Senior Management involvement is a must

Never underestimate the value of Senior Management involvement in your project!

Your ability to gain buy-in and support from across an organisation is really dependent on having one or more Senior Managers along for the ride.  Your project needs to be something that these managers talk about, whenever the opportunity arises.

Strongly consider creating a 30 second elevator pitch, to provide to them, so that they too can succinctly describe what your project is about and the benefits to the organisation.

These managers will have buy-in to your project if it provides something to them of benefit, and you can show them this.  Or, their staff need to be involved to help deliver the project.  The best way to gain their support for staff involvement is by having the manager fully understand your project and why their help is needed.

Senior Managers have the power to draw in staff, other key people that need to be involved in your project, for one purpose or another.  Whether they manage the pool of resources that your SME’s are going to be drawn from in the requirements gathering phase, or the staff in the Communications team who will help you get your messages out there when they need to be delivered, each Senior Manager will have a key part to play for you.

Also consider the power of having one or two key Senior managers on side, when the time comes to handle those other managers who might not want to work with you to obtain the projects benefits.  These allies will be a real help to get you across the line in terms of support for your change.

Keep them involved

It is very worthwhile having regular one-on-one catch up’s with each Senior Manager.  Fifteen minutes is all you need.  It’s enough to give them a quick update on where things are at, and the key issues that you have, especially if it is an area where they have influence.   If you have these catch up’s regularly, you will quickly find that the managers look forward to them and are only too willing to assist you, when they need to.

These Senior Managers may also be a part of your Project Control Board or Steering Committee, so it’s very important to fully understand:-

  • their idea about what your project will /won’t deliver
  • their needs in terms of what is going to be delivered
  • where they can provide assistance (i.e. their areas of interest, sphere(s) of influence)
  • how they are going to support you
  • what level of information they require from you

All of these are key to creating a strong personal relationship with the Manager, one that will hold you in good steed and greatly benefit your project.

No Senior Management involvement…

Not having Senior Management involvement is cause for trouble, not only for you, but more importantly for your project.

You have no leverage if you are having difficulties and need resources, funding, or information, or anything that a project needs to run efficiently.

You are likely to have discord.  People doing their own thing, counter to what your project is going to achieve, therefore undermining it’s value.  It can also mean that there is confusion about what it is that you are really going to deliver.

It also means you may have no real mandate for what you’re doing – which spells Trouble, with a capital ‘T’.  If your project doesn’t have a mandate, you may as well forget managing the project and look for another job.  The likelihood of success for you is very very low.  No one likes to work on a project that’s set up to fail!

You’ll also find that you have difficulty gaining the resources that you need to staff and complete your project – not a good position to be in.

The real value of their involvement

The real value in having Senior Management involvement is:-

  • Support for your project and what it is going to achieve in more ways than you would have thought
  • A voice for the ‘What’s In It For Me’
  • A key escalation path, when you’re having difficulty getting buy-in
  • Allies when there are detractor(s) causing trouble
  • Decision maker(s) who have the authority to actually make the decisions
  • Someone with power to say that “this is mandated” in cultures where people would rather do things their own way
  • A person or people with load enough voices to be heard selling the benefits of your project.

As you can see, there is REAL value in having Senior Manager involvement in your project.


Written by Karen Munro