Managers Are Craftsmen

“Managers are the craftsmen and strategy is their clay”. This is the theory of Henry Mintzberg. A craftsman is an artist who is able to create marvelous work. He usually makes use of his talent, past experience, innovation etc to create a new piece of work. In case of management a manager like the craftsmen, also analysis the market situation, environment, political issues etc before implementing a strategy.

Strategy is a set of actions through which an organisation by accident or design develops resources and uses them to deliver services or products in a way which its users find valuable, while meeting the financial and other objectives and constraints imposed by key stake holders (Adrian Haberberg and Alison Rieple: 2008). This definition states that to attain the organisational goals the managers formulate the plans and actions to effectively utilize its resources in the best possible way. It also says the importance of its customer’s value and satisfaction in using their product which has been strategically improvised. Mintzberg defines strategy in terms of five P’s which are perspective, plan, ploy, pattern, and position. Where perspectives are the concepts of the company and the way in which these concepts are achieved, plan is the direction, a guide or a course of action which would lead the organisation from present to the future, ploy is the hard fought means of achieving the competitive advantage, pattern is the ability of an organisation to make decisions, position determines the enterprise location within its external and internal competitive environment.

Strategic management is a process that includes top managements analysis of the environment in which its organisation operates prior to formulating a strategy as well as the plans for implementation and control the strategy (John Parnell: 2008). In providing a strategy the management plays a vital role. In simple words we can define managers as a person who manages the workforce. These managers craft the strategies that are required for achieving the organisation goal. The managers are classified into three they are the corporate level managers, business level managers and the functional level managers. The corporate level managers are the individuals who hold the top most position in an organisation they include the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operational officer (COO), chief information officer (CIO), chairperson of the board, president, vice president and corporate heads. The top level managers take strategic decision when they are aware of the current issues that affect their company as well as the global market. Regardless of the profit and non profit status of the CEO’s of an organisation they should understand the environment and its ability to survive and then develop strategies that would enable the organisation to attain its goal.

The business level managers are also known as the middle level managers. They come under the corporate level managers. They hold job titles such as general managers, plant managers, regional managers, and divisional managers. The main function of the middle level managers is to carry out the goals set by the corporate level managers by motivating the employees and giving the proper feedback to the top level managers. The functional level managers are the bottom level managers who carry out the operational functions of the organisation. They are the frontline managers and supervisors who are responsible for the daily management of the workers. They have job titles such as office manager, shift supervisors, department managers; fore person crew leader etc. strategies are formulated at all levels of the management and depending on the level it is originated strategies are classified into corporate level strategy, business level strategy and functional level strategy. For a large organisation, with more than one business areas will have the top level management known as the corporate who makes decision that does not relate directly to service users, but for the development of the organisation. Sony was a small company that manufactured rice cookers, voltmeters and other basic electronic equipment. One corporate strategic decision has allowed it to diversify into wireless audio and telecommunication equipments. This strategic decision has only favored Sony to be one of the best electronic manufactures in the world. Functional level strategies are short termed. They happens at all level individual functional level of the organisation. Business level strategies are those decisions taken by the management at business level for proper functioning. The organisation would choose their partners who would serve them in their business activities efficiently. The strategies that are formulated are not always the one that is implemented by the management. According to Henry Mintzberg there are two varieties of strategies, intended strategy (the strategy actually formulated by the management) and realized strategy (the strategy that management implements). This variation may happen as a result of better understanding of the environment; an improvement in the top management’s access to the environment, vital information received which was not available when the strategy was formulated. The managers are those who take the right choice of strategy for the growth of the organisation.

A good strategy is, when it is implemented, is by knowing its ability to fit in the organisational environment, its distinctiveness or uniqueness, and sustainability in the market. Strategy formulated is considered to be fit when it fits into the environment. The environment may be fast changing than others are dependable on government regulation. For example Sony has a market environment where technological innovations are very prominent. To fit into this environment they have very skilled workers as strategy which quickly allows them to incorporate these technology and are therefore not driven out by the competitors such as Samsung and LG. strategic fit also implies that any product of the same company should be fit that is every product by the company should make the customers privileged.

Distinctiveness is that quality of strategy that gives the organisation its competitive advantage. This will provide uniqueness for the product manufactures and will have a distinct position in the market place. Distinctiveness also depends on the customer choice, what he ants or what he finds so unique in the product. It can also be hidden such as its external partners, its division etc which are not accessible for its competitors, therefore they cannot be copy it. Sustainability is the ability for the organisation to remain in the market. Some of the sustainable factors are culture, architecture, organisational learning and knowledge management.

The initial stage of strategic planning is realizing the mission, vision, values, and goals. Mission statement of an organisation gives an account of the purpose of the organisation. The mission statement of Kodak is to provide “customers with the solution the need to capture, store, process, output and communicate images anywhere anytime” (Charles W L Hill, Steven L Mc Shane 2008) this statement proves that the mission statement of Kodak is customer oriented and not product oriented. A good mission statement focuses on customer need, and then only they can realize the market environment and produce products that would satisfy them. If the organisation is product oriented it will give quality products to customers but it will not sustain for long as it does not care for the customer needs. Vision is the future of the organisation, what it should produce next, how to expand etc, are the vision of an organisation. For example the vision of ford is to be the leading company in automobile products and service which would be a stretch for the company who is positioned third behind general motors and Toyota. That is the point of vision statement; it enables the organisation to achieve it by bringing new strategies, skilled employees, technologies etc.

Values are the philosophical priorities a manager is committed to. These values help the managers to build an enterprise that would satisfy the organisations missions and visions. Goal is a set of objectives that the organisation desires to achieve in future. Goals of an organisation specify what is to be done so that it can achieve its mission and vision. Most of the organisation establishes goals to attain profit growth.

While formulating a strategy the top level management should analysis the environment in two major analyses taken by the organisation they are PESTEL analysis and SWOT analysis. PESTEL is the acronym for political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal. PESTEL analysis is a macro environmental analysis. Political factors that affect the business are the actions taken by local and national administrations, political parties, and international organisations such as European commission, world trade organisation and United Nations. Economic factors related to the customers ability to spend on a particular product manufactured or sold by the company. When the inflation rate increases then the organisation would increase its productivity and innovations in product happens because the consumers have money and are ready to spend. Social and cultural factors depend on the consumer taste which will determine the demand of product ultimately. Technological factors are the ways in which the organisation and the whole society have changed tremendously. The use of bar codes and electronic point of sales has enabled the markets to expand. Environmental factors are the factors that affect the society such as diseases, global warming etc. these factors affect the spending power of the society. Legal factors are the laws and regulations that rule the particular nation. The organisation has to consider the legal factors that exist.

SWOT analysis is an internal analysis always done after PESTEL analysis. SWOT is the acronym for strength, weakness, opportunity and threats. All these elements are considered within an organisation. The management determines the organisation strength and weakness and work on its strength, how to improve the strength, and to reduce its weakness. Threats and opportunities referred to the external environment such as its competitors and their competitive advantage. A successful strategy will lead to the success of the organisation, as seen in the case of Wal Mart (CEO Sam Walton), Apple computer (CEO Steve Jobs) etc.

Strategic formulation is done depending on the size of the organisation the formulation of strategies varies. For a large organisation the formulation of strategies happen in two variables they are corporate strategy and business strategy. In corporate strategy the formulation of strategy is done taking into consideration that these strategies will be dealing with the issues of the management as a whole. The issues that are considered are the capability and competence of the organisation, basic character, the areas in which it should develop its activities, nature of its management, its governance and structure, nature of relationship with sector, its competitors and the wider environment. Business strategy is formulated keeping in mind that these strategies set are utilized by the organisation for specific organisational activities, for specific market environment, and for a particular division of the unit where the operations are allocated. Strategic formulation in a large organisation will happen with two interrelated components that is corporate and business strategy. Corporate strategy deals with the issues of the management as a whole. The issues that are included in corporate strategy are capability and competence of the organisation, basic character, the areas in which it should develop its activities nature of its management, its governance and structure, nature of relationship with sector, its competitors and wider environment. Business strategy formulated by which the organisation sets strategies for specific organisational activities, for specific market environment, and a particular division or unit where the operations are allocated. In Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) the basics of strategic formulation is forced or self imposed, required, rationalistic, deliberate, logically incremental, emergent and opportunistic. Self imposed strategies are those strategies which are formulated by force or pressure on the decision makers who are the managers, or imposed on them due to certain external and internal conditions. The internal condition include lack of leadership and resulting managerial continuity, unstabilised turnover of senior managers, no specific strategic decisions and direction, more focus on short term goals, lack of competitive advantage. The external condition include the rapid changing environmental developments, change in the existing competitive policy or competitive strategies, technological innovations, political factors, pressure from environmental groups, change in the consumer behavior, ethical values etc.

Required strategies are formulated by knowing the need for a plan that that would meet the needs of the stakeholders, enterprise capability and competencies, mission of organisation etc. Rationalistic approach to strategic formulation is also known as centralized approach where the CEO and colleagues are the pioneers in the process of strategic management. The strategic plans are always thrown over the wall from the corporate centre to subordinates for its implementation. The subordinates or low level employees may be consulted but they are not involved in making strategic decisions.

Logically incremented strategy formulation is said to be dynamically evolved over time and responding to both the internal and external conditions the company had to face. Strategies are evolved when the decision makers decide that the plan or strategy they have chosen would be applicable for achieving the organisational goal, and would prevail the business. It is a step by step approach to strategy formulation where it analyses the risk, uncertainty, unpredictability of instances.

Strategic formulation can be explained with the help of two models, the positioning and resource model also called the industrial organisation model and resource based model respectively. The sequence of industrial organisation model is analyses the environment, identify alternate industry, procure a reasonable alternative competitive advantage, develop and gain adequate resources and implement strategy by utilizing the firms resources. In this model the organisation initially examines the environment and therefore they get an idea about the kind of strategy needed to be formulated, as strategy will depend on the external and the internal environmental conditions. Decisions about the positioning of enterprice are given more importance than the capacity to implement such positioning. The organisations ability to perform will enable it to position itself in the peak of business. In the resource model the steps involved are to determine the organisation resources, understanding the capability of the organisation, determine the key competencies and competitive advantage of the organisation, determining an alternative industry, formulate the appropriate strategy and implement it. In this method the managers should give more importance to what the company can do rather than what it should do. The managers make use of any one of these plans to formulate the strategy.

Once a possible strategy is formulated the next step for the top level management is to successfully implement these strategies. Strategic implementation consists of putting these strategies into effect. The crucial stage of strategy is its implementation. Two main reasons why implementing strategy is difficult is firstly due to the existence of a number of departments in the organisation, and different stake holders associated and secondly due to the nature of hierarchy that exist in the organisation, the different level of decision and strategy making. Some of the weaknesses of strategic implementation are tokenism, bureaucratization, considering strategy for a short term profits etc which needed to be avoided before implementing the strategy. To make the separate departments of the organisations working together while implementing strategy is by analyzing the five C’s which are coordination, communication, command, control and conflict.

Coordination should happen at every step of strategy making mainly in formulation and implementation between the different stakeholders, organisation levels, between cooperating enterprises etc. coordination is a two way interaction between any two strategists. Coordination can only happen through effective communication. Communication is the exchange of ideas, knowledge, thought etc by means of a transmission medium. It plays a key role in implementing strategy. Communication happens at all levels of the organisation.

Command is passed from a top level employee to lower levels, and is only issued under certain circumstances such as two resolve a conflict or crisis.
The decision makers have their own area of control and does not intervene other domains until they are invited or there is any crisis. Each and every strategy have outline accretions of control over it. Control is often exercised indirectly through motivated structures.

Conflicts are unavoidable in any type of organisations. Conflicts are vital aspects for creativity. Any new idea brought in strategy need to be discussed in forums and there would be some inevitable reasons to choose it. For every proposal of change invites conflicts. It represents a clash of viewpoints and result in the release of energy, which should be made use of to achieve the objectives of strategy.

