The Paradox of Project Sponsors to Stakeholders

The Paradox of Project Sponsors to Stakeholders

A project is deemed successful when it meets or exceeds the expectations of its stakeholders. Every project has a unique set of stakeholders—sometimes far too many. Trying to meet all of their requirements is more often an impossible task. Nonetheless, the project manager must deal with all stakeholder situations smoothly because the stakeholders and the people they represent often evaluate the project’s success.

Project Stakeholders

Project Stakeholders

But who are the stakeholders? According to PMI, “Project stakeholders are individuals and organizations who are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected as a result of project execution or successful project completion.”

Stakeholders can be internal or external to the organization that is carrying out the project.

“Project Sponsor” is also a stakeholder, typically an organization executive with authority to assign resources and enforce project decisions. Project sponsors are called internal stakeholders in the project. Stakeholders include the project manager, project team members, and managers from other departments within the organization. Identifying all project stakeholders as early as possible in a project is critical. Leaving out key stakeholders or the department’s function and not discovering the fault until the project is well underway could be disastrous.

Types of Stakeholders

Types of Stakeholders

Types of Stakeholders

There are two types of project stakeholders:

  • Internal Stakeholders
  • External Stakeholders

Internal stakeholders are individuals or businesses whose relationship with a company is determined by their position within its structure. As the name implies, these individuals are involved in a project from the inside. They are as follows:

  • A project sponsor
  • An internal customer or client
  • A project team
  • A program or portfolio manager
  • Management
  • Another team’s manager of the company

External stakeholders are those interested in a company’s operations. Still, they do not necessarily have a role in the decisions of the business. However, they can influence success or failure based on their vested interests. They can be just as powerful as internal stakeholders. These stakeholders are not directly involved in the project but are affected by its outcome.

  • An external customer or client
  • An end-user
  • Subcontractors
  • A supplier
  • The government
  • Local communities
  • Media

Characteristics of Stakeholders in a Project 

  • When contributing to a project, stakeholders have varying levels of responsibility and authority. This level may change as the project progresses. It can range from one-time contributions to complete project sponsorship.
  • Some stakeholders may also actively or passively undermine the project’s success. These stakeholders require the project manager’s attention throughout the project’s life cycle.
  • Stakeholder identification is a continuous process throughout the project’s life cycle. Identifying them, understanding their level of impact on a project, and meeting their demands, needs, and expectations are critical to the project’s success.
  • Just as they can positively or negatively impact a project’s objectives, stakeholders can perceive a project to have positive or negative outcomes.
  • A project manager’s most important role is managing stakeholder expectations, which can be challenging because stakeholders often have different or conflicting goals.

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is the process of organizing, monitoring, and improving relationships with stakeholders. It entails systematically identifying stakeholders, analyzing their needs and expectations, and planning and carrying out various tasks to engage them. In addition, a good stakeholder management process will allow them to coordinate their interactions and evaluate the status and quality of their relationships with various stakeholders.

A critical component of running a successful project is developing and maintaining positive relationships with the affected communities and other stakeholders.

Investing time in identifying and prioritizing stakeholders, as well as assessing their interests, provides a solid foundation on which to build the stakeholder engagement strategy. In addition, good stakeholder management includes ‘business intelligence.

Benefits of Stakeholder Management

Benefits of Stakeholder Management

Benefits of Stakeholder Management

  • Build Reputation
  • Competitive advantage
  • Corporate governance
  • Risk management
  • Social license to operate
7 Principles of Stakeholder Management

7 Principles of Stakeholder Management

7 Principles of Stakeholder Management

Clarkson Centre created the seven principles of Stakeholder Management for Business Ethics under the leadership of Max Clarkson. The Clarkson Principles are, in many ways, “meta-principles” that encourage management to embrace specific stakeholder principles and implement them according to the norms.

  1. Managers must acknowledge and actively monitor all legitimate stakeholders’ concerns and consider their interests in decision-making and operations.
  2. Managers must listen to and communicate openly with stakeholders about their respective concerns and contributions and the risks they face from their involvement with the corporation.
  3. Managers must implement processes and behaviors sensitive to each stakeholder constituency’s concerns and capabilities.
  4. Managers should be aware of the interdependence of stakeholder efforts and rewards and make an effort to fairly distribute the costs and benefits of corporate activity among them while taking into account their risks and vulnerabilities.
  5. Managers should work with other public and private entities to ensure that risks and harms resulting from corporate activities are minimized and compensated appropriately where they cannot be avoided.
  6. Managers should avoid activities that could jeopardize inalienable human rights or create risks that, if clearly understood, would be patently unacceptable to relevant stakeholders.
  7. Managers should be aware of potential conflicts between their role as corporate stakeholders and their legal and moral obligations to all stakeholders and address such conflicts through open communication, appropriate reporting and incentive systems, and, if necessary, third-party review.

