Last week I ran a workshop specifically for project sponsors. Every person in the room was a senior manager, they sponsored projects and yes, managed them as well.
On my travels to the training venue, I sent a Tweet that read:
Running project sponsor workshop today. Why are so few courses run for such a key group? Any suggestions?
Not surprisingly, I had no takers.
So, why so few development opportunities (courses and workshops) for this important group?
In February this year, Arras People published a report called Arras People Project Management Report 2010. In their report, they found that senior managers lack of support contributed to project failure.
Scouring the internet as I frequently do and looking at back copies of magazines shows there are articles about this topic – not enough – but sufficient to give you a feeling that the training and development of senior managers is an untapped area.
In my 16 years as Director of Project Agency we have run courses for sponsors (see http://bit.ly/dcOXjX ) but, very few compared to courses for project managers. This is not for the want of trying. Much energy and effort has been put into convincing and influencing senior managers of the need for this type of training.
So, what can be done to try and develop such an important group? I clearly do not have all of the answers however here are a few suggestions:
- Pressure from project managers – on a couple of occasions a few project managers have returned from a training course and debated the topic with senior managers with a workshop for them resulting
- There are many competency frameworks in use and maybe there is a link to one for sponsors. Clearly the performance appraisal process will need to identify development needs based on the framework
- Critical incidence – projects do go wrong! However, how many companies really examine what went right and what went wrong? If the Arras survey is to be believed then some of the errors will be down to a lack of senior managers’ engagement. This would need to be rectified by some training and development activity
- Conferences – I speak at a variety of conferences and this is one way of attracting attention of senior managers to the need for training in this area
I believe the project management industry has not made the progress that it should have done. So, what suggestions do you have for engaging and influencing and ultimately developing this group of staff?