Managers consider a number of issues such as organisational structure, reaction of the employees etc. before the implementation. Even though the need for change is well known it becomes difficult to adapt to the new systems as it takes time and patience. Implementation is the crucial stage of a strategic planning. Two important factors that hinder the strategic implementation are the failures of process and failures of substance. Factors of substance gives importance to the strategic planning elements such as analysing the mission and purpose of the organisation its core values and corporate culture, the organisaiton strengths and weakness and their opportunities and their threats. The factors of process include the poor ways of handling the strategic planning. One important failure factor is the lack of participation. When some of the employees lose their commitment then they would fall back from any form of planning and implementation of strategies that would help the organisation to achieve goal. Another process failure is the blogging down in details of planning such that the process itself comes to end. From the above study we are able to understand the different factors that a manager has to consider while crafting a strategy. According to Hendry Mintzberg (1987:661) “managers are the craftsmen and strategy is their clay”. This is very true the managers make good strategy for the success of the organisation, still some organisation fail miserably during strategic implementation. This is how we can say that manager are the craftsmen, because not all of them become successful by just formulating strategy, they should be aware of the environment, past business experience, how to make innovations etc.

Potential Reasons – Why Do Project Fail and How Project Managers Can Prevent?

The principle aim of this article is to identify and explore multiple dimensions of project failures during the entire life of project execution. Many projects fail, especially IT projects. The only way that companies can get better at performing projects is by learning from projects they have carried out. There are small things which can decide fate of project. These all in project management practice and research, has been to see it as a threat and as something that should, if possible, be neutralized, reduced and followed.

Introduction

In a perfect world every project would be “on time and within budget.” But reality (especially the proven statistics) tells a very different story. It’s not uncommon for projects to fail. Even if the budget and schedule are met, one must ask –

Question – “Did the project deliver the results and quality we expected?

Answer to this question could be different in different perspective. There is no single method or organizational structure that can be used to manage projects to success. Project failure can happen in any organization and to any project.

There are many reasons why projects (both simple and complex) fail; the number of reasons can be infinite and can fit into different phase of SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle), initiation through go live. Sometimes it’s out of the control of a project manager and/or the team members. Sometimes failure is controllable. Failed projects and people involved with the failure have some things in common. I have tried to draft few critical and most basic reasons based on my experience for project failure and may differ project to project.

From outside view, it could be that all reason will roll up to project manager’s responsibility and accountability however from my perspective it should be collective responsibility.

Here are the some of the common reasons why project fails – based on my experience.

1. Incompetent Project Manager

First possible cause of project failure is the project manager. A project manager who helps steer the project in a timely fashion and provides sound, inspiring leadership can go a long way toward bringing about a successful project. Reasons like “an incompetent project manager” “project manager unwilling to make decisions,” “project problems ignored”, “poor management by the project leader,” “loss of control by the project manager,” and “the failure of the project manager to delegate”, “working as only as coordinator” are most important reason given for project failure.

2. Less Involvement of Project Managers

This is always a topic of debate for project managers: Should they just focus on pure project management activities such as reporting, cost and issue tracking, or should they also dive into ground-level review and design? There is no correct answer. Even the biggest project depends on the success of the smallest components. Every detail contains a seed that can mean the difference between success and failure. On relatively inexperienced teams, project managers must be involved in the details for key activities. This will help them have better control of the effort as well as provide true status of the project to stakeholders.

3. Unavailability to Skilled Resources

Every project has some resource estimations before starting of the project and even every vendor submits key personnel details and profile as part of bidding process to acquire project. However picture is always opposite once project is awarded. Initial resource estimations and loading sheet handed over to project managers as part of sales hand over process but I have seen that project managers always struggle for right skilled resources hence it is necessary that leadership team should understand criticality and provide planned/skilled resources on time to avoid project delay or failure.

4. Lack of Proper Planning

Project managers should have clear projects outcomes visibility and should involve himself./herself right from sales hand over as this phase is critical for project success. If you don’t have a clear focus at the earliest stage of the process/project, you are making things harder on yourself. This would lead to inappropriate estimations and half cooked planning.

5. Lack of Management Support/Leadership Alignment

It is important to ensure that the senior management remains fully engaged throughout the project life cycle. The involvement e.g. through project update sessions imply that they are willing to take appropriate actions to address issues raised by the project team, mitigate the project risks, provide leadership, thus contributing to the project success.

6. Missing Communication

Communication plan plays very substantial role in project success or failure. Plan should contain stakeholder details I.e name, role, contact no. and email, project team details, escalation matrix and other dependent groups. Information distribution details (stakeholder, information detail, distribution methods, format and frequency) should be clearly defined in plan. To save your project from failure, project manager need to establish a clear communication channel.

Effective communication within any organization is important to keep all your team members on the same page, avoid confusions and keep them motivated. By communicating with your team, project managers can develop an environment of trust, proactively kill conflicts, which would bring the best out of your team and eventually lead to a successful delivery of the project.

7. Ignoring Change Management Process

Take a second before your project starts to undergo significant changes, or even before you look for a technology solution. It’s critical to define your change management process steps. A firm understanding of change management principles will serve as a strong backbone for any change management plan. Change is inevitable, irrespective of the size of your project. Whether good or bad, it must be managed well to ensure the project continues without disruption. Every project must have a change control process, and every change request, however small, must go through it. The change’s impact should be documented, approved and presented to key stakeholders so that everyone understands its effect on quality, cost and schedule. The focal point of any leader tasked with change must be to align their team with the vision. Communication is a crucial component in ensuring every team member is on the same page.

8. No Risk Management Process

Many projects fail because there is no risk management process as an integral part of the project management process. I am not surprised because I have been on many projects where the risk log is created at the start of the project and then quietly parked, never to be seen again. Then guess what – a perfectly predictable situation arises which no one knows how to react to.

It was in the risk log but no risk response was created so the predictable outcome is a less than optimal project. My own feeling based on my experience is that you ignore risk management in a project at your risk.

9. Inadequate Quality Assurance

Now this is where the technicality comes in. Software projects often fail when no quality assurance activities are planned and no systematic activities are performed to evaluate the quality of development process or ultimate deliverables. This is because managers often fail to project appropriate reviews tests or checkpoints where quality can be verified. Code review is part of this (as defined in #20).

10. Missing Project Management Tools/Framework

Successful projects are based on a methodology or framework that includes project management tools. Right approach can help project managers to stay on top of the project and by using some reliable management tools; project managers can enhance the team’s productivity, can increase accuracy and save time by automating activities like task tracking and managing dependencies.

A great number of unsuccessful project results from missing methodology and framework, which leads to inaccuracy and wasted time. There are numerous project management frameworks and methodologies (like Agile, Iterative) and they can support efficient delivery.

11. Company/Project Culture

Company or project culture should not be supported with political environment. It should support competency, skill, professionalism and transparency. If it isn’t, team members will not be motivated to do their best. Basically, everyone involved must be participated in their part of the project to successfully complete it. Any actions which project managers take to move project execution from the political arena into an objective and analytical one will improve the project’s success. This involves managing and retaining the most highly skilled and productive people. Knowledge is money. It is job of project managers to manage and motivate so that project efforts will experience a zone of optimal performance throughout its life.

12. Inappropriate Prioritization

While some work best on a small number of requirements, others are better suited to very complex projects with many decision-makers. But regardless of when it is done, before a requirement can be prioritized, project managers must consider why requirement is most important from a business standpoint and what would be the impact of this on overall system whether new requirement would add value to overall system or it will be overhead. Project managers should lead prioritization exercise along with all relevant stakeholders. There are a number of possible business considerations, including value, cost, risk, and improve customer experience, stakeholder agreement and urgency variables.

13. Inaccurate Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder Analysis is the first step and an important process that successful project managers use to win support from others. Managing stakeholders helps them to ensure that their projects succeed where others might fail. There are three steps to follow in Stakeholder Analysis. First, identify who your stakeholders are. Next, work out their power, influence and interest, so that you know who you should focus on. Finally, develop a good understanding of the most important stakeholders based on Power/Interest grid, so that you know how they are likely to respond, and how you can win their support which can lead project success.

14. Use of Unfamiliar Tools

Tools are definitely needed for project execution and success but unfamiliar tools may lead to chances of failure as well. Sometimes, it can cause many severe problems during project life cycle as the team has to deal with the learning curve of new tools along with usual project tasks and duties. Project managers should ensure that tools are not enforced on project team members, just to utilize for fulfillment of audit compliance unless tools adding some productivity and save some efforts.

15. Change – Always saying “Yes’ to the Customer

Many behaviors can cause a project to fail, but accepting whatever the client says is sure to spell project doom. Initially, a stakeholder might appreciate your flexibility – but that will be overshadowed later by the impact of possible schedule slippage and unmet objectives.. Change is a major cause of project failure. Project specifications can be changed for several reasons: initial planning was not complete or thorough; Senior-level management changed the scope of the work; the client (if not upper-level management) changed the scope of the work; this isn’t to say that you should always tell customers “no.” If you do that, they’ll feel their concerns are not being addressed. Before you commit to something, perform due diligence and analyze the pros and cons of your decision.

16. Bonding between Project Team Members

It is the prime responsibility of project managers to unite the team members to achieve a common goal. The stages a team generally goes through are: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. As a project manager, a good understanding of these stages would help in guiding a team from infancy to maturity which creates needed bonding.

Things can easily go from good to bad very quickly if there is no unity between your team members. Consider a scenario in which all team members are moving in different directions. Could you expect a positive result to come out of this situation? There could be many reasons from personality differences to conflicting interests. All of them contribute towards taking you one step closer to project failure.

17. Unrealistic Expectations

At the beginning of a project, it’s important to set realistic expectations for every member or stakeholders who are a part of the project. If the project kicks off without setting goals for individual team members, they are most likely to lose clarity and focus somewhere in the middle. Project managers must have one on one session with individual team members and help them understand their role in the project. If goals are set before the project is in full swing, the members would have a roadmap to follow that prevents them from derailing the project.

18. Talking Through Problems

Condensing bad news internally for long enough will only seed the explosion later on. It’s is fine to do for a limited period, but you will need to take some time to pull it out, examine it, feel it, and study it so you can find a way to re-channel it, or transmute it into another kind of energy. Quite often we face the dilemma of whether or not to deliver bad news to stakeholders. And too often we forget this truth: Clients have a vested interest in the success of the project. They have every right to know any development impacting the outcome of the initiative. You will end up having this heavy thing on your chest that will never move. You will never understand what it is about. The problem is that we believe that sharing problems will make us weak, and that stakeholders will start to judge us for our short-comings. Maybe they do. But stakeholders having higher interest who genuinely care about project and you very well know these people, will come out and help. Sharing helps you feel less burdened, because you now have less things on your mind. This will also allow you more space to put new thoughts, planning things better.

19. Guesstimates – Efforts

A “guess estimate,” also referred to as a “gut feel,” is based on personal intuition and past experience. But even the most strongly held conviction could be faulty. An inaccurate estimate can leave a project team slogging day and night to meet a deadline. The project might finally be delivered on time-but with a huge effort overrun. If time is pressing, use Function Point technique, Function Points are units of measure for functional size as defined within the IFPUG Functional Size Measurement (FSM) Method and it is the major global functional sizing methodology. Project Manager is responsible for accurate and re-estimation post sales hand over. If efforts guesstimated or not correctly estimated with appropriate tool then it definitely impacts one of all three critical project parameters- Cost, Scope, schedule.

20. Avoiding Code Reviews

Assuming that testing will catch bugs or that defects are fixed faster when you know where code is breaking. You’ll only end up increasing the risk of schedule slippage as the inflow of defects rises during testing and the turnaround time for code fixes increases. Code review helps produce a stable, quality deliverable. Its focus is not only to catch code defects but also to look at critical dimensions that may not get caught during testing, such as code optimization and requirement coverage.