Understanding the Stakeholders

A good understanding of the stakeholders is the key to successful stakeholder engagement. In addition, understanding stakeholder concerns and interests can lead to product or service ideas that address stakeholder needs while allowing the company to cut costs and maximize value.

1. What else can you learn about stakeholders to better understand their needs, priorities, preferences, and concerns? Consider:

  • Demographic data- Ensure to engage with a diverse community and stakeholder groups.
  • Social networks- Focus on the important, often undocumented, social connections between stakeholders.

2. Stakeholder Mapping – Stakeholder mapping is the visual process of depicting all stakeholders of a product, project, or idea on a single map. The main advantage of a stakeholder map is that it provides a visual representation of all the people who can have an impact on your project and how they are connected.

3. Salience model – investigate the power, urgency (need for immediate action), and legitimacy (appropriate stakeholders), as well as the interaction or groups of stakeholders that result.

4. Determine stakeholder expectations and compare them to the scope and expectations of the project or organization for which the engagement program is being run. Is there a mismatch in expectations, and how will this be addressed? Consider the following:

  • What information do they need from you, how often, and in what format/channel do they want it?
  • What is their financial/social/emotional stake in the outcome of the work? Is it favorable or unfavorable?
  • What primary motivations will shape their perceptions of your project or organization and their interactions with you?
  • What are their current feelings about the organization and project? Is it founded on reliable data?
  • Who influences their thoughts, and who are they influenced by?

Ways to deal with common stakeholder problems and challenges

  • Stakeholder conflict occurs when different stakeholders have incompatible goals. It causes a “problem” for the company because it can impact its performance and success.
  • Conflict necessitates that businesses effectively manage stakeholder interests. Not all stakeholders are strategically important to the company. As a result, businesses must determine which ones should be prioritized.
  • Potential problems can be avoided by conducting an upfront analysis of who the stakeholders are and how and when to involve them in the project.
Analysis of common stakeholder issues

Analysis of common stakeholder issues

Analysis of common stakeholder issues 

As no two stakeholders are the same, the issues they may introduce into a project will be vastly different. This factor means there could be many reasons why a project encounters stakeholder resistance or the project team struggles to gain traction. Identifying stakeholder issues during the project can help with planning ahead of time and preparing an appropriate response.

  1. Trying to align different stakeholders.

It is generally a good thing to have a variety of interests in the project and its outcome, but having a lot of different stakeholders can also pull the project team in too many different directions. In addition, it can be challenging for project managers to coordinate too many different stakeholders, which could add new difficulties to the project.

  1. Competing priorities between stakeholders

Stakeholders bring their objectives and expectations to the project. However, at least a few of these priorities frequently conflict with or compete with one another. In addition, priorities may vary depending on the department, the role, or the professional backgrounds of the individuals.

  1. Resource constraints 

It’s possible that the team lacks some of the resources they require or that the project is utilizing resources that other stakeholders consider crucial to their projects. Resource competition is common in organizations and can lead to conflict.

  1. Breakdowns in communication

Effective communication between stakeholders and the project team is crucial for everyone to achieve their objectives and for the project to be successful. When there are communication breakdowns, the project may be delayed, or the team may not receive the necessary information. Without deliberate communication, stakeholders might unintentionally hinder the project’s success.

  1. Stakeholders are resistant to sharing information. 

At times, important project sponsors are more focused on their success and fail to promptly or completely provide the stakeholders with the required information. As a result, stakeholders may attempt to disrupt a project unintentionally or on purpose.

  1. Potential implications of conflict with a sponsor

Conflict with project sponsors may have many consequences on the project management, such as these typical ones:

  • The project’s progress is being slowed
  • Reducing the effectiveness and timeliness of decision-making
  • Putting team cohesion in jeopardy
  • Undermining a project manager’s authority
  • Fostering hostility and encouraging uncooperative behavior
  • Creating a fearful environment for other stakeholders
  • Obscuring the project’s vision
Methods for dealing with common stakeholder conflicts

Methods for dealing with common stakeholder conflicts

Methods for dealing with common stakeholder conflicts

  1. Stakeholder analysis 

Stakeholder analysis can offer insightful information and guidance, just as project managers must carefully examine resources and specifics. It can be helpful to respond appropriately by taking the time to consider how stakeholders affect the project’s progress.

By conducting a stakeholder analysis, one can learn how to control expectations, channel stakeholder influence toward project objectives, and deliver the information and updates that stakeholders expect from their team.

