Monthly Archives: November 2013

Developing your team

teambuildingIf you are a leader, you are responsible for building the team you lead! One of the key stakeholder management roles fulfilled by effective team leaders and project managers is helping their team members grow and improve.

Remember, you cannot be successful as a leader unless your team succeeds in achieving its objectives! And helping team members develop their capabilities has two paybacks – helping people develop their skills and capabilities is a great motivator (see more on motivation) plus having more highly skilled, capable and motivated team members gets more work done. A win-win outcome that can return big dividends for a relatively small investment.


As a leader you have four basic options to choose from: teaching, coaching, counselling and mentoring. Understanding the differences and selecting the right option for each situation helps you help your team to be successful.

Tutoring / Teaching
The focus of teaching is to impart knowledge and information through instruction and explanation. And the goal for the student is to acquire a skill or pass a test. The learning has a one-way flow and the relationship between teacher and student is low. These days’ web tools can be used to deliver teaching on demand.

Teaching is effective for: Simple knowledge transfer. This can be facilitated by external experts delivering focused training sessions or asking a skilled team member to do the teaching. Your job is to make sure the right training gets to the right people at the right time.

Coaching usually focuses on task and performance. The role of the coach is to give feedback on observed performance and this usually happens at the workplace. The coach is likely to set or suggest goals for the learner and measure performance periodically as the learner develops new skills. This needs a good working relationship between learner and coach.

Coaching is effective for: Driving improved performance. Every elite sports team has a committed coach. As a team leader, you need to take this role seriously if you want to lift your team’s skills and performance to the elite level!

The counsellor uses listening and questioning to build self-awareness and self-confidence in the client. The goal is to help the person deal with something they are finding emotionally difficult. Once again learning is one-way and the closeness of the relationship low.

Counselling is effective for: Helping a team member deal with personal difficulties. Again, in appropriate circumstances don’t be afraid to bring a skilled external counsellor.

Mentoring is a partnership between two people and emphasises a mutuality of learning. The role of the mentor is to build capability and help the learner discover their personal wisdom by encouraging the learner to work towards career goals or develop self-reliance. Mentors may draw on a number of approaches (teaching, coaching and counselling) to help mentees achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves. Because the relationship is mutually beneficial strong bonds are often forged which often outlast the mentoring relationship. However, because the mentoring relationship is focused on the mentee’s personal goals it should be kept separate from direct lines of management control; it is very difficult to mentor a direct report. For more on Mentoring see: The Art of Mentoring.

Mentoring is effective for: Building the capability of the learner. Carefully select the people in which to invest the effort and emotion of building a relationship. If it’s not right for you, help your team member find the right mentor

Selecting the best option
Within you team;

  • Use teaching for simple knowledge transfer, there’s no harm in bringing in expertise or asking a skills team member to do the teaching.
  • Use coaching to drive improved performance – every elite sports team has a committed coach, as a team leader you need to take this role seriously!
  • Use counselling one-on-one to help a team member deal with personal difficulties; again don’t be afraid of bringing in external assistance from a skilled councillor.
  • Use mentoring to help build the capability of the mentee. You need to carefully select the people to invest your emotions in building a relationship with, if it’s not right for you, help the person find the right mentor for them.

The difference between coaching and mentoring is largely about focus and goal setting. Coaching focuses on improving performance, mentoring on building capability. The coach usually sets goals for the learner, whereas in mentoring the learner sets their own goals, and to help achieve these goals, a mentor may draw on a number of approaches: teaching, coaching, and counselling.

The other significant difference between mentoring and the other forms of development is the relationship forged between two people. Good mentors offer the learner the right kind of help and support and adapt to the needs of the learner – so what makes a good mentor?

What Makes a Good Mentor?
The attributes and skills of a good mentor include:
1.   Being committed to learning and helping others learn
2.   Being a good listener
3.   Displaying empathy
4.   Building rapport
5.   Encouraging the learner to speak
6.   Observation and reflection
7.   Providing constructive challenges
8.   Is self-aware and understands others
9.   Has intuitive wisdom from life experience
10.  Helping the learner reshape their thinking
11.  Is politically or professionally savvy
12.  Shares experiences
13.  Steps back from the detail
14.  Manages the relationship and not the goals
15.  Offers friendship

Finally, the mentor will keep the relationship confidential. What is said between mentor and mentee is confidential and never shared with others except in very special circumstances (See more on Mosaic’s mentoring options).

The power of coaching
Employees want a great deal more coaching than they receive. When leaders take the time to coach their team effectively, the results can be impressive. How Much Difference Does Coaching Make? Jack Zenger suggest effective coaching will generate:

  • Up to 8 times higher levels of employee engagement and commitment!
  • Over 3 times more willingness to “go the extra mile” for the team or organization
  • Up to 2.5 times higher levels of job satisfaction
  • Up to 2 times higher ratings of supervisor effectiveness
  • Only half as many employees thinking about quitting

Leading to dramatically higher levels of client service and satisfaction, and we know that engaged employees are a key ingredient to creating a high performance team.

However you choose to develop in your team members, the investment is worthwhile. An empowered, motivated and skilled team is the best underpinning you can have in your quest to be a successful leader.

4th Annual Nordic Project Zone Conference


Next week, I will be in Copenhagen, fulfilling an invitation to present at the Nordic Project Zone Summit 2013, which is taking place on 26-27 November at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia, Copenhagen. For more on the Summit, see:

My presentation will focus on ‘Implementing effective stakeholder engagement: Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity (SRMM®)’. – download the presentation.

The ROI from investing in building an effective stakeholder management culture can be significant (see earlier post) and the SRMM® model is designed to help organisation develop an effective culture of engagement that works for them.

