Helping the manager-sponsor relationship

Arguably the most important relationship on a project is the one between the project manager and the project sponsor. If these two people don’t work effectively together the chances of success are greatly reduced.

Books, bodies of knowledge and methodologies will all contain a lot of words about how the manager and sponsor should work together. Praxis is no exception. There is a topic devoted to sponsorship and the life cycle processes talk a lot about how manager and sponsor should interact.

But all these operational principles and good advice miss one big thing – the project manager and project sponsor are human beings. A more emphatic statement of the obvious would be hard to find so what’s the point?

The thing is that each human being perceives everything from a very personal perspective. This perspective may be influenced by past experience and context but most significantly from each person’s personal characteristics. Two people may read all that guidance and good practice but interpret it, and its implementation, in very different ways.

That’s potentially very damaging to the relationship. Both have read the same text, perhaps been on the same training course and agreed on the way forward. But none of that guarantees a common understanding. Each thinks they understand how the relationship will work but when it doesn’t the problems start.

Praxis offers a simple way to address this problem. DISC is one of the most common types of psychometric assessment around today. It comes in many different brand names but all based on the same behavioural model.

This popularity means that you may have already done a DISC based assessment and so may your sponsor. If not, there are many free assessments available on the Web. Typically, DISC based assessments allocate a colour to your natural behaviours with red, green, yellow and blue being the typical four types.

So here’s what to do. Find out your DISC type; are you predominantly Dominant, Influential, Steady or Conscientious. Then ask your sponsor to do the same assessment. Of course, you may both have the same characteristics, in which case your perceptions of how to manage the project will largely coincide. But there is a good chance that you are different.

Team Praxis contains many pages explaining how people with different behavioural types will perceive the principles of project management in different ways. Looking through these will help you gain an understanding of each other’s preferred styles of management. That can help considerably in developing and maintaining an effective working partnership. It won’t mean you always see eye to eye but at least you’ll know where the other person is coming from.

Here's the place to start: Team Praxis Introduction



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