  1. Identify stakeholders

One must first identify the stakeholders to analyze them effectively. List every stakeholder that comes to mind, then include more individuals and organizations as necessary. As stakeholders, all parties involved in the project, those with authority over it or an interest in its success, should be listed.

  1. Prioritize stakeholders

The list of stakeholders can then be ranked according to impact, interest, and power. For instance:

  • Key stakeholders: This first group heavily influences and controls the project. This group is frequently accurate for executive leadership at the company.
  • Primary stakeholders: The project immediately affects the key stakeholders. This pack may include team members, departments, and internal or external clients who stand to gain from the project’s outcomes.
  • Secondary stakeholders: The secondary stakeholders are those who play a supporting role, are indirectly impacted or have a less significant stake in the project.

Understand the key stakeholders

A few stakeholders are usually critical to the project. Key stakeholders invoke more power and may have a more significant stake in the project’s success than primary or secondary stakeholders. For example, key stakeholders could include their boss, company executives, or team leaders.

Finding the key stakeholders and understanding what they need can help keep the project on track because they may control important resources, have a significant impact on the project, or grant the necessary approval.

Create a communication plan 

With a communication plan, project leaders will be better prepared to manage their stakeholders on the fly and keep the project moving forward.

  • Create your communication strategy based on what the project leader knows about their stakeholders.
  • Keeping track of what the stakeholders require from themselves allows project leaders to stay organized and focused on managing the project.
  • Gaining the stakeholders’ trust is essential once the developed strategy has been implemented. Rather than dictating the project to them, make each stakeholder a priority – as appropriate – and give them space to contribute.

Final Thoughts

Different stakeholders in the project have different expectations. Project managers should look for potentially hazardous situations when those expectations might clash. Then, they must address and resolve the conflict or risk endangering the project and themselves.

Resolving stakeholder expectations conflicts is always linked to project success. Furthermore, using various forms of communication among the project team, such as senior management and stakeholders, increases the likelihood of mutual understanding. These techniques help project managers align stakeholder expectations and reduce the possibility of project distress.

Feel free to check out my discussion on this topic with Thomas Walenta in YouTube

For any questions related to your Project Management career, training, and certifications, you can book an obligation free 15 minutes session with me by visiting http://talktodharam.com/

You can subscribe to the vCare Project Management YouTube Channel to catch future videos of our Q&A series and certification success stories: https://bit.ly/2YF0wJl

You can subscribe to and follow my podcasts and interviews with Project Management Experts on YouTube at https://bit.ly/2NDY8wd 

Project Management Challenges In “DIGITAL AGE”

Project Management Challenges In “DIGITAL AGE”

Artificial Intelligence, the most common and vibrant technical term in the 21st century, has begun to rule the world stage with its intelligent functionalities. There is no doubt that AI is transforming the productivity and workflow of various industries around the world. However, there may be a constant concern about human job opportunities in the coming years. Organizations have gradually realized that Artificial Intelligence requires collaboration with human employees, and ample job opportunities are emerging.

Impacts of Artificial Intelligence on Project Management

Project management has evolved significantly in the last decades. According to an IPMA & PwC report, 56% of organizations has already digital transformation projects, including AI adoption. The current adoption of AI among project professionals is expected to move from 27% to 35% in the next three years.

The organization must consider that successfully implementing projects in the digital age necessitates new skills and different focus areas for project managers. There is a growing demand for digital literacy, critical thinking, and creativity skills, replacing traditional project management skills such as teamwork, communication, and the ability to build effective relationships.

Benefits of AI in Project Management

Benefits of AI in Project Management

Benefits of AI in Project Management

Aggregating task statuses to generate weekly status reports, calculating the budget implications of increasing scope and timeline, and performing risk modeling are all functions that an AI technique in your project management software can provide. Here are a few more advantages of AI-enhanced project management:

  1. Employees receive personalized coaching based on their learning habits.
  2. Increasing project success by releasing resources from routine operational tasks.
  3. Observe how a project is progressing and make educated predictions about its future.
  4. AI can keep track of budgets and schedules.
  5. Capability to manage complex analytics.
  6. With its unique ability to monitor patterns, AI is a capable project manager’s assistant.

Digital Skills for Project Managers

Businesses are creating better products and stronger customer relationships at an unprecedented rate. They rely on a workforce with the necessary skills and experience to deal with the effects of disruptive technologies. Organizations combine those experts with data and digital tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning that allow for agility and speed.

Digital Skills for Project Managers

Digital Skills for Project Managers

Top Six digital-age skills for Project Delivery

1. Data Science Skills

Data science is the umbrella term for data management, analytics, and big data. It focuses on Project Managers’ ability to extract meaningful knowledge from available data to improve project outcomes. Data science is expected to play an increasingly important role in all stages of project development, from planning to completion.

