About the Author: Amy Buttiglieri, MBA, PMP, is the owner of A Solid Launch Consulting, which promotes a human-centered approach to leadership and team development. She has an active project management practice and has been a Board Member with PMI Central Massachusetts since 2015. Amy is also the owner of Honored Memory Grave Care and spends her free time planting memorial gardens and cleaning headstones for clients in local cemeteries. She resides in Westborough, Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.
Is your project’s Steering Committee engaged and active? Do they help clear roadblocks…or erect them? Project Managers often view their monthly SteerCo meetings as a “status update” – a necessary evil to endure so they can get back to the real work. This attitude benefits no one. The SteerCo probably knows everything on the report already, the PM spent time creating a presentation that glosses over any real issues, and after attending several useless sessions, Steering Committee members will start multi-tasking during the meeting…or worse, find an excuse to stop coming altogether!
There is a better way, and it starts with the way you, the Project Manager, view your SteerCo. First, see them as people, not positions. Get to know each member. What drives them? Are they introverted or extroverted? What is their greatest project concern? What is their management style? The more you know and the stronger your professional relationship, the easier it becomes for you to call them with a question or to tailor your communications for the best response.
Next, recognize your Steering Committee is a team, just like your Core Team. As a team, they are used to working cross-functionally. They have the skills and experience to look across the company to see the impact of each project decision. And they are looking to you to lead them in this project. Your responsibility is to develop your Management Team, and even if they’ve been working together for 20 years, every new project means the group must progress through the four stages of team development (Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing).
Finally, view each email, meeting, and presentation as an opportunity to develop your relationship with the team. Be careful that every aspect of your communication has a purpose and comes from a place of honest intention. If you’re shy, don’t act gregarious and tell jokes to keep your meetings interesting. Don’t invent issues for your SteerCo to resolve so they’ll feel like they’re helping. The success of your project is tied to the success of your Management Team. Treat them as the valuable asset they are and they will knock down the roadblocks that slow your project. Respect them as individuals, and they will jump through hoops to help ensure the project – and you – are successful.