21. Skipping Prototyping

Defects can result from a misunderstanding of requirements and a misinterpretation of stated requirements. Even if requirements are well-documented, they must be validated for correct understanding. Only by a visual walkthrough can users spot the differences in what they expect and what’s being built. Feedback must be planned at various stages throughout a project to reduce risks. These feedback loops will help you spot gaps early and provide enough time for correction. A sketch, wireframe, mockup, and prototype are all unique ways to visually display the requirements of your project with varying levels of detail. Understanding that level of polished output each of these present will keep expectations aligned and communication clear between all the stakeholders.

Conclusion

There could be many different, seemingly independent causes of project failure. However, it becomes clear that many of these causes are actually linked to project managers (which may differ project to project) and their way of execution. Past failure should not discourage project managers from future efforts. Past examples of IT project failures gives us the opportunity to point to the relevant lessons that can be derived from recognizing areas where IT projects is more likely to fail.

Changing the project’s scope not only affects cost, but it also affects schedules and resource allocation. One way to overcome to all causes is that the various stakeholders and project team of the project should be included in a very thorough planning process, thereby maximizing the input from the various vested interests and broadening the understanding of the project manager and team members resulting in success rather than failure. An improvement in success rate of IT projects is possible by putting significantly more focus on general-management activities. With accurate planning, defined goals, clear assignments and effective communication, proactive managers can overcome those odds to master, even the most challenging project and also required support of leadership team which can help project managers to complete more projects on time, within the allocated budget and with expected benefits/outcomes.

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Great Social Media Manager

A great social media manager is, as Ron Burgundy would say: “The balls“.

It’s an undisputed fact that every business needs to be active in social media. The ever-changing demands of the modern day consumer requires brands to think fast and adapt quickly in order to stay one step ahead.

The role of a social media manager has appealed to the mass generation of socially-active internet users. It’s hard not to. Especially when some might think that you can earn big bucks from posting Facebook updates. Hardly.

Being a social media manager is kind of like being a stand-up comedian. You have to quickly understand your audience and your engagement with them is vital. In order to accomplish this, you need to know if the audience is laughing at your jokes and you need to know this in real-time. If you can do this, then you have already won the crowd.

So, how do you become a social manager? More to the point, how do you become a great social manager?

The answer will be surprising to some. Firstly, you have to want it. Second, you have to love it. Third, you have to learn it. And even if you tick all these boxes, you should ask yourself: “Am I a social person?” If the answer is no, then becoming a social media manager is probably not for you…

So let’s take a look at the stats.

  • LinkedIn shows 57,910 results for “social media manager”
  • Social media has now overtaken porn as the number 1 activity on the web
  • 97% of all consumers search for local businesses online
  • 71% of consumers receiving a quick brand response on social media say they would likely recommend that brand to others
  • 93% of marketers use social media for business
  • In terms of difficulty of execution, nearly half (49%) of B2B marketers put social media marketing at the top, followed by content marketing (39%), SEO (26%) and mobile (25%)
  • 77% of B2B marketers use a blog as part of their content marketing mix
  • On average, 25% of marketing budgets are now spent on content development, delivery and promotion
  • 78% of small businesses attract new customers through social sites
  • When asked to rank their company’s social business maturity on a scale of 1 to 10, more than half of global business executives gave their company a score of 3 or below

But the statistic that is most relevant to this article is:

  • Just 12% of those using social marketing feel they actually use it effectively.

Being a social media manager brings with it some key benefits within a freelance setting. The most recognisable being the fact that you are your own boss. You make the decisions and answer to no one. You send the invoices and you set the policies. Heck, you could sit in your underpants all day on the computer if you wanted to.

The other is money. It is an in-demand role, but one that companies are still struggling to come to terms with. Some companies realise and understand the value social media could bring to their enterprise and are willing to invest heavily in robust social media campaigns. Being your own boss, you can decide how to set your costs and price accordingly.

Another attractive reason is the low barriers to entry. With low start-up costs and plenty of online resources (like this one!) to rapidly decrease the learning cure, anyone can launch a freelance social management business within a short space of time.

I’ll tell you my story shortly but first, let’s explore the essential skills you’ll need to become a great social media manager..

Fundamental Skills:

Marketing Knowledge

You should have a good grasp of the basic marketing principles. Some education in marketing would be beneficial, but otherwise you can find many quality resources online.

Experience

Your experience doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to life experiences. Have you managed your own social media profiles for a while? Do you know how to effectively maintain your own social accounts and understand what clients expect?

Sociable

I touched on this at the beginning of the article. If you are not a sociable person – someone who doesn’t like communicating much and isn’t very outgoing, then becoming a social media manager just isn’t for you. Sure, you can hide behind a keyword and monitor for a while, but clients will usually want to meet, speak on the phone, or have Skype sessions at some point.

Project Management

You don’t have to have a Prince2 certificate, but you do need to be able to manage projects and your time well. It’s typical for social media manager’s to work with multiple clients at any one time. Keeping tabs on everything is important so that it doesn’t get overwhelming.

Technological

Social media exists online. Therefore, you need to have a certain degree of computer literacy. Having good knowledge of social technology will enhance your services and ensure you are keeping up to date with the latest social trends and developments.

Interpersonal Skills:

Communication

It kind of goes without saying that if you’re going to be representing a company and engaging with their customers, then you will need to have strong communication skills.

Personality

Companies tend not to want to hire people with no personality to act on behalf of their brand. It doesn’t resonate well with them, or their audiences.

Responsiveness

I’ve touched on this a few times – social media is very fast-paced. Imagine if one of your social assignments was largely focused on customer service and you didn’t respond to customer complaints or queries for weeks. People online want rapid responses. Being able to fulfil these needs can stand your client (and you!) in good stead.

Entrepreneurial

To become a social media manager in a freelance capacity, you have to be a self-starter. You should be willing to go the extra mile and take a few financial risks along the way. If you don’t land a job that pays enough in one month, how will this affect you?

Multitasking

A great social media manager must be able to effectively carry out a wide range of tasks.

Organisation

You should always be very well organised when delivering social media management services. I use all kinds of traditional tools like calendars, white boards and task lists to keep myself organised. I also use many online organisational tools, such as: Thunderbird for accessing all my email accounts in one place, Dropbox to easily share documents with clients and bookmarks to keep track of all the websites I frequently visit.

Strategic Thinking

Being able to think campaigns through before they happen and sometimes thinking outside the box when needed, are great asset to have as a social media manager. Clients tend to want to know how you will do something before letting you do it, so being able to present a clear and concise strategy is essential.

Flexible (with travel)

Contrary to popular belief, a freelance social media manager has to leave his office sometimes! If this is a problem for you, then you should think about starting another profession. Nearly every sizeable project I undertake involves multiple meetings with the client. You should have reasonable pitching skills, as you may be required to sell your services face to face too, before being hired. You may even opt to take on in-house work.

Wider Skills:

Copywriting

Every good social media manager is a great writer. Writing forms the foundations of many aspects of online marketing, be it creating ads, writing blogs, engaging with customers, scripting sales copy or writing press releases.

Graphic Design

Pretty much all social media platforms provide the functionality to customise the interface and incorporate your own branding. If you are sharp with Photoshop (or similar design software), then you are in a good position to offer these services as part of your social media package. Similarly, creating content such as infographics, banners or images is standard practise for a social media manager.

Advertising

Every social media manager should have sound knowledge of advertising. Be it Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising or banner advertising, you should know the ins and outs of each discipline and understand how to optimise each format.

PR

Public relations is closely tied to social media marketing, in the sense that both involve managing the spread of information between a business and the public. You may start out not needing to have a deep knowledge of PR, as it is typically managed by larger brands who have an interest in persuading stakeholders, investors or the public to maintain a certain point of view.

Statistical

Everything in marketing should be measured. You should periodically measure and analyse your social marketing performance and produce reports to your clients to demonstrate your value.

SEO

Understanding how social media affects search engine optimisation will ultimately improve campaign performance. In 2012, there was an average of 5,134,000,000 searches on Google every day. If you think SEO doesn’t matter to your social activities, think again.

Traditional Marketing

Even though you generally won’t be involved in traditional marketing practises while undertaking a social media management role, you should understand how both forms of marketing affect each other and how each can be best leveraged to complement the other.

Video Editing

This will probably be the least used of your wider skills, but nevertheless it can assist you in your social marketing positions. I’ve had a few clients that required presentations or demonstration videos to be edited before being used within their social media campaigns. I’m for sure no expert, but having a reasonable level of knowledge in using Windows Movie Maker (or similar video editing software) can turn that video file straight from the camera into a beautiful, YouTube-ready video.

Even if you possess all the necessary skills to become a social media manager, there is still scope to improve your services by using different social tools and software. I’ll quickly recap on two different pieces of software I use that may help you in becoming a great social media manager:

  • Hootsuite: I wrote an in-depth review of Hootsuite on my blog that also includes a video tutorial which should provide all the information you will need to know about Hootsuite.
  • BuzzBundle: This is my favourite and most valued piece of software I’ve ever used. I use it mainly to find keywords around my content subject from across a huge range of blogs, forums and social sites and stream all this information back to me in one interface. I can then see who is discussing my topic and jump straight into the conversations to add my two cents.

What You’ll Be Expected To Do…

So, what does a social media manager actually do? As you can probably tell by now, the role of a social media manager is diverse. It’s not a case of “Well, I post updates to Facebook.” Here are a few general activities that social media managers will be expected to execute:

Strategy

You will be required to formulate campaign and platform specific strategies that meet the business objectives. You will create actions plans, content calendars, set metrics and KPIs, undertake various research activities and perform different types of analysis.

Content Creation

Content creates the foundations of any marketing campaign. How you decide to execute your campaigns will depend on the different forms of content you produce. As you would have no doubt already heard from someone, content is king. Believe them.

Community Management

Managing accounts also means managing communities. You should be the go-to person when representing brands in social domains and continually reach out and engage with your audiences. You will need to constantly strengthen social relationships in order to develop long-lasting followers.

Audience Building

Marketing to the same people over and over will not widen your scope and social reach. You should be increasing readership and your level of influence within your target audiences.

Customer Service

Many companies use social media as an instant channel for customer service. You will have to be responsive and helpful in your social activities, regularly being the first point of contact. You will be representing the brand and managing their customer perceptions.

Measurement

Every effort that consumes investment will need to be measured and analysed. I’vve previously written tutorials that demonstrate how you can set up your Google Analytics account on my blog.

Reporting

Once your efforts have been measured and analysed, your clients will want to understand how their investment has performed. This can take the form of visual aids for meetings or digital reports. Reporting is a key ingredient of any social media manager in order to prove your worth and demonstrate the value you have added to the business.

How I Became A Social Media Manager

I’ve been active in social media since July 2007. This was before the time of all the latest social marketing tools and software that nowadays are ingrained into all social marketers everyday life. Resources or tutorials weren’t as widely available that could help speed up the learning curve.

I did find an online course that looked pretty good in teaching me how to turn my social skills that I had been practising on my own accounts into a fully fledged business. I invested £600 on this online course to learn the basics and now that some years have passed, I can look back and say the value wasn’t all that great, but the ideas were there. It pushed me to think outside the box and motivated me to start my trajectory towards becoming a social media manager.

So before I had decided to turn my love for social media and networking into a freelance opportunity, I attended Brunel University where I completed my BSc and MSc in Business Management. It was at this time when I jumped on board with the poker boom and started playing online cash games and tournaments. Poker really helped me to develop my own time management, money management and analysis skills. I always knew I wanted to start my own business so this was a good platform to get my feet wet. Throughout my time playing poker, I was always engaged in online social discussions and even wrote a few guest posts for poker sites.

Before I knew it, I was a fully-fledged freelance social media manager…

So to kick-start my freelance social media work, I joined a bunch of freelance sites like Elance, oDesk and Freelancer. I still use some of them today.