2. Innovative Mindset

Today’s project teams are being asked to do more with less. That means that Project Managers who can think creatively and find new ways to achieve great results will be in high demand in the job market. Skills and experience are no longer sufficient. It is now critical to provide examples of one innovative mindset in the workplace.

3. Security and Privacy Knowledge

Today, most businesses and individuals are concerned about data security. In addition to the legal requirements, there is a general expectation that all personal and project data is handled securely. This skill is becoming increasingly important as more projects rely on digital information systems.

The best Project Managers contribute to the security of the projects they manage. They are aware of the requirements and collaborate closely with their IT and legal teams to ensure that data security guidelines are incorporated into each step of project delivery.

4. Legal and Regulatory Compliance Knowledge

Ensuring the project is legal and regulatory compliant is not new. Leading Project Managers are always aware of this. The difference that the digital age brings is the growing need to act as a bridge between project teams and the IT, Legal, and Data Protection teams, all of which are critical to the process but need little understanding of each other’s areas of expertise.

5. Ability to Make Data Driven Decisions

Using data to make sound business decisions is core to the best practice of project management. Today’s challenge is synthesizing the massive amount of data available to gain useful insights that propel a project forward. Data is only useful if it is appropriately interpreted. The best project managers use cutting-edge tools to make informed decisions and gain an advantage.

6. Collaborative Leadership Skills

Because of remote working, outsourcing, and cross-functional teams spread across multiple locations, Project Managers today require collaborative solid leadership skills more than ever. Their ability to establish standards and bring team members together (even if only virtually) for the sake of the project is becoming increasingly important. Project managers who can implement collaborative platforms and work management tools to improve their team’s work will outperform their competitors.

An Emotionally Intelligent Project Manager

Emotional intelligence can be referred to as our ability to recognize, control, and communicate emotions. People with high emotional intelligence understand how they feel, what their feelings imply, and how their feelings affect others. In interpersonal situations, it is also the ability to empathize with others. Emotional intelligence is about creating a positive work environment, which is critical to the success of any project.

According to a LiquidPlanner study, most project managers commit approximately 10% of their time to people-related activities. Top project managers dedicate 70% of their time to these activities. As a result, emotional intelligence is critical to project success.

EI skills that a Project Managers require

EI skills that a Project Managers require

Some EI skills that project managers require are:

  • Intra – Personal – Ability to know and manage yourself
  • Inter–Personal – Your ability to interact and get along with others
  • Adaptability – Ability to be flexible and to solve a wide range of problems
  • Stress Management – – Ability to manage stress
  • General Mood – Ability to be positive and in a good mood
Project Managers with Emotional Intelligence

Project Managers with Emotional Intelligence

Emotionally Intelligent Project Managers

Project managers with high emotional intelligence have a better chance of success, better physical and mental health, good work relationships, and lower stress levels. Project managers with emotional intelligence can also:

  • Successfully manage difficult situations
  • Express themselves clearly
  • More flexible
  • Solution-oriented
  • Keep cool under pressure
  • Motivate themselves to get things done
  • Have a growth mindset

Project Leadership in “DIGITAL AGE”

Over the last decade, the project management practice has evolved from a simple guide for project managers to a deeper understanding of organizational maturity and business agility. However, to capture the true essence of organizational maturity and business agility, the project management practice needed to evolve again, this time by adapting to the needs of the digital world.

According to a PMI’s report, “‘The Project Manager of the Future,”‘which surveyed over 450 HR professionals, over three-quarters of these organizations recognized the importance of project managers understanding disruptive technologies. They were actively recruiting project professionals with specialized skill sets required to manage the impact of disruptive technologies. But what are these skill sets?

Skills to manage the impact of disruptive technologies

Skills to manage the impact of disruptive technologies

  • Technology
  • Mindset
  • Operating Model
  • Business Agility
The Digital Space and its Components

The Digital Space and its Components

Beyond using digital transformation as a token, project managers must gain a thorough understanding of the digital space and its various components, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

Qualities of a Project Leader in Digital Age

Qualities of a Project Leader in Digital Age

Along with that, the project leader must have these qualities in the digital age:

  1. A human with a “Magical wand”
  2. Continuous learning & fail fast attitude
  3. Strong affinity for novelty
  4. Work smarter than harder
  5. Breaking industry boundaries for a shared future
  6. Better Understanding of Innovation & Creativity
  7. Never consider digital as the only outcome

Digital transformation in project management is more of a collective mindset than a task that can be checked off as completed. It describes a vision that needs constant improvement and encourages future innovation and growth.

