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Many project managers in a structured PMO environment know that they have to do presentations before management or clients providing management level status updates about their project or program. As the performance review time comes and project managers want promotion accompanied by increased compensation, how much they have used their project performance as catalytic vehicles to promote their personal brand is often not understood by many project managers. Little do many realize the type and structure of presentations in the first place in engaging with the stakeholders and use these presentation styles to their strategic advantage, building their own individual personal brand.
For instance, when the performance review time comes, why should they be considered for a promotion? Granted their ability to deliver projects on budget, on the scope, and on time (often called by OBOSOT) is critical. But, despite the best efforts of a project manager to proactively identify risks and have risk response strategies to address these risks, the external environmental factors may adversely impact the project contributing to schedule slips, cost overruns, customer dissatisfaction, or project terminations. The management presentations, stage gate reviews, and health checks are an opportunity to engage with the stakeholders to address all these issues!
The project manager’s ability to engage with the stakeholders managing their expectations proactively, thinking through the transition of the project to operations and sustaining the benefits for the performing organization, and communicating these results with the subsequent impacts on the project positions the stakeholders to represent their interests to their management. The management presentations that project managers deliver is a critical component of this stakeholder engagement that further serves as an essential input to building a personal brand.
The presentations in general fall under three categories, namely informative, persuasive, or explanatory.
- The “informative presentations” often summarize status updates of a project and review reports and variance analysis to project team members, project sponsor, and some senior members of management depending on the project visibility.
- The “explanatory presentations” involve workshop or training style presentations where stakeholders or team members across the functions are trained to understand the processes, tools, policies, procedures, etc. The goal is building team morale, addressing change management, training on tools and technologies, understanding processes, etc.
- The “persuasive presentations” focus on lobbying for a solution and presenting a strategy providing substantial reasons for the reasons, risks (threats/opportunities), impacts or benefits on failure in a reasonable time. The audience in this presentation is often the senior management including the sponsor involved in the decision making.
This persuasive meeting, for instance, is a moment for management to know more about your critical thinking and leadership skills. The explanatory session demonstrates your facilitation skills as well as your ability to be a change agent across the organization on realizing the value of the benefits derived from your project, program, product, or portfolio outcomes. The informative meeting is the opportunity to shine to the leadership that you are managing potential risks and addressing costs of quality proactively more than the project outputs. These presentations are the unscheduled interviews for the project managers where the senior leadership takes copious notes on how well you presented the solution and how thorough your analysis was aligned with the strategic objectives. It is these presentations that come vividly to the senior management’s mind with their mind voice reinforcing your need for a promotion.
So, take these management meetings seriously. Every management review meeting, personal encounter with the business sponsor, and team meeting are unscheduled career-improvement interviews. The responses from these interactions should be followed through on how you did, where you could improve, and have action plans to ensure that you are addressing these that your management sees. Maximize the opportunities, therefore, by using your strengths in these meetings and eliminate the threats of stalled career growth by addressing your weaknesses.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.
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Dr. Sriram Rajagopalan has more than 20 years of professional experience with exposure to multiple industries. He currently works as the Vice President of Training and Organizational Excellence at Aptus Health. Previously, he worked in the same capacity establishing the Proposition Delivery and Program Management Office. He also established a Project Office in West Notifications Group. He has delivered numerous projects for clients such as eFunds, Northwest Airlines, CVS Pharmacy, Prime Therapeutics, US Airways, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and several pharmaceutical firms, such as GSK, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Astellas, Depomed, and Boehringer-Ingelheim.
Sriram received the international prestigious Eric Jenett award on the Best of the Best Project Management Excellence award in Oct 2017 and was also a finalist for the Kerzner award for process excellence in 2012. He frequently blogs at agilesriram.blogspot.com, has published peer-reviewed scholarly international journals, articles at Scrum Alliance and PM Network on topics related to project management, agile transformation, and about the TONES© and PARAG© framework to middle management transformation through self-initiated postdoctoral work. He is also an active speaker speaking about these topics in professional conferences.
Sriram also holds several professional certifications (PgMP, PMP, PMI-CP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, CSM, CSPO, CSD, CSP, IT Project+, ACC, SCM, SCPO, SCD, SAMC, SCT, CSOXP and Six Sigma Green Belt). With extensive experience in strategic project and program delivery, he promotes the scholar practitioner approach teaching as Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University and University of Riverside. He is also an active volunteer at PMI Mass Bay having served in the capacities of Director of Speaker’s Bureau, Vice President of Marketing and Communication, and as a past-board member. He also volunteers at Agile Alliance conferences and is a mentor at NAAAP.
Sriram also engages actively in training project management and agile concepts including certification preparation through his own business, Agile Training Champions (www.agiletrainingchampions.com) and also in spreading project management as a discipline to younger children in schools and colleges through his initiative on Projecting Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) initiative (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyS_iXEH4OY)/
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the University of Madras, India, Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Wayne State University, Michigan, MBA degree in Management from Concordia University, Wisconsin, and a doctorate degree in Organization and Management from Capella University, Minnesota.
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