After a few years of freelancing on small one-off projects and developing my social marketing acumen, I was hired by an online business services company to run their social media campaigns, as well as handle all their own clients social marketing campaigns. I still work with them today, which just shows the power of forging good working relationships.

I managed to attract clients in most months for the next few years and each project ended up being pretty diverse from the next. This allowed me to develop wider skills that I have since found almost a necessity in order to provide a well-rounded social media marketing service. I mentioned some of these wider skills required to become a great social media manager towards the middle of this article.

I also kept maintaining and building my own social media profiles. It’s important to practise what you preach and showcase your expertise on your own domains. My social profiles have regularly attracted clients, which keeps work coming in and builds up my networking potential.

I have been writing on my blog for a few years, but only recently updated my site. My own social activities also serve to build traffic to my sites, where I generate passive income. I like to “listen” to the social environment and engage with people who are already looking for my content. This serves well in building and strengthening connections, as well as attracting targeted traffic.

I have also been a keen guest blogger. I believe that writing articles for other relevant blogs only serves to increase your scope and exposure. Once or twice, I have had my articles featured by online magazines and publications, which was always nice.

Keeping my ears to the ground and getting myself ‘out there’ was one of the things I promised myself I would do, even though I knew the vast majority of my time would be spent in my home office. I tried to regularly meet up with business connections and clients to make sure they could match an online persona to a real life face. The vast majority of the time, I even managed to remember my business cards!

A strategy I’ve always tried to employ while freelancing is to try and turn one client into three. What I mean by that is word of mouth is the most powerful advertising there is. People do act on solid recommendations that their friends make. I found that taking as basic an approach as asking clients at the end of projects if they knew anyone who could benefit from social media marketing, worked out surprisingly well.

As social media is such a dynamic environment with start-ups booming and busting every few months, I knew that it was essential to keep up to date with social developments. Every so often, a client would ask me to set up profiles or campaigns on sites that some social media managers would have never heard of. Keeping tuned in enabled me to have at least some knowledge and experience in using these platforms, which dramatically lowered my learning curve and ultimately lead to better performing campaigns.

Around a year and a half ago, I decided to broaden by service offerings and set up a web design company with my business partner. “Thinking Forwards” was born in the summer of 2012. Websites and social media go hand-in-hand, so this enabled me to up-sell my services both ways.

So that brings me loosely to where I am now. Just to be clear; I have never used paid advertising or SEO for my own benefit while being a social media manager. My progression came solely through content marketing and guerrilla marketing tactics.

To Summarise On How I Became A Social Media Manager:

  • Joined freelance sites
  • Practised what I preached and actively maintained my own social media profiles and blogs
  • Kept consistently networking and building my contact lists
  • Continually created my own content on my own sites
  • Took my content straight to prospects
  • Proactively kept asking if people needed my assistance
  • Guest blogging and featured articles
  • Attended networking events and met up with clients and business contacts
  • Tried to turn one client into three
  • Kept up to date with new social networks and developments
  • Started other initiatives where social media services were complementary
  • Never turned down any work or networking opportunities
  • Worked long hours, sometimes for small rewards, to build reputation, authority and presence

I thought I would leave you with some final advice from things I have learnt from my own experiences being a social media manager.

Remember that…

  • Sometimes you won’t be right for a project, even if you think you are
  • It’s OK to work for less than your desired amount, if the benefits warrant it
  • You won’t win every contract, so don’t beat yourself up if you get turned down
  • Things change really quickly in social media, so you will have to continually adapt
  • You never know as much as you think you do!

Starting a career in anything takes time and effort. If you think it’s easy to become a great social media manager, then think again…

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

Taking a Stand for the Manager – Underdog of 2012?

The role of manager is a multi-talented one!

I have read so many negative reports about managers over the last few months that I felt I had to stand up and hurl in a different perspective. In the past few months, I’ve read quotes such as:

  • “three quarters of employers report a lack of leadership and management skills and too many managers have an inflated opinion of their ability to manage people”
  • “More than six out of ten people employed in customer facing sales and service roles say that their managers’ behaviour towards them [Negatively] affects the level of customer service they deliver.”
  • “Poor people management is at the root of much of the evil in our economy”
  • “Estimated cost of poor management in the UK is £19 Billion a year!”

What on earth is going on? If I were still a manager I think I’d be feeling pretty battered by now. So OK, we have a problem Houston. But what is the real problem?

For me, problem number one, is that although we all know the difference between leadership and management (Don’t we?) We employ managers and complain they don’t lead and then we define leadership with models which talk about competencies such as leading from the front, vision and courage and integrity… to name but a few. Attributes most managers can’t actually use because they have to deliver an already created and articulated vision, where the trail has already been blazed, and the values already decided.

We want managers to be people managers, but actually none of our outcomes or targets or values is about our people, so where do we expect them to focus? Ok, so I’m stretching a point, or two, but I do think that those points illustrate that at times, just sometimes, managers can’t win.

I’m not going to get into the leadership debate in this article; I’ll save that for another day. Today, I am going to concentrate on the sometimes thankless task of being a manager and why I think our good managers need a big and hearty pat on the back.

And just a final observation about the bad press managers get. With all the “poor” managers out there, I just have three questions. Who is recruiting them? Who is managing them? And who is letting poor managers get away with it to the extent that they have such a “negative” impact? Well, someone is!

There was an advert a few years ago that featured a mother wearing different hats. When her little girl cut her knee, she had the nurse cap on. When she was helping her son with his homework, she donned the mortarboard, and finally when cooking dinner she wore her chef’s hat. (I know, I’m probably showing my age) Well for me, managers are like mothers, to the extent that they have many roles and have to wear many hats.

In most organisations, managers are multi-faceted. They have to manage their people, their budget, their results locally and globally, the environment they work in, change management, training needs, absence, performance, initiatives, projects, the business plan, the people plan, stakeholders, partners, customers, reward, reviews, income, communications, processes, media, social responsibility, diversity… oh and of course the work. Need I go on?

I know that there are some great qualifications for managers and also managers pay is probably not too bad. But what I do think is that managers are not given the actual credit for the demanding, time-consuming, multi-talented role they have to play in an organisations’ success. It may have simply slipped my attention, but I have honestly never heard an organisation come out and say things like “we owe our success to our multi-talented managers” Or “the real backbone of the organisation is held together by our highly skilled managers” High profile leaders tend to get the credit for great successes.

So how do we go about changing the image of our managers, and giving those good ones the credit that they are due? Well here are my thoughts:

  1. Be clear about the limit of the leadership role the manager. If a manager is an executor of an organisational vision, then specify that they have to have a team vision, which derives from the main vision. They don’t have to be able to change the world.
  2. At recruitment stage, be clear about why you need the manager. If their prime focus is people management, then make sure they have people management skills. If you want a people manager and the successful candidate has written a great thesis on your range of products and the best way to sell them, then you are on the wrong tack.
  3. Develop potential within the organisation, with brilliant role models and clear demonstrations of the skills, behaviours and standards expected.
  4. If your organisation only has aims and targets based on product or service, then that’s where your managers will place their attention. If you want them to manage your people, then set targets about your people.
  5. Make sure your managers are clear about the expectations of them. More importantly be clear you know what you expect of them. If you shift the goalposts, involve them in the decision.
  6. If you employ specialists or professionals, value your managers as much as, if not more than your specialist or professional contribution. (Yes really)
  7. Give your manager’s credit for the difficult and dedicated job they do. Their jobs are highly skilled professional roles, and you should acknowledge that.

In life there are people who work well and people who don’t do so well, and this is reflected at all roles in an organisation, there are poor CEO’s, all the way down the hierarchal chain to poor Administrators; as well as poor managers.

I believe that the reason for the focus on under-performing managers is because they are such a pivotal and impactful force in an organisation. So let’s raise the standards of our managers and have better businesses, but also give credit when managers are doing a great job and value them.

I hope you enjoyed my small but heartfelt accolade to the manager. What do you think? Do you agree? Why do you think managers are getting such a poor press? I’d love to have your views.

The Effective HR Manager

Winning the respect, trust and confidence of line managers and making a difference

Ask many line managers what they think of HR managers and you will get a variety of views from the positive to the most damning.

Examples are:

“Excellent. Very professional.”

“Very responsive, supportive and helpful”

“Great if I can ever get hold of them”

“Talk their own language. Not really in touch with the needs of the business. A bit flakey”

“You mean the dead hand of HR!”

As the issue of effective HR management has grown in importance over the years so has the need for HR managers to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of their developing organisations.

Clearly it’s important that an organisation’s employees are paid on time, they are able to access the benefits they are entitled to and can receive straightforward help and advice from HR when needed.

This operational piece of the HR management responsibility needs to be reliable and responsive in every respect. Getting the basics right is all important.

So is partnering with line managers in recruitment activities, performance management processes, training and personal development provision. These are all very necessary, core elements of the HR function’s role. Organisation’s have every right to expect that HR managers will be proficient in these areas.

But what about gaining the respect, trust and confidence of line managers, over and above these basics? How can HR managers really add value? Here are eight tips.

Vision

HR managers need to clearly understand the organisation’s vision and challenge the CEO if it is not clear. They need to create an aligned vision for HR to support the corporate vision.

They need to draft a vision, share it with selected line managers, check it, refine it and communicate it both to the HR team and line managers. They need to be clear on HR’s vision for future success, and clear on how it is aligned to the organisation’s overall vision.

Objectives

HR managers must be clear on their organisation’s objectives. They need to put clear, measurable objectives and milestones to the HR vision. They need to make their objectives concrete, tangible and deliverable with time frames attached.

They need to announce them and ‘stick’ to them. They need to communicate their success in achieving them. They need to be seen as “business like”.

Strategy

HR managers need to understand their organisation’s strategy. They need to be clear on their HR strategy to deliver their objectives. How will HR be positioned within the organisation as a whole? How will it work alongside the business to deliver the strategy of the business? How will it marry the day to day needs of the business with the longer term development needs?

How will it operate with closer external specialists and suppliers? What short, medium and long term plans does it have to really add value to the business?

What changes will need to be made to deliver the strategy?

HR managers need to answer these questions, share their strategy and plans with the business and their standing will automatically be enhanced!

Resources

HR is in the business of attracting, acquiring and developing the RIGHT people. HR managers will need to assess the quality of the organisation’s existing people and compare their current capabilities to the capabilities required by the organisation in the future. That’s why they need to understand the organisation’s vision, objectives and strategy so well.

They need to compare the current competency framework to a desired competency framework, say three years from now. What will be different in the requirement of the organisation’s people? How will this impact the type of people the organisation will need, where in the business, and when?

HR managers need to create a strategic HR development plan to deliver the right people resources to the organisation to meet both its current and future needs. The use of performance management, personal development and capability management systems will help them to do this accurately. They must get transparency of the organisation’s human resources to plan effectively.

Structure

HR managers need to structure the HR function in the most appropriate way.

They should centralise those activities which are core to the whole business. This will include policy development, recruitment, compensation and benefits, performance management, personal development and disciplinary processes. Many of these are governed by legislation and need to be corporate wide, although there may have to be regional or county variations.

HR business managers should be allocated to lines of business to work closely alongside line managers to create and deliver specific interventions to meet their ongoing needs. These people need to be seen as true business partners adding specialist knowledge and skills to line managers. In a sense they are internal consultants clearly understanding the business as well as best practice in HR management and development in the market place.

Systems

HR managers should employ “fit for purpose” systems for both HR management and HR development. This does not mean the most sophisticated, costly and “heavy weight” systems. They should choose systems that can be easily integrated with one another, are customisable and require little management time.

Systems need to be user friendly as the trend is for managers to use them to ‘self-serve’ more and more these days.

Systems should work together holistically enabling the organisation to obtain transparency of its entire human resource, to enable it to adopt the best people acquisition, retention and development process.

Knowledge and Skills

HR managers need to ensure that they and their team members really understand the business they work for, including its:

– Market-place

– Customers

– Products/ services

– Routes to market

– Competition

– Major commercial challenges

– Threats, e.g. legal constraints

– Vision, strategy and objectives

– Plans for the future – short, medium and long term

– Culture and values

– Leadership and management style beliefs

Many HR managers fall down because they lack essential knowledge of the business and fail to use the language and terminologies which clearly show that they understand the core business and how it works.

They should avoid “HR speak” which really turns off line managers. This may be helpful shorthand to HR professionals but it is an anathema for line managers and their staff. HR managers should focus on the objective, tangible, concrete, business related issues not just the softer, behavioural and more subjective issues.

They should gain respect for their knowledge of HR issues as well as the tangible issues faced by the business. After all, human resources are just one element of tackling these issues. When handling people related problems HR managers should go back to the vision, objectives and strategy of the business before embarking on solutions.

HR managers should expand their knowledge to include strategic thinking, change management, business planning and organisation development. Oh and finally HR managers and their teams need to become very IT savvy! They are usually not!

Leadership and Management

The HR manager’s role is to challenge where necessary the behaviours exhibited by managers, who clearly do not ‘walk the talk’. They are to a large extent guardians of the culture and values and need to be seen to be adopting this role.

HR managers should ‘educate’ senior line managers on modern management thinking, helping them to move away from a command and control approach to a more collaborative, consensual working style which truly engages and motivates employees at all levels to give of their best.

The job of today’s managers is to recognise and release talent at all levels not to overlook it or squash it. Performance management systems, personal development programs and reward systems all need to focus on the behaviors and competence required of managers to imbed the corporate values and culture into the organisation. It is the job of the HR manager to ensure that this happens.

So how well have you developed your skills in these eight areas of expertise as an HR manager? Check out how well you are currently doing by using the list below. Tick the box on the left of the statements only if it is TRUE of you.

Start each statement with the words “I..

Top of Form

Have a vision, clearly communicated and accepted, for the role of the HR which is aligned to the corporate vision.

Have short term (up to one year), medium term (two to three years) and longer term (over three years) objectives for the HR function.

Have a thought through written strategy and plan to deliver my objectives.

Am able to assess accurately the organisation’s current HR needs and its future needs, aligning its corporate development plan to strategic HR reviews.

Have a structure for my HR team which enables it to play a centralised and decentralised role in the business, catering for its daily operational needs, and its future development needs.

Have in place HR management and development systems that are fit for purpose, reliable and user friendly.

Am investing in my own and my team’s knowledge and skills in specific areas of HR and wider business related areas.

Challenge the behaviours of managers at all levels of the organisation to live out the corporate values, and my performance management and reward systems reinforce the need to walk the talk.

Am seen as a respected, knowledgeable professional in whom people can put their trust because they have confidence in me.

Continually invest in my own and my team’s personal growth and development.

Total Score:
Bottom of Form

How did you score?

8-10 – Excellent to very good. You have a few gaps to fill.

5 to 8 – Very good to fair. You have quite a few gaps to fill.

0 to 5 – Not so good. If you believe in the points made in this article you have some way to go!

You could say that these are the basics. Getting them right will in itself enhance the HR manager’s standing and reputation. However there are also issues to consider.

These include:

– Being emotionally intelligent

– Being ‘politically’ savvy

– Exercising critical judgement

– Influencing without authority

– Being a catalyst for change

– Having personal credibility

– Being culturally aware

– Conflict resolution skills

– Team building skills

– Managing upwards and managing peers

Plus a host of other soft skills!

Organise Conferences With Ease Using Event Management Software

Organising a conference can be a daunting and time consuming exercise. Whether it’s a small one day event for 20 delegates or a huge three day event in Earls Court, the general process and common problems are the same.

So what are the stages of planning a conference?

  1. Booking a venue
  2. Sending invites to a targeted list of prospect delegates
  3. Organising and booking all the resources, such as catering, collateral printing, promotional items, A&V etc
  4. Dealing with presenters and guest speakers
  5. Taking registrations
  6. Taking payment
  7. Sending reminder emails to delegates
  8. Printing badges
  9. Organising staff on the day
  10. Managing the budget throughout

This is an extremely basic and simplified list to indicate the general check list event managers must consider. This process can start from 6 months before an event or even as long as 12-18 months before for really large, national events. Managing all these steps can be extremely complicated and it can be very easy for event managers to make major mistakes.

To avoid costly errors, and to ensure conferences are organised in an efficient manner, many event professionals are looking to employ the use of an event management software solution. These solutions have the tools and capabilities to manage and track activities throughout the whole of the event and conference planning process, as well as the activities carried out as part of the event follow up (such as post event surveys and the creation of reports for intelligent analysis).

Taking the above steps in planning an event, here is how an event software solution can help:

1. Booking a venue

Control to an event manager is key; whether it’s a meeting/conference room in your own office or a larger external venue, event software can help by ensuring the allocation has been made and that payment has been taken. For more complex conferences which require multiple rooms across multiple days, event solutions include a comprehensive planning, resource and scheduling venue software tool. A highly configurable and fully customisable function sheet and a multiple calendar feature which will give you the ability to manage your resources and venue from one central and flexible application. This helps to simplify the normally complex process of booking and managing the venue.

2. Sending invites to a targeted list of prospects

The event manager may know the exact number and names of the delegates they are targeting or in some cases they might have been told to invite a certain demographic (based on relationship, job title, location etc). Managing the selection of delegates to invite is made easy with event software, since it is able to be integrated their CRM package. Meaning that all corporate records and data can be accessed easily and records automatically updated, so others looking at that record will know that the contact have been invited and whether or not they have registered and paid.

Event software also comes with sophisticated email marketing tools. Event managers are able to easily build and filter a selection of targeted delegates from their CRM and put these into a custom-made, HTML email which can be sent out. From the event management software platform, event managers will be able to track opens, clicks and other recipient activity.

3. Resource management

Event software will come with a Resource Management Module which is where event managers can track and control all the resources needed to manage an event. External suppliers can be given access to this module so that they can keep track themselves, rather than dealing with the event manager directly. For example, caterers can be given access so they can easily see current, up-to-date information on delegate numbers and any specific dietary requirements. Giving them direct access to this module in the event software means that event managers can deal with one less person and one less phonecall! Mistakes are also reduced since a layer of communication has been removed.

Resource modules also contain multiple and powerful calendars enabling conference managers to manage numerous resources on these various calendars; this is all accessible from one central location ensuring all updates/amendments/additions are recorded in real time. From the information collated through this Resource Module, event mangers can run bespoke reports providing details such as the number of pods available, number of brochures etc. Event managers will no longer have to juggle multiple spreadsheets across multiple calendars which will ensure fewer errors.

4. Dealing with presenters and guest speakers

Event software can also manage this process. Emails can be scheduled automatically to remind guest speakers about the event and to request certain information such as a bio for the marketing collateral and presentation slides for delegates. Speakers can also be given direct access to the Resource Management Module, where they can manage and update their own profile, and upload materials and other items. Again, this takes away the involvement of the event manager, freeing them up to work on more strategic activities.

5. Taking registrations

A convenient way to take registrations is online. This suits both delegates and event managers. It is a fast, effective method and is increasingly becoming the standard method of event registration. But there are good and bad ways of taking registrations online. Ideally event managers should want to direct prospect delegates to their own website, where a specially created page, with the branding of the company and the event have been included. Taking registrations on your own website plays an important part in increasing delegate sign up rates – delegates will be more trusting and more likely to sign up if it’s on the same site, whereas taking them to an external site may cause trust issues. It’s also important to be able to amend the information requested at the point of registration. Some events will just require a name, telephone number and email address, whereas others may require more detailed information. Event software can easily handle these changes.

6. Taking payment

Having a registration and payment process that is easy, straightforward and efficient is vitally important if event managers want to ensure a high level of delegate attendance. Event software gives event managers the ability to take payments online, via a secure web portal – giving delegates an easy, trustworthy method of payment. Since the event management software can be integrated with the back end finance application, payment can be easily accepted, records updated and receipts sent out automatically, without any intervention from the event manager or accounts payable staff. If payment isn’t taken online, the event software can automatically sent out invoices to the delegate. For an even smoother payment transaction event solutions will include connectors allowing seamless integration with your internal finance system.

7. Sending reminders to delegates

The email marketing tool included in the event software can have emails created which can scheduled to automatically be sent to all delegates. These can be reminder emails, or emails with updates or event amendments. They can be created in advance and then forgotten about as the event software will manage the rest.

8. Printing badges

The production of delegate name badges is a small part of hosting a conference, but is one that can be extremely time consuming for event managers and can cause real issues on the day of the conference if any mistakes have been made. Event software packages will come with easy to use, effective badge production tools. Not only will the creation of custom badges be easier, but the section of delegate names will be done automatically since the event software will be integrated with the CRM – so it’ll know exactly what names and details to print.

9. Organising staff on the day

The effective Resource Management Module enables all staff to be accurately managed – it will be easy for event managers to delegate activities to individuals and log it in this Resource Module. Staff can access this module anytime and from any location (via the Internet) so they will always be aware of what their responsibilities are and where they need to be.

10. Managing the budget throughout

Event software is an excellent tool for managing finances and budget. All costs can be taken via the integration with the finance system. These can then be easily tracked and monitored, with alerts to warn the event manager if there are any issues or if costs are rising fast. Reports can be instantly created, with a click of a button – useful for event update meetings and if event managers need to compile any statistics for senior management.

So we can see how event software can revolutionise the stages of planning a conference. Without event management software, a lot of these tasks would be manually created, tracked and organised via huge spreadsheets. There would be high chances of errors and mistakes and the whole process would be time consuming, stressful and ineffective for the conference manager and those associated with the event.

How To Grow A Self Managing Team

Growing a Self-Managing Team requires a unique set of skills not normally possessed by conventional team leaders. So what does it take to grow a Self-Managing Team?

Self-Managing Teams require considerable expertise from their leaders.

Six areas of capability are required:

• Belief and Commitment
• Continuous Improvement
• Team Empowerment
• Commercial Awareness
• Team Motivation
• Growth and Development

I shall examine each in turn below.

Beliefs and Commitment

Those that grow self-managing teams are almost ‘evangelical’ in their beliefs of the benefits of self-managing teams and their commitment to these beliefs. Why? The reason is that they have worked with the conventional ‘hands-on’ style of management and seen that it simply does not produce the best results. They have seen the blockages that this style of management creates for the organisation amongst which are:

– Managers operating too much in the day to day detail as ‘super technicians’.

– Insecure managers who won’t let go of control over everything their teams do.

– Managers failing to grow themselves into bigger thinkers who can make a difference to the business.

– Managers failing to engage all the talents of the organisation’s people to continuously improve results.

– Managers failing to grow their people to realise their potential and thus achieve the organisation’s potential.

– Managers standing in the way of change.

Realising the risks of conventional approaches to the management of people those that grow self-managed teams have become convinced that there must be a better way.

A way in which:

– The full potential of team members is released.

– Freedom to act replaces frustration with management control.

– Teams are equipped to make decisions and solve problems at their level to be more accountable, and visible for the achievement of results (with resultant increase in their job satisfaction and personal motivation).

– Personal growth and development is an everyday reality.

– Insecure managers obsessed with transactional leadership are replaced with transformational managers committed to step change.

– Managers are forced to grow out of their jobs to take on more responsibility giving room for others to move up.

Because of the difference they see in this way of working they will never go back. The personal rewards and the rewards of seeing others grow are too great. That is why their beliefs and commitment to self-managing teams is so strong.

Those strong in this area of growing self-managing teams have taken onboard these truths for themselves and their way of operating reflects these core beliefs.

Those weaker in this area are either unwilling to be persuaded or worse still are holding onto a paradigm of the role of management that will eventually end in heartache for them and their people.

Continuous Improvement

At the very heart of the thinking behind Self-Managing Teams is the concept of continuous improvement. This includes:

• Business Process Improvement

• Product/Service Improvement

• Customer Satisfaction Improvement

• Financial Improvement

• People Improvement

Those that grow self-managing teams see the connection between all five and seek to facilitate the efforts of their teams towards achievement of all five, simultaneously. They are therefore skilled holistic thinkers who understand the needs of the overall business and are able to align their team’s contribution to these needs.

They not only see the big, high level picture themselves they are able to communicate this to their team in a way which elevates their importance, and reinforces the message that what it does really can make a difference. They impart this big picture thinking to their teams so that their teams can clearly see the consequences of their actions on a day to day basis and the impact on the business as a whole.

Those that grow self-managing teams are likely to be familiar with Quality Management Practices, Lean Manufacturing Techniques, the use of Six Sigma, the key elements of Business Re-engineering and Program/Project Management.

They understand that, far from constricting people, well documented, properly followed processes release their people to work on the business to make both incremental and step changes.

Those strong in this area of growing self-managing teams have taken onboard the need for their teams to have the tools and techniques to deliver business process improvement.

Those weaker in this area will not have broken out of their narrow, silo approach to operating in their given area of specialist expertise. They will not be skilled in the area of continuous improvement, lacking both the knowledge and skills of continuous improvement themselves, and making it impossible for them to pass on these skills to their teams.

For these managers continuous improvement and process re-engineering will possibly be a huge knowledge gap to fill as well as a personal motivation issue to overcome.

Team Empowerment

Team empowerment is the real essence of self-managing teams. The whole concept of self-managing teams is that of allowing a group of people to decide on their objectives and plan how best to deliver a required result and even to exceed that required result. This requires a high degree of trust from the manager growing a self-managing team who really must embrace the key elements of people empowerment:

– Fully engaging team members in the challenges before it.

– Enabling team members to perform at the highest levels by removing blockages to their efforts.

– Encouraging team members, particularly in the face of setbacks.

– Enlarging team members’ capabilities and confidence with rigorous training/coaching

– Exciting and motivating team members in the empowerment process, particularly by recognising and celebrating successes.

– Facilitating the team’s activities and adding objective insights and suggestions.

The challenge for the aspiring leader of a self-managing team is to train and trust; to let go; to allow people to learn for themselves, to force people into self-sufficiency, and to facilitate their learning.

The parallel is that of a parent allowing his/her child to grow up knowing that the child will make mistakes, be bruised by events, and will take some hard knocks but in the end, with parental support and belief will succeed.

It is essential that in self-managing teams members are allowed to work largely independently of their manager but interdependently as a group. This subtle mix requires the manager of a self-managing team to constantly push the boundaries of the team’s empowerment, continuously taking the team out of its comfort zones and tirelessly working to ensure that the team is not dependent on him/her for their ongoing success.

Those that grow self-managing teams are committed to this facilitation/coaching/mentoring role resisting all the time, the temptation to get unnecessarily involved.

Those that have strengths in this element of growing self-managing teams will be comfortable with a high degree of empowerment and delegation and will easily adopt this facilitating/coaching role.

Those that are weaker in this area will feel that they need to be in control, micro-manage and not take the risks of empowerment. They may well struggle in this area of self-managing team leadership.

Commercial Awareness

In a sense those that grow self-managing teams are consultants to their teams. Great consultants not only have a defined area of expertise they also possess a wider knowledge of businesses, how they work, how they fail and/or succeed and most importantly how they make money. It is this commercial awareness and understanding that is so important when growing a self-managing team. Their team will need to know:

• How to calculate the costs of the processes they use, both direct and indirect costs.

• How to identify activities in the processes they use which add/do not add value.

• How to calculate the value add they provide.

• How to eliminate costs attributed to non added-value activities.

• How to work with internal teams from whom they receive work and to whom they deliver work to improve cross functional team working for margin improvement.

• How to use best practices associated with their type of work and industry norms.

• How to improve their financial success as measured internally by their organisation.

It is the job of the aspiring leader of self-managing teams to educate their teams in all of the above so that they can understand the commercial implications of their day to day operations. They must therefore possess the knowledge and skills to do this.

Those strong in this element of growing self-managing teams possess this knowledge and can pass it on.

Those who are weaker do not and need to fill this knowledge gap if they are to be effective leaders of self-managing teams.

Team Motivation

Aspiring leaders of self-managing teams really understand how to motivate team members. They possess a high level of soft skills which enables them to:

• Gauge the degree of stretch to give their team.

• Build some easy “wins” into new initiatives to boost morale.

• Play team members to their strengths.

• Provide frequent positive and reassuring feedback.

• Confront the brutal facts when problems arise.

• Use training and coaching to lift the team’s performance.

• Help the team learn from their achievements and setbacks.

• Influence on behalf of the team to effect needed changes outside of their immediate control.

• Compare the team’s results to best practitioners to incentivise higher performance.

• Celebrate successes and build recreation time into the team’s activities.

They encourage calculated risk taking, creative and innovative thinking and experimentation within the team. They allow freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them. They keep reminding their team of the necessity to push the boundaries of what is possible to achieve. They promote the idea of being catalysts for change which the whole business can learn from. They increase the team’s visibility within the overall organisation.

Those with strengths in this area of skill recognise the importance of team motivation and the key ingredients to it. They naturally and intuitively know how to build high performing teams.

Those who are weaker need to really focus on the above list of skills to acquire and develop them.

Growth and Development

Those that grow self-managing teams are fanatical about personal growth and development, their own, and that of their team members.

They understand that if they and their team members are not growing their knowledge, insights and skills they are not just standing still but going backwards. They recognise the need for people to both broaden their understanding of the wider external environment, their industry sector development, and how effective organisations succeed, they also see the need to deepen their own and others’ understanding of their own specialist area of expertise. They work on both, for themselves and their team members.

To support and encourage personal growth and development amongst their team members they:

• Accurately assess people’s performance.

• Understand their people’s satisfaction needs.

• Identify people’s unique talents and strengths.

• Hold regular personal development discussions with their team members.

• Use a variety of techniques and resources to grow and develop people’s talents.

They force themselves to grow by growing themselves out of their own jobs, equipping others to “step into their shoes”.

They see themselves as transformational leaders, challenging the status quo, and embracing thought leadership as a way to get people’s attention and to build personal credibility.

They love what they do and investing in their future is no hardship for them. They are generous with their time in helping others to achieve their aspirations. Their energy and enthusiasm is magnetic.

Those strong on this element of leading self-managing teams will naturally focus on their own and their team members’ personal growth and development. They free up their time to attend to this and create space for others to do the same.

Those weaker on this element possibly rely too much on the talents they and others already have and perhaps see growth and development initiatives as an “add-on” activity, nice to do but difficult to achieve. These people need to seriously revisit their mindset and attitude to increase their motivation to invest in this vitally important part of their role as a leader of a self-managing team

To assess your level of skill in growing a self managing team use our growing self managing team questionnaire.

Positive Change in the Management Will Change the Organization Positively

Management was considered a skill and art. People said leaders are born. Then people said leaders could be inspired. Now people say that leaders could be trained. It is true that we could be trained and taught to become leaders. Management is a leadership skill. The best leadership ever is the leadership by example. If the example is right then the understanding will be full. If the example is not right then the understanding will not be right.

Companies and organizations have managers and management levels. Smaller companies might have only one level of management and there might be only one individual as a manager. Larger corporations have different levels of management. There might be junior managers who directly deal with base level employees. There might be middle managers who interact between the junior managers and the senior managers. There might be a higher management team which would be at the top of the organizational structure.

If an organization is established to be bigger, the management would have been planned and structured beforehand. Most organizations that are worldwide and famous now, were not planned to be so when they were initiated. If you take any of the gigantic businesses, corporate companies or organizations, most of them were not meant to be grown into worldwide entities. In fact, some of the current successful and worldwide businesses were opened up for fun. We can consider the United Nations Organization as one of the very few organizations which were meant to be worldwide as they were established.

The change becomes necessary when the organization transforms from a small group of people having fun to a larger entity of importance in the society. When Facebook was launched, it consisted of only one manager; the founder himself. Now it has over 10,000 employees with different levels of management. Google was started with two people. Now it has more than 57,000 employees worldwide. This is the transformation that takes place when a company or organization grows.

All companies had to face the issue of transforming from a smaller stage to a bigger stage. Once they transform, the organizations which changed their structure of management accordingly were able to survive. The management of whichever organization was resistant to change had to pay the price of losing the organization. If an analysis is done on the organizations, companies or corporate businesses which were closed or sold, then the management would be held responsible for ending up in such situations.

The most effective mode of management is to lead by example. A military is a controlled system that runs by orders. One of the most important aspects in the military is that the leader who is giving an order also carries out that order. For example if a soldier is required to wear a uniform, then the chief of the battalion is required the same. If a soldier is required to carry out training exercises, the commander is required too. In other words, militaries are successful organizations not because the leaders or managers have much authority but because they lead by example.

As a simple fact, if a manager keeps his table clean all the time, he can ask his subordinates to keep their table clean. There will be no opposition. Since the subordinates know that their manager always keeps his table clean, they will have no excuse or reason to give him. The leader gets his authority through his example behavior and not through shouting at people.

Since management is essentially leadership, it should lead by example. The duty of higher management is to make sure that there are example leaders in the middle management. The middle management consists of the most sensitive links with most critical positions. The middle management of any organization is the bridge between the workforce and the managing force. If the bridge is not right, then the journey wouldn’t be fulfilled.

As organizations transform from small to big, the gap for a middle management arises. The top managers might be able to manage 10 staff but not 100. If the top management decided to manage all staff without middle management, it is like building a suspension bridge without any poles in the middle. It will work for up to a certain length. If the bridge exceeds the optimum length, then the strength would be in question.

It is the same with a growing business. There have to be changes to address the needs of tomorrow. Most organizations fail because they try to address the problems that took place yesterday and they forget to think and make a plan to avoid problems tomorrow. In the long run, this kind of organization will have problems piled up from the past and will be facing problems in the future as well.

The aspects of the management should change in a way that the management should be able to think, anticipate and identify potential problems in the future. They should then be able to get ready to face and solve the problems before the problems hit the organization. If this is not considered by the management, then the day to day problems will keep all the staff occupied in problem solving. While everyone is busy trying to solve the problems, the intended regular tasks will be missed. The missed tasks will seed for new problems in the future. Since the management is not willing to change, the same will take place in a loop.

A few managers don’t consider themselves as examples. The manager might not think that he is not supposed to be an example, but the employee will always look at the manager as an example. If the manager is not punctual, then the employee will either become like the manager or will not like the manager. If people don’t like other people, it is hard to take tasks from them. If you are a manager and your employee doesn’t want to take tasks from you, then you are in trouble.

Every single aspect of the manager is critical to the organization. If there are five different managers in an organization, all of them should be together and be leading by example. The employees who look at the managers should get an impression to become like the managers. In a few organizations the founders or the owners make sure that the staff will like the management. If someone in the management is spoiling the name of the entire management, that person would usually be fired.

Some say that the only job of a manager is to hire staff. I strongly disagree. The only job of a manager is to manage. Managing is a leadership aspect. The best leadership is to lead by example. To be a positive example, the manager has to be positive in all qualities. If the manager is positive in all senses, the employees will like the manager. If the employees like the manager, then they will listen to the manager. If the manager asks them to do something, they will do it. A positively qualified example manager is going to ask only something good for the organization. At the end, a positive change in the management will change the organization positively.

Records Management in Government Agencies in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Records Management is the systematic control of all records from their creation or receipt, through their processing, distribution, organization, storage and retrieval to their ultimate disposition. Because information is such an important resource to organization, the records management function also includes information management. Therefore, records management is also known as Records and Information Management or RIM (Magnus, 2006).

