Managers are employed to accomplish very specific project requirements (e.g. a sales manager has to guide and inspire the sales team to reach certain targets that the organisation has set; a call-centre manager must ensure quality and speed to enable customers to understand and purchase projects or get resolution to problems they are experiencing, etc.). In order to be successful, therefore, the manager needs to have special skills to solicit ideas for improvements, problem-solve issues, work on team cohesion, provide change leadership tools, give instruction in an adult education format, create an environment for personal growth, etc., to name a few. Company success rests typically in the hands of the CEO and other directors – the quality of the relationship and depth of communication that the manager has with these directors is foundational to the success of the project.
The manager thus needs to take cognisance of the following important areas of focus in this relationship with the directors (project owners):
- Understanding – getting to grips with the project intention and expected outcomes of the intervention. Understanding accelerates alignment, so care should be taken to immerse oneself in the vision and goals of the company and how this project relates to the same.
- Feedback (from project owner to manager) – this assists understanding in terms of the impact of the manager’s leadership on the employees and can also solicit information on previously overlooked facts, opinions and feelings.
- Feedback (from manager to project owner) – without breaching confidentiality, the manager should illustrate trends, perceived obstacles and feelings and communicate other helpful information back to the project owner. The project owner can thus start making meaningful changes within the organisation even if the project is incomplete. These “quick wins” start giving people hope.
- Measurement data – captured data (from surveys, discussions, assessments, etc.) needs to be relayed to the project owner professionally.
- Reporting – establish both ongoing reporting and final reporting formats before the initiative begins. Once templates are confirmed, faithfully provide the necessary information, including manager/team suggestions for consideration by the project owner.
- Follow up – embedding the process and ensuring that suggestions are discussed and expected behaviours are encouraged. The manager is aiming for real change throughout the process.
- Record-keeping and compliance – maintain detailed records of all interventions according to the legal requirements of the relevant industry.
The manager’s relationship with the project owner is of paramount importance. The flow of quality information between the manager and the project owner maintains alignment within the project. The success of the project depends on it.