3C's need to be followed by project leadership in the digital age

3C’s need to be followed by project leadership in the digital age

Here are the 3C’s need to be followed by project leadership in the digital age:

  • Calm – Inspire more trust and better performance.
  • Connect – People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, and People will never forget how you made them feel that moment.
  • Communicate – The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has occurred.

Challenges faced by Project leadership Teams

1. Disconnected & disengaged remote workforce

HR leaders and project managers nowadays, regardless of industry or size of business, assume that connecting with people within the organization is becoming increasingly difficult. Remote working, prompted by the pandemic, has only exacerbated the situation. But why is having a connected workforce important?

A well-connected workforce means employees and the company’s vision, mission, and values are connected. Employees who might feel isolated and disconnected from the business and its goals and objectives, regardless of where they work, are likely to feel disengaged and demotivated, which may affect productivity and efficiency at work. Here are some ideas for how businesses can manage disengagement and create a more connected workforce.

  • Use technology to stay connected
  • Recognize the good work
  • Implement Open Culture

2. Uncertainty in decision making

Project managers strive to conform to all elements and avoid uncertainty in project management to ensure the success of their endeavor. However, no one can predict the future. Working on large, complex projects, such as those in technology, frequently entails high uncertainty in terms of time, cost, and scope, as well as uncontrollable external forces such as inflation, regulation, and financing constraints. These factors can impact a project management system’s ability to assist managers in leading and monitoring projects. Therefore, the project management must comprehend the process of applying decision analysis techniques to the practice of project management, like:

  1. A process that can assist project managers in improving their ability to make decisions under uncertain conditions.
  2. A process that can assist project managers in confronting
  3. Resolving the realities of the project management—uncertainty, external influences, and risk.
Challenges faced by Project Leadership Teams

Challenges faced by Project Leadership Teams

3. Loss of company culture

Employee attitudes, values, beliefs, behaviors, and underlying assumptions comprise organizational culture. Furthermore, culture is important because it forms the foundation of the business logic applied to any specific decision or problem; there is a minimal chance that something will be done that violates the culture because it would mean contradicting fundamental beliefs.

An organization’s culture, which is not supportive of project management, may be perceived as an additional burden and an impediment to daily work.

4. Lack of alignment

Project success begins with good project management practices and a good team. But how do you make sure they’re in sync? Especially when alignment requirements can take many forms, such as alignment to the overall strategy, stakeholder expectations, mandated processes or policy, or delivering the right things at the right time and in the right way.

Moreover, business organizations may require precise alignment of project strategy to prevent projects from duplicating work or producing useless deliverables to reduce waste and manage costs. Strategic thinking is one way to foster the game-changing power of aligned organizational strategy to project outcomes.

5. Low morale

Employee morale is employees’ attitude, contentment, loyalty, and willingness to give their all and actively contribute to their employer’s success. It’s also about how they feel about their job and workplace.

Strategies to improve Employee Morale at your workplace

Strategies to improve Employee Morale at your workplace

If the employee morale is low, it may reduce motivation and efficiency. Employees with low morale produce only the bare minimum of work. As a capable leader, improving workplace morale should be one of your top priorities. According to an SHRM survey, 67 percent of employers find it challenging to maintain employee morale. However, the good news is that the following strategies can help immediately improve employee morale at your workplace.

  • Be prepared to manage change
  • Challenge your employees
  • Conduct team-building activities
  • Pay attention to your employees’ physical and mental health
  • Spend money on training and development
Tips to improve project performance at your organization

Tips to improve project performance at your organization

Revamp Project Team Performance

A combination of managerial skills and software tools are used to improve project performance. Ensure that the team understands the goal of every project, has access to open communication channels, and understands the importance of tasks. In addition, project management software can create consistent project plans and automate time tracking and billing to improve project performance. Here are some tips to improve project performance at your organization.

  • Process Orientated to People Orientated
  • Reactive Approach to Proactive Approach
  • Binary Metrics to Holistic Analysis
  • Scheduled Retros to Real-Time Pulse
  • Individual Evaluation to Team Evaluation

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni, the author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” examines why effective teams are so rare and offer specific recommendations for removing barriers that lead to dysfunctional teams. The work of Lencioni outlines the causes of team dysfunction and what can be done to overcome each one.

5 Dysfunctions of a Team

5 Dysfunctions of a Team

The five dysfunctions which have been compared with project management are:

  1. Absence of Trust – Teams that lack trust conceals flaws and mistakes, are hesitant to seek assistance, make assumptions about the intentions of others, harbor grudges, and dread meetings.
  1. Fear of Conflict – Fear of conflict results from a lack of trust. Most companies’ employees are more concerned with politics and personal risk management than problem-solving. As a result, meetings are frequently boring because contentious issues are avoided.
  1. Lack of Commitment – When teams avoid conflict, they fear failure. These teams struggle to make decisions and constantly second-guess themselves.
  1. Avoidance of Accountability – Second-guessing and a lack of common objectives lead to an inability to develop performance standards. Team members miss deadlines and produce mediocre results.
  1. Inattention to results – When teams lack focus and clear objectives, team members become stagnant, distracted, and self-centered.

High-performance teams

High-performance work teams are critical to how most organizations perform and carry out their work, resulting in superior performance and a significant competitive advantage. A high-performance team also requires the following to function effectively:

  • Uplift the quality of work.
  • Mentor guidance to increase productivity.
  • Peer-to-Peer monitoring & building a competitive environment.
  • Facilitating & enriching the team to handle emerging project delivery practices.

Nurturing the Right Culture

Building an organization’s strong project management culture opens the door to numerous benefits and improves customer service. Organizations with solid project cultures operate under a unique value system that aligns each team member with objectives and goals on a budget, time, and target. Professionals today are expected to demonstrate a wide range of skills and juggle multiple organizational tasks.

Steps to create High-Performance Culture

Steps to create High-Performance Culture

5 Steps Involved in Creating High-Performance Culture

  1. Fostering an environment to encourage innovation.
  2. Adapting to new and disruptive technology shifts.
  3. Creating a culture that views disruptive technologies as an opportunity to evolve the best practices.
  4. Encouraging project managers to take advantage of flexible practices that allow them to evolve project scope/requirements due to rapid technological changes.
  5. Expecting project managers to adapt to new opportunities and challenges to succeed in the age of digital disruption.

Conclusion

To capitalize on all opportunities created by technological disruption, the most forward-thinking organizations rely on the power of project leaders. One significant competitive advantage is where project leaders are prepared, willing, and able to assist their organizations in surviving and truly thriving in the face of massive change.

However, innovative organizations recognize that project leaders with the necessary digital-era skill sets do not appear by chance. As a result, innovators understand the importance of investing in three key areas:

  • Skills, training, and development
  • Tools and approaches
  • Culture

Feel free to check out my discussion on this topic with Thomas Walenta in YouTube

You can subscribe and follow my podcasts and interviews with Project Management Experts on YouTube at https://bit.ly/2NDY8wd

You can subscribe to vCare Project Management YouTube Channel to catch future videos of our certification Q&A series and student success stories using the link https://bit.ly/2YF0wJl

For any questions related to Project Management career, training, and certifications, you can book an obligation free 15 minutes session with me by visiting https://bit.ly/2SbhTOK

 

Leveraging Hybrid Global Project Teams

Leveraging Hybrid Global Project Teams

COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the digital transformation across various industries. Hybrid work has become the new norm, visibly seen in the hybrid cloud adoption of up to 20% and a decrease in utilization of on-premises workload by 13%. These statistics indicate that more companies trust cloud-based deployments, and organizations are inclined towards such trends.

Global hybrid project teams

Hybrid global teams adopt hybrid work. This adoption could be more defined as a flexible model with a blend of in-office, remote and on-the-go work approaches. The key focus of this model is to provide more autonomy for employees to be productive wherever they work. Such a move would enable team members to migrate between choices of various locations depending on the work which needs to get done.

4 categories of hybrid work model

4 categories of hybrid work model

These are typically categorized into

a) Flexible hybrid work model – Where employees choose their work location and hours. This model would provide more autonomy and expands the talent pool and diverse thinking, yet it would be difficult for employers to plan capacity.

b) Fixed Hybrid work model – Employees would plan their days and workplace well ahead, or work would be in the office on predetermined days. Such planning might allow in-person collaboration and increases the opportunity for better planning yet would minimize the lack of choice for individuals.

c) Office-first hybrid work model – In this model, a specified number of days are to be worked in the office, and for the rest of the days, they can choose to work remotely. This model gives flexibility to individual choices and maintains company culture and community, yet it would be challenging to understand and manage individual work plans.

d) Remote-First hybrid work model – In this model, the employees are asked to make remote work a priority and occasionally visit the office for training and collaboration. This model would minimize office space and help reduce costs for employers, though employees might feel isolated.