The good news is the SRMM® model is freely available under a creative commons licence! Originally proposed in my book Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation published by Gower. The basic model can be downloaded from

After a week in chilly Copenhagen I will be looking forward to getting back to the warmth of an Australian Christmas.

Project Controls – A Definition

ControlsSeveral months ago at the Project Governance and Controls Symposium in Canberra I was asked to define project controls. Everyone talks about ‘controls’ but exactly what is included and how does ‘controls’ relate to other disciplines such as project governance?  To answer this question, my proposed definition for ‘project controls’ is:

Project controls are the data gathering, management and analytical processes used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of a project or program; through the communication of information in formats that assist effective management and decision making.

This definition encompasses all stages of a project or program’s lifecycle from the initial estimating needed to ‘size’ a proposed project, through to the forensic analysis needed to understand the causes of failure (and develop claims).

The functions undertaken by project controls professionals includes estimating future works, determining the current status of work in progress, understanding the reasons for this status and recommending appropriate actions or alternatives based on the observed status and trends. Within this framework, for a recommendation or prediction to be useful, the reliability of the information upon which it is based needs to be understood, and additionally, any realistic estimate or forecast must take into account uncertainty and the cost and time consequences of identified risk events.

Consequently, the project controls discipline can be seen as encompassing:

  • Project strategy, planning and methods studies to optimize future outcomes,
  • Scheduling including development, updating and maintenance,
  • Cost estimation, cost engineering/control and value engineering,
  • Risk management,
  • Earned Value Management and Earned Schedule, including WBS, OBS and other breakdown structures,
  • Document management,
  • Supplier performance measurement / oversight (but excluding contract administration),
  • The elements of a project management methodology that integrate these disciplines both within the ‘controls’ domain and with other project management functions, and
  • The ability to communicate effectively the information generated by these processes.

This proposed definition deliberately excludes the actual management of the project scope, including scope related disciplines such as quality control, and general management disciplines such as team development, stakeholder management and communication. ‘Controls’ information is often an important input to these functions but the ‘controls’ role is information generation, management’s role is making effective use of the information.

This means: Project Controllers are the experts who gather, manage and analyse data to generate useful information and insights for others to use. And the primary users of the ‘controls information’ are the project management team and project governance and oversight entities within the organisation such as PMOs and ‘project control boards’ (PCBs).

Certainly, the surveillance aspects of time, cost and risk are intimately linked to the accomplishment of scope, to the quality standards required by the stakeholders, by the project team; but the ‘controls’ processes are not directly involved with the management of project work. Project controls professionals work with the team and other stakeholders to plan the optimum way of accomplishing the work, then measure the actual performance of the team against the agreed plan and use this data to recommend future actions and predict outcomes.

Most authorities recognise that it is impossible to effectively manage or govern a project (or program) in the absence of reliable information on the current status of work in progress, and reliable predictions of future outcomes. This is supported by this proposed definition, with the key delineator between ‘controls’ and ‘management’ being the recognition that it is management’s role to make use of the information and advice generated by the controls professionals.

This theme is carrying forward to the 2014 governance and controls symposium – you are invited to be a part of the debate! To catch the ‘web hot specials’ and/or submit a proposal for a paper visit the symposium website at:

Once the definition of ‘controls’ is resolved, the next step will be establishing a framework of certifications and qualifications to benchmark ‘professional’ knowledge and behaviours. There is already good progress in this area with developments by AACEi, Planning Planet, PMI and CIOB to name a few (see more on PMI and CIOB credentials).  What’s lacking in the general ‘market’ is a general recognition that effective controls professionals need domain knowledge as well as tools knowledge.  Developing this recognition is the next challenge.

Project Governance and Controls Symposium – Canberra

PCGS BackThe Project Governance and Controls Symposium (PGCS) is back bigger and better then ever! Returning to Canberra on May 6-7, 2014, PGCS is the only Australasian symposium dedicated to promoting Project Performance Management through the interlined disciplines of project controls and program, portfolio and project (PPP) governance.

Hosted by Platinum Sponsors, UNSW Canberra, the symposium will be held at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). This illustrious venue has given us the opportunity to expand and enhance the symposium to include both academic and industry streams in a two day program of symposium sessions and workshops.

Be Part of the Program!

Academic papers: We have introduced a peer reviewed stream for Academic Papers managed by UNSW, the opening date for Academic Paper submissions is 15 November 2013; the closing date for acceptance of submissions is 1st February 2014. For more information on the academic application process and key submission dates, please click here.

Industry Presentations Welcomed! The PGCS is also seeking a broad spectrum of practical presentations that look at tools, techniques, case studies and other aspects of governance and controls in an organisational setting. Formal papers are welcomed but not essential for this stream – share your knowledge and experience with your peers and colleagues. For more information on the industry submission process, please click here.

Registrations are now open! You cannot afford to miss the Web Hot Specials. Come and join an extensive line up of keynote speakers and industry specialist including:

  • Karen Richey, an Assistant Director for the Applied Research and Methods Team at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington. Karen will be talking on the Lessons Learned from GAO Reviews of Federal Agency Capital Acquisition Programs and the GAO Improvement Initiative is the USA.
  • Stephan Vandevoorde, head of the Airport Systems Division of Cofely Fabricom N.V./S.A. (Belgium) He is a founding member and Director of the EVM Europe Association ( and will discuss the proposition that If Time is Money, Accuracy Pays Dividends: An Overview of Past and Future Project Management Research.

PGCS is managed as a not-for-profit conference designed to bring together the many strands of project governance and controls thinking and development world-wide to enhance the knowledge and understanding of these important functions within the wider Australian community. Key supporters include the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the College of Performance Management and EVM Europe, plus our hosts, the UNSW.

To take advantage of the Web Hot Specials or simply to stay up to date with developments see: