Oct 12, 2018

What He Said: Rules of Engagement, from the Mayo Clinic CRM PMO - The View from PMI Part 2

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Benefits Realization, Culture & Change Management, Human Capital, Strategy Execution | 0 Comments

Employee engagement builds bench strength for the future.

My top feel-good session at this year’s PMI Global Conference was a case study of the Mayo Clinic’s PMO at their Center for Regenerative Medicine. Not only is the visionary work of the CRM inspiring, but I was impressed by the PMO leader, Wale Elegbede, PMP. When he said, “Leadership is influence. Values are the North Star,” his demeanor and humility as a presenter made me feel that he was a leader who truly walked his talk. His talk was wide-ranging, but most important for me was the portion on employee engagement, which also formed part of my own presentation, on improving strategy exeuction with project management processes.

It seems obvious that involving all stakeholders in an organization is crucial to turn strategic plans into realities. And since stakeholder management (or, as PMI has now termed it, much to my delight, stakeholder engagement) is a key knowledge area of project managers, that should give us some ready made expertise in getting all hands on deck for strategic projects and organizational change. But our organizations are like any other: and the statistics on employee engagement are not always encouraging.

Elegbede's first point was simple:focus on what is important to stakeholders. In the Mayo Clinic's case, as a nonprofit health care company, they have William J. Mayo’s foundational statement “the needs of the patient come first” as a guiding light. In for-profilt organizations, it isn't always as clear-cut what motivates and inspires people, and we may have to spend a good bit of time at the front end understanding what factors will build engagement with strategy. In either case, Elegbede's second point holds true:

Communication is the basis for issue and risk identification across disciplines. As I stressed my my own presentation, strategy is not something that "if you build it, they will come." You can't communicate too much about what the strategy is, how it will be realized, and the part that each member of the organization must play to bring it to fruition.

When he got to the slides about employee engagement, I couldn't scribble fast enough. He had found a 2015 study from Bain & Company that compared the productivity of "satisfied," "engaged" and "inspired" employees. I knew that employee engagement makes a difference to the bottom line, but I was surprised how dramatic the numbers were. Engaged employees perform at 144% of productivity targets, inspired employees at 225%! Inspired are those who derive personal meaning from the vision and leadership of the organization.

What builds engagement? According to research, autonomy, the opportunity to grow, and feelings of making a difference are key. And when it comes to inspiring people, leaders cannot do better than the simple list Elegbede provided:

  • Honesty
  • Communication
  • Support

Engagement doesn't merely help get work done today: it also creates sustainability by building the bench strength. As important as it is to get this year's strategic projects off the ground, project management leaders should always be thinking ahead about who is going to lead the next projects and help define the next strategies. Because that is where project management is headed: straight to the strategy table. High performing organizations in our study are already there, tasking the enterprise PMO with helping to formulate, manage, and track strategies and their important products: value and benefits.

You can’t lead sustainably by relying on formal authority alone.

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