Typical characteristics of Hybrid Team(s):

Typical characteristics of Hybrid Team

Typical characteristics of Hybrid Team

– Resources spread out across many locations

– Using many work styles and processes

– Different Time Zones

– Collaboration with each other

– Diverse workplace – Home/Office

– Work a few days a week from the office

Current Scenario 

  • As per the work index trend 2022 report, already, hybrid work is up to seven points year-over-year (to 38%), and 53% of people are likely to consider transitioning to a hybrid workplace in the year ahead
  • As per the report from “globalnewswire. in”, nearly 90% of project teams work in multiple locations, with 48% in multiple locations in one country and 39% in many countries.
Current Scenario

Current Scenario

A Global Survey of Executives, Employee Experience Experts, and Knowledge Workers, Dimensional Research | October 2020

The above paper examines research that sought to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace, the current state of remote workers, their concerns about returning to the office, and the role technology can play in assisting businesses in their transition to the hybrid workplace.

Working from Home, the New Normal 

  • 58% will work eight or more days each month from home (post-COVID)
  • 98% of meetings will include participants joining from home (post-COVID)
  • 98% share frustrations with video meetings when working from home

Employees Uncomfortable Returning to the Office 

  • 97% of employees want changes to make them feel safer at work
  • 99% of companies are planning sweeping changes to the workplace as a result of COVID-19
  • 94% of companies say the technology would benefit them by providing a safer work environment

Hybrid Work Environment 

  • 77% of larger organizations will increase work flexibility while 53% will shrink office sizes
  • 89% of employees cite frustrations with in-office experiences
  • 96% indicate they need intelligent workplace technology to improve work environments
A Global Survey of Executives, Employee Experience Experts, and Knowledge Workers

A Global Survey of Executives, Employee Experience Experts, and Knowledge Workers

Leveraging benefits of Hybrid Global Teams

Offices are changing. We are seeing trends of safety/wellness right from the security gate. We are getting into the norm of seating arrangements based on social distancing, touchless elevators, improved ventilation, etc. While we see this increasing trend in hybrid global project teams, we will discuss the benefits and further aspects of the same in detail:

Flexibility and Autonomy

For some, the flexibility mantra is “get connected and get work done from anywhere.” The hybrid scenario is, “why don’t you get to the office and get some work done.” In reality, based on research, flexibility goes beyond that. The members of global hybrid teams are looking for autonomy where they decide when to work from home and when to work from the office. Global project managers understand these expectations and start engaging in models with HR and Administration teams to enable the same. When there is an insistence on specific days or mandates for a specific work location, teams feel stressed, and it becomes an intrinsic threat. Yet, people desire to have in-person connections when they want to work on engagements where there is ambiguity and a need for a physical product or engineering-related aspects. So there are always scenarios that the project or program manager needs to understand and enable an appropriate inclusive approach.

Ease of Collaboration

When there is a clear need to provide flexibility and autonomy to the hybrid teams, it would be fostered and managed through good means of communication. The collaboration tools enable seamless communication with clearly laid guidelines. The guidelines would help set common ground among peers, reporting managers, and clients without going overboard. The tools for collaboration must be standardized and consistent examples of using one tool across the organization must be adhered to.

Inclusive hybrid meetings should occur with onsite/off-site teams across multiple GEOs without opting out. Setting expectations about response times and which communication tools team members should use is critical in reaping the benefits of collaboration. Identify multiple communication channels, including text messaging, video conferencing, or voice calls. Leverage them appropriately, based on the guidelines set. Provide necessary training to enable the team members to determine when to use what. Evaluate needs for increased adoption of tools like JIRA, Monday.com, and Asana for tracking project activities with absolute milestones and timelines. Establish remote-based activities to ensure retaining cultural aspects of the organization beyond work.

Operational Cost

A global talent pool through remote working would help cut operational costs significantly. Fewer people in the workplace means you have reduced unused space, and obviously, you will get financial benefits when you move to a smaller office or use it for different purposes. This move might, in turn, reduce rentals, energy costs, media usage costs, etc. It might also foster creativity in creating a dynamic workplace resulting in better space utilization, further saving costs in terms of fuel for the employees or travel for commuting to the office. Employees are open to selecting the place of liking with less operational cost to work, creating cost-effective and better hybrid teams.

It’s also imperative for the HR, administration, and IT Infrastructure team to enable the hybrid work environment by providing support on a reliable internet connection, providing access to collaboration tools, enhanced and responsive help desk, collaboration on files, and minimizing the needs for multiple access credentials for different applications by enabling single sign-on, etc.,

Meeting Team member’s needs

Hybrid work models minimize the absences/leave from work for trivial needs or minor issues at home. In case of minor/negligible health issues, employees continue to work from home without affecting the office environment, allowing them to heal themselves and continue performing with the tiniest impact on their health. It allows situations like a single mother or father to take care of a sick kid and provides flexibility to attain a good work-life balance. This kind of work model provides a sense of safety and belonging to the employer, not to repeat that moving out of this option might pose a threat regarding retention issues to HR.