Records management may also be used to define as the way official records (correspondence files, information) are organized in such a way that they have a meaning, and can be used continuously by the users such as managers, records professionals, educational institutions,

Importance of Records Management in Government Agencies

Establishing a records management programme, in government agencies for example, the Meteorological Department may result in both immediate and long-term importance to the department. Below are stated some of the importance of records management in the government agencies, civil service, companies and businesses as a whole:

• Records management reduces lost or misplaced records. Because the human element is always with us, even the best system in the world will occasionally have misplaced records. But properly designed document management systems can gradually reduce misfiles. Most often misfiled records can cost the clerical staff a huge wastage of time in searching for records;

• Records management act as evidence in the time of dispute. It is important for the settlement of dispute because it can be shown as proof in court;

• It helps in evaluating progress of organization. It helps in the preservation of history of the organization. The past records shows direction to organization. It helps in finding out the weaknesses and strength of organization. Records management gives the account of progress and direction in which organization is giving on;

• Records management is the memory of business. It is useful for future decision making process. The study of past records shows direction for future. It supplies information to organization whenever it is needed therefore, it helps in taking decision;

• Records management helps to evaluate business progress and performance. It helps in comparison between one period of time and another or between sometime of businesses;

• Records management helps in management and control of important records. It helps to protect necessary records with care and disposes useless records;
• To minimize litigation risks. Organization implement records management programmes in order to reduce the risks associated with litigation and potential penalties. This can be equally true in government agencies. A consistency applied records management programme can reduce the liabilities associated with document disposal by providing for their systematic, routine disposal in a normal course of business;

• It increases accountability. A records management will put in place a system for tracking actions on each record, therefore increasing accountability and providing access reports; and

• To improve working environment. Implementing records management programme improves the working environment through the organization of records and storage offsite. Organized working environment can then improve the perception of the business by clients and potential employees. New employees are also easily trained to manage the company’s records when an efficient records management programme is in place (Jackson, 2008).

The Historical Background of the Meteorological Department Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone was the headquarter (HQ) of the West African Meteorological services which was established in 1923.Meterological services were provided for four West African countries namely Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and The Gambia respectively. The Sierra Leone Meteorological department is an offshoot of the British West African Meteorological services founded on the 27th April 1961. Since the establishment, the department has been governed by series of directors and the presently director is Alpha Bockari who has served in this capacity from 2012-to date. The headquarter is located at F18 Charlotte street Freetown.

The Meteorological Department exist to provide cost effective weather and climate services by collecting, processing, archiving and disseminating meteorological and climatological information and services to support end user contributing to the management of Sierra Leone’s economy with special regard to protection of lives and property and safeguarding of the environment and recovering the costs of the services so rendered so that it expenditure will not exceed it income.

As a department under the ministry of Transport and Aviation, they are charged with the following mandates /responsibilities:

• Safety and well being of citizen and their protection against severe weather situation and devastation from natural disasters;

• Provision of reliable climate data to facilitates project design for agricultural planning and implement, water supply systems, infrastructure, and tourism;

• Contributing to the socio- economic (including providing end user services for agricultural activities, marine) development of the country;

• Carryout weather and climate related activities e.g. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Climate Change Services (CCS), Reduction of Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and National Communication (NCS) (Meteorological Department, 2014).

Objectives of the Meteorological Department Sierra Leone

The overarching objective of the Meteorological Department established as the sole authority, which issues weather and climatological warnings and services are, to:

• Forecast, plan and deliver meteorological and climatological services which meet national socio- economic development needs.

• Collect, process, store and disseminate meteorological and climatological information both nationally and internationally in accordance with rules and practices and procedures established under the WMO Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), etc and other relevant conventions of the United Nations systems such as the Frame work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and Convention to Combat Desertification, Drought etc.

• Provide a range of customer/ sector specific operational meteorological services to such major sub sector as those for aviation, water resources, agriculture, defense, marine, tourism, sports and recreation, and construction;

• Provides advice on meteorological and climatological matters to the national community and other governmental and non- governmental agencies.

• Develop adequate manpower to enhance functional effectiveness and efficiency of agencies.

• Reduce its reliance on the national budget and generate its own revenue by charging for services rendered to other clients;

• Arrange for and manage surface and upper air observation networks and accurately and effectively record the weather and climate condition for Sierra Leone’s economic development;

• Provides meteorological services for search and rescue operations during disaster and relief operations as well as during national emergencies; and

• Participate on behalf of Sierra Leone in the activities of relevance international organizations to which its belongs, in particular the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Weather Watch (WWW), Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Developments (ACMAD), United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) etc role in all climate change activities of the country (Meteorological Department, 2014).

Methods of Managing Records at the Meteorological Department

Records keeping are of great importance to any institution. One of the most crucial decision managers, directors or heads of organization have to make is to choose the suitable methods of managing their organization’s records. There of two methods that is significantly used. These include centralized and decentralized methods of managing records.

Centralized Methods

A Centralized method of managing records is the one in which all physical documents are located in one central location or office. The location is controlled by the records management office staff. The number of employees in the records department will depend on the size of the organization. In a centralized method, end users have the comfort of knowing all physical documents relating to a particular case are held in the same location. If for instance, end user needs to reference a file he/she would be required to contact the records office staff. The file would then be checked out to the end user. A complete claim of custody of file is captured, so the location of file is known at all times.

A centralized method has a heightened level of security. For example, the entrance is locked so only the records staff has access to the files in the records office. This process yields much more control over physical document than the decentralized methods. For efficiency of purpose, uniform office procedures are documented and circulated to all end user. These procedures address topics such as hours or operation, file request and delivery times.

Decentralized Method

A Decentralized method is one in which the physical documents are located across the entire office. This may mean they can be found in every staff offices or other work room space. Unlike centralized methods, where the files are controlled exclusively by the records office. A decentralized method is controlled by the staff that created the file. The physical files are stored at the employee’s desk not in a centralized location for all to access. Thus, the method would not require a full time record staff.

Employees would have access to their files at all times and would be responsible for maintaining accuracy. The decentralized method of managing records has its demerits. For instance, suppose group of employees are working on the same case at the same time suddenly, the employee who is responsible for maintaining the file is absent. The rest of the group may have trouble in locating the file if the organization does not have claim of custody procedure in place. Along the same lines, a decentralized method of managing records will have little or no security over files. This can prove problematic especially if an organization handles high sensitive cases.

However, in the meteorological department, a centralized method of managing the department’s records is adopted. That is to say, both physical and electronic or other records are centrally managed by the department’s office clerk. Although, there are challenges with regards to the keeping and managing of records, nevertheless the method is well utilized. (Meteorological Department, 2014).

Types of Records generated by Meteorological Department

The records generated by the meteorological department office plays a vital role in managing the operations of the department. The department documents past activities, phenomenon and events that serves the basis for further actions. The records are both manual and electronic in nature. Examples of manual records include:

• Office administrative records;
• Human resource records;
• Financial/ fiscal records;
• Meteorological data/ records;
• Material records;
• Public information records;
• Conference/seminar service records; and
• General programs.

Electronic Records: These electronic or machine readable records are data in a form that can be read and processed by a computer and that satisfies the legal definition of a record. At the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone these are records relating to divisions and out stations in the department and these include:
• Electronic mail and messages;
• Electronic spreadsheet;
• Primary data files and data bases;
• Machines readable indexes; and
• Word processing files.

Users of the Records at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

The users of the Meteorological Department records in Sierra Leone include:
• Administrative personnel;
• Research/ external users;
• Human Resource Management Office (HRMO);
• Government ministries and agencies;
• International organizations e.g. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO); and
• Clients to which Meteorological Department information is given. For example, the media in Sierra Leone such as: Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), African Young Voices (AYV), and Star Television).

Filing System at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

Filing System in Records Management is the process of classifying, arranging, sorting and storing records so they may be easily located and retrieved when needed. It is the classification and control of basic file groups, material collection procedures, file preparation, sorting, indexing, maintenance and cross referencing. A well defined and maintained filing system allows vital information to be accessed quickly and saves company money by saving time. Business, schools, government agencies and even every day, people use filing systems to keep their affairs organized. Thus, the following various types of filing systems may enable agency to carry out proper filing system efficiently.

Alphabetical Filing System

In the alphabetical filing system, records are arranged according to name that is from A-Z either the name of a person, company or subject in accordance with the letters of the alphabet. There are two methods involve in alphabetical filing system.The topical alphabetic filing system, also known as a dictionary system. In this system files, individual record are in alphabetical order. This filing system works well when storing a small number of records. It proves to be problematic when individual has a lot of client sharing the same name.The other method is the geographical filing system; also know as encyclopedia or classification system. This system is used to organize larger volume of records. It groups subject together under broad categories based on a location such as a city, country or state. The categories and the files within each category are arranged alphabetically.

Numerical Filing System

In the numeric filing system, numbers are assigned to each file and arranged the numbers in segmented order. Files of people with the same name won’t have duplicate headings as with the alphabetical system. This system also offers better filing confidentiality since names are displayed in the files and work well when handing a large volume of files.

Terminal Filing System

In the terminal digit filing system also, numbers of assigned files are in sequential order but filed according to the last two digits. For example. If an individual is filing number 18547; first the individual go to 47 section of the filing system then look for the 85 area of the section and finally look for the number one (1).

Alphanumeric Filing System

The alphanumeric filing system, both letters and numbers are used to organized files. For example, two letters are used to signify the client files in, followed by a number to denote his account number.

The meteorological department filing system, have adopted the alphanumeric filing system. In that record, they use the end-tab folder and pockets that simply stand on shelves and filing cabinets. No hanging pocks with a use of office space. The meteorological department has some challenges but the filing system is organized and use efficiently.

Records Storage Systems

Record should be kept in good order, in a secure location. Those containing confidential or personal data such as staff files must be stored in lockable units and should not be left on desks overnight or view of visitors. Only records which are required frequently should be stored in the office. Those which need to be retained for legal or other reasons should be stored offsite with the records office offsite, while those which have outlived their usefulness should be destroyed. However, records which are less than one year will not be stored offsite.

Storage systems used in records office most provide appropriate protection for records based on format and volume of records, how frequently they are used, how quickly they need to be accessed and security requirement. The main types of records storage systems used include:

Vertical Filing Cabinets

These are adequate for small filing systems, but are less suitable for large runs of records and records that require frequent access. Access is slow, since drawers have to be opened, and these can significant impact where there is a high volume of records activity. The cabinets require large amount of space and drawer space is often not use to full capacity.

Book Shelves

These are suitable for books or files that are stored upright, such as box files and lever arch files.

Lateral Filing Units

These have long drawer for storing files laterally and use space more efficiently than their vertical counterparts. Alternatively, static unit without drawer can be use, where files are stored in hanging pocket or cradles. Where prompt filing and retrieval are required open unit will be the most efficient. If file access is to be restricted, units with lockable doors or shutters can be used.

Mobile Shelving

This may be suitable where a large volume of records need to be stored near at hand, as it reduces the number of access aisles require. It is the most expensive type of shelving, and is very heavy. The floor must have sufficient structural capacity to support these shelves.

Open Shelving System

This usually found in large offices and in central file rooms, it allows for rapid retrieval and refilling. This type of lateral file, which resemble open book shelves allows files to be retrieved horizontally. It also offers full viewing of the folder tabs, which makes for rapid retrieval. And there is an estimated 50 percent saving space when files are moved from vertical system to an open shelve system. This unit usually requires professional installation, which can be negotiated with the vendor is an inclusion in the cost of the equipment. These are the most efficient kinds of files available. They also have doors and can be locked. Some of those with doors have flush backs and can be used as attractive room dividers with a built-in advantage of providing a good deal of sound- proofing. These doors and 6 openings are easily accessed over 200 inches of filing. Those without doors provide even more filing capacity and should be consider, even if there is a perceived need to lock them.

