to be ascertained at the beginning of the project. If there were a way to measure the properties of trust within metaphysical project management then perhaps these impacts could be better predetermined and successfully targeted.

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