Tracking projects in Hybrid global project teams:

As per the new Global Trends in Project Management 2022 report, there are a few challenges in managing projects in today’s hybrid world.

challenges in managing projects in today's hybrid world

Challenges in managing projects in today’s hybrid world

  1. Poor cross-team collaboration

The hybrid team is highly likely to split into many groups like the “us vs. them” mentality. So the relationships between co-workers turn too formal, and many traditional opportunities for relationship-building between team members may fail. In addition, it’s more difficult to maintain close friendships with poor cross-team collaboration in hybrid work culture.

  1. Difficulty working in a remote environment

Working from various locations, time zones, and cultural differences may affect the team’s coordination. These significant factors can create substantial challenges among the team in a remote environment, including managing projects, remote collaboration, task tracking, and productivity.

  1. Lack of visibility

Information sharing in hybrid teams is frequently uneven and may create miscommunication among the team. This aspect may lead to a lack of visibility, and disparity creates an irrelevant information hierarchy among team members. Hybrid teams should be aware of the problem among the team and set ground rules to ensure that the issues are sorted out consistently.

  1. Time-consuming reporting

The hybrid work culture will likely affect the team’s productivity. According to many studies, remote workers work only a few hours daily and spend their free time on social media. This phenomenon means that, despite the best efforts, hybrid teams certainly don’t impose the best time in management practices.

  1. Outdated processes

Outdated processes are more than an annoyance that impedes a company’s day-to-day operations. They become ingrained in your company’s identity, creating impassable trenches between departments, causing team dissatisfaction and inefficiency, and jeopardizing overall success.

  1. Ineffective scheduling

Poor project planning and scope creep are the leading causes of hybrid team failure. Project managers either lack an overview of all tasks and milestones or struggle during unanticipated schedule changes that affect overall delivery timelines.

  1. Difficulty in incorporating agile processes and plans 

It will be challenging to create a hybrid work culture that blends Agile and traditional plan-driven project management principles and practices in the right proportions to fit a given situation. But doing so takes a lot of skill and understanding how to balance the two can be crucial to success.

  1. Outdated software

Hybrid workers also spend an hour or more per week dealing with technical issues, saying they aren’t well-supported when troubleshooting problems. In addition, it may lead to a loss of productivity. Forcing employees to use outdated technology and providing insufficient support may result in an organizational brain drain.

How the project manager should equip to handle these challenges:

The project manager has to identify areas where there is a need for physical presence. Explain the dynamics to respective peer members on the need for certain individuals to be in the office for work. For example, the projects that need physical access to the Lab, teams working on embedded products available only in office locations due to client restrictions, etc., a right mix has to be identified, such as fully remote, full onsite, or a combination of both. Project managers should also focus on the schedules considering the global teams involved.

These kinds of challenges mentioned above lead to miscommunication or misinterpretations. Clarity needs to be brought in between the project manager and team members in the hybrid global teams’ perspective with the help of well-established communication guidelines. Clarity will avoid confusion and promote efficiency. Project managers need to be trained on hybrid scenarios and tools essential to managing better. They need to get exposure to project management tools, collaboration tools, and IT Infrastructure setup such as VPN, remote access, etc. concerning collaboration tools or using tools for virtual meetings – aspects like Polls, Hand raise, and Q & A options to collaborate better.

Maximize the opportunity of meeting at a physical workplace to clear the air on certain issues and make the best use of time to increase clarity on project goals and open issues. Establishing feedback loops while implementing the hybrid global project models is important. The project managers need to ask for feedback from the team. Leveraging surveys and getting additional details on feedback and implementation would be very handy.

With hybrid work, whether employees’ desires have changed?

According to Microsoft

According to Microsoft

“Perks like free food and a corner office are no longer what people value most,” Microsoft says.

Instead, a positive culture (chosen by 46 percent of survey respondents), mental health and well-being benefits (42 percent), and a sense of purpose or meaning are the top things workers want from an employer, aside from a good salary (40 percent). Flexible hours are also highly regarded.

Creativity is becoming increasingly important, and more employees seek to design their jobs around it. According to Microsoft, 70% of Gen Z workers and 67% of millennials are considering starting a “side project” or business to supplement their income in the coming year.

Summary

Hybrid global project teams present challenges and opportunities for the project managers, demanding prudent strategy and pragmatic planning. It is time for project managers to exhibit leadership skills by understanding hybrid models deeper. After all, projects are run by people, and the team needs to stay on course to deliver value to all the stakeholders.

Feel free to check out my discussion on this topic with Thomas Walenta in YouTube

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