Records Storage Systems at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

The main types of records storage systems used at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone is the open Shelve System which is mentioned above where files contacting records are usually found in large offices and in central file rooms which allows for the rapid retrieval and refilling. This type of lateral file, which resemble open book shelves allows files to be retrieved horizontally.

Records Retrieval at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

Retrieval is the process of locating and removing a record or file from storage. It is also the action of recovering information on a given subject from stored data. It deals with standards and procedures in retrieving paper, electronic and image records. For example, finding a name and telephone number in a telephone directory or data base is a common storage and retrieval activity. Records or information can be retrieve in three ways:

Manually: people go to a storage container and remove by hand a record wanted or make a note of information requested from it.

Mechanically: a person uses some mechanical means, such as pressing the correct buttons to rotate movable shelves to correct location of a record, remove the record manually, or record information requested from it.

Electronically: a person uses some means, such as a computer, to locate a record. The physical record may not need to be removed from storage. The requester is informed as to where it can be found, or the information requested is showed to the requester in some way, perhaps on a screen in a data base or electronic mail file.

Request for stored records may be made orally over the telephone or by a messenger or in writing memo, letter etc. The request may be delivered in person, sent by mechanical, such as a conveyor system, or sent electronically by email. The record must be retrieved from storage and given to the requester quickly. Every minute of delay in finding a record is costly in user or requester wasting time and in filers searching time and could possibly lead to loss of money for the business (Stephens, 2009).

However, manual and mechanical procedures are normally utilized in retrieving records at the Meteorological Department since majority of their records are in paper based form.

Challenges facing Records Management at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone situation in business of record keeping and management especially in the Meteorological Department system has not been too successful because of the lack of management component. Writing in support of the above finding, I have noted that many years of neglect had done great damage to meteorological sector and record keeping is not an exemption. The following are some of the challenges of proper records management faced by the Meteorological department in Sierra Leone:

Inadequate Funding

The problem of inadequate funding of records office in the meteorological department is more intensive than the other departments. This is a problem that was not only experienced during the colonial era but has passed on even to today’s records management programs. Payment of employee’s salaries, purchase of modern preservation equipment and chemicals among the other day- today activities that facilitates records preservation are vital activities that call for proper adequate funding to enable the institution to achieve its objectives are not quite seen. For this reason, the meteorological records office practice is abandoned with unqualified personnel thus suffering from inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

Inadequacy of Space and Equipment

The records office at the Meteorological Department is rather too small to contain current and non- current records. The equipment used is somehow crude in nature and also of inadequate capacity. The record staff do not have access to modern equipment due to combine problem of inadequate funding and know- how technology.

Problematic Nature of Format

Most record materials are still organic nature, most of them been paper based. This means they are capable of aging, advancing, deteriorating with time. For this reason, they need equipment to be treated and handled with for the purpose of preserving them. For such a country like Sierra Leone which lies within the tropics such conditions are worsen by high level of humidity in the atmosphere and high temperature all around the year. All these conditions combine work to hasten the nature chemical process of decaying records. Furthermore, records keeping facilities in the Meteorological Department do not have weather control preservative where all weather conditions can be controlled to enhance record preservation thus, making the whole preservation process even more difficult.

Absence of Records Management Laws

The National Records act of 1964 is outdated and is no longer serving its usefulness. Records do not have legal description, backing or definition of their service. Legal laws provide for authenticity, which serves to promote and also provides confidence to the public and those practicing in the profession about the service being offered. These are the very important elements that the Meteorological Department’s record keeping facility lacks.

Lack of Understanding and Appreciation

The records management program in the Meteorological Department is rarely appreciated and its role in the provision and management of information understood by only a handful of staff. This is also true as it is the culture in many other public and private sectors that generate vital records on a daily basis have no basic understanding of records life cycle and requirement of the records disposal act. They are extremely ignorant of the vital role that can be played by the records office to help them properly managed and preserve record both at the current and semi- current stages. Staff is totally uninformed about the records activities and for this reason it is recommended that the records office should engage in programs that will help to educate staff and other users in the requirement and content of the activities.

Conclusively,Record keeping in an organization set up is very important and cannot be over emphasized. This is because continuity depends on availability of useful records of the past activities. In a complex organization like that of the Meteorological Department, it is not possible to keep every single information in the brain, because the volume of information is heavy, therefore records must be kept. In Sierra Leone, meteorological laws demand that every meteorological station should keep certain meteorological records such as weather fore cast data, personnel records, visitor’s book, inventory book, account book. Record keeping occupies a strategic position in the efficient and effective management of meteorological system. In fact, it is central in the administration of institution of learning because it document the planning and implementation of appropriate course of service allowing monitoring of work.

Unfortunately, the Sierra Leone situation in business of record keeping and management especially in the Meteorological Department system has not been too successful because of the lack of management component. Giving credence to this assertion, records management practice in the Meteorological Department has a number of problems as indicated above. By paying close attention to all these problems and addressing them one at a time we help solve the problems and enhance good management of records in the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone.

Authority and Responsibility, How They’re Related and How They Affect Project Management

Veteran project managers know that they accept responsibility for the project when they accept the role of project manager. They also know that the lack of authority can seriously impede their ability to deliver the goals and objectives set for the project. Responsibility is directly proportional to consequences. Responsibility for project results doesn’t mean that they get placed on the bench until the next project if the one they’re leading fails, it has a monetary consequence. They will suffer with the project through elimination or reduction of bonus, a re-assignment to a less responsible role (with an attendant reduction in salary), or dismissal in the case of consultants. The connection between responsibility and consequences is entrenched in business. Larger more costly projects will tend to engage more senior project managers and the consequence of failure will be proportional. The connection between project results and consequences will also be heightened.

What is lacking in my experience (20 plus years as a programme and project manager) is a correspondence between authority and responsibility. Project managers can do much of the project planning without having access to authority. Project managers will need some help from subject matter experts for some of the planning work, even if it’s just to validate effort or cost estimates. Larger, more complex projects tend to have more need of subject matter experts to the point that some of the work is planned by these experts. The authority needed to acquire and manage the resources needed for this work will usually come with the territory. It’s when the project reaches the build or implementation phase that the project manager needs authority. They can plan the work, organize the work, and monitor performance but without authority they have a very limited ability to ensure the work is done on time and with the necessary quality.

The largest, most costly, most complex projects are led by project managers who hold senior positions in their organizations and bring that level of authority to their projects. The Manhattan project, which delivered the Atomic bomb during World War II, is a good example of this type of project and project manager. Leslie Groves, who managed the project, was a 3 star (lieutenant) General. The vast majority of projects which don’t fall into the Manhattan project category in terms of size are where the connection between authority and responsibility falls apart.

Most projects nowadays are executed in a “matrix” environment where the organization uses project managers to run projects and functional managers to manage people. The matrix environment is a good fit for most organizations because they have a mix of operational and project work. The problem with the matrix environment is that seldom do they come with a blueprint for the division of authority between the functional and project manager which means that the project manager has none of the authority and the functional manager has it all from the resource’s perspective. Organizations with more mature matrix environments may have taken some steps to resolve the issues that this division causes, but rarely do the definitions of the 2 roles include a precise description of authority. This is probably also due to the fact that the HR group plays a big role in defining authority through their policies and they tend to be behind the curve in accommodating their policies to the management of projects.

Problems start with the acquisition of the project team. Project managers are prone to the same greed and the rest of the human race and would like to have a free reign to acquire the best resources the organization has to offer. Functional managers, on the other hand, have their operational responsibilities to consider. They will be compensated for the resources they relinquish to the project but aren’t usually incented to make sure their best and brightest are made available to the project manager. That’s because their performance is measured based on the success of their operational responsibilities. If they make their best resources available to the project, they may fail to deliver on their operational goals and objectives and that may have a negative impact on their compensation. The best approach I’ve seen to balancing operational and project needs is to have functional managers whose sole responsibility is the “care and feeding” of resources. Since they don’t have any other operational responsibilities, they are free to assess the competing needs of projects and operations and make assignment decisions based on their perception of what’s best for the organization.

Problems encountered with team acquisition will propagate throughout the rest of the project. Presuming effort and duration estimates were based on some level of performance that is greater than some of the acquired team are capable of meeting, project performance will suffer. Pointing out to the project sponsor that performance issues are being caused by under-performing team members may or may not bring relief. The sponsor is likely to view your complaint with scepticism if you didn’t raise the issue before. An inability to perform the work is not the only cause of poor performance. By far the most common cause of inadequate performance is the bleeding of resource time from the project by operational demands. The demands may be quite legitimate and the operational work demanded of the resource may be the best possible use of that resource for the good of the organization. That doesn’t help the project manager when he or she has to explain poor project performance to the stakeholders. This situation is bad enough when the project manager is given notice of the demand but is much worse when they learn of the change after the fact. The level of authority the project manager has been given, or at least the functional manager’s perception of that authority, will often determine whether they find out about the operational work before or after the fact.

The other side of the resources coin is the recognition and rewards that are used to build team morale. A lack of authority in this area usually has to do with the project manager’s ability to spend money to give awards or purchase any other kind of team building activity. Recognition and rewards are usually governed by HR policy which is the reason the project manager is not given authority to bestow these on deserving team members. The lack of any kind of budget to buy awards is the other reason.

Lastly, the project manager may be called upon to deal with team members whose head just isn’t in the game. They have the ability, experience, and training to perform the work at the level of competency envisioned in the project plans but don’t. There may be a variety of reasons for this but they usually stem from the resource’s commitment to the project, or lack thereof. Let’s look at the example of a process improvement project to illustrate what I mean. The benefit of the process improvement is the elimination of effort which will translate into job loss (at least in that department). Some of the team members who work on this project may be the ones whose jobs will be eliminated; after all they’re the subject matter experts in the old process. Is it reasonable to expect these folks to show enthusiasm for the project? Of course not. Unless the project manager can show these team members how the project will benefit them, or at least not harm them they’re going to be less than committed to the objectives of the project.

The lack of enthusiasm may have nothing to do with security; there are any number of reasons for a lack of commitment from team members: jealousy, the perception that their best interests are served if the project fails, a commitment to a project they perceive as competing, dissatisfaction that a friend is not assigned to the team are just some of the “political” reasons that a team member may not give the project their best effort. Resolving any of these issues will require that the project manager have some degree of authority over the resource. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have hiring and firing authority, the ability to influence their compensation may be sufficient.

Now that I’ve made the case for an authority commensurate with the degree of responsibility, let’s look at some ways and means of acquiring that authority. I’ll start by addressing the folks who sponsor projects. You should hold your project managers responsible for project results; that’s their job, but it doesn’t make sense to hold them accountable without giving them the ability to meet the project’s goals and objectives and authority is a key component of that ability. You can help here by coming to an agreement with your project manager over the degree of authority you’re giving them. Working within the policies dictated by your HR group, you should assign them the authority level you both agree they need. Don’t speak in generalities, be specific. The project manager should know what their remedies are in the case where they have performance issues with team members. The process used for determining the composition of the project team should also be clearly articulated. How will disagreements over individual resources be resolved? Of course to do this in a way that makes sense for your organization, you’ll need to prioritize your project against the other projects and operational work of the organization. If the project goals and objectives are high priority, the project can’t be a low priority when it comes to competing for scarce resources.

Their level of authority over the team members, once the team has been defined needs to be clearly articulated as well. How will the project manager deal with a team member whose performance is sub-standard because they don’t have the necessary skills or experience? How will they handle the team member who has the necessary skills and experience but isn’t performing for some other reason? The project manager’s authority needs to be articulated in sufficient detail so that these questions are answered. Delegating authority to the project manager doesn’t have to contravene any HR policy. For example, it may be against policy to allow the project manager to hire or fire resources but where stakeholders, customers and others, contribute to performance reviews make sure the project manager is a contributor and make sure their review is weighted in accordance with the amount of time the resource spends on the project and the project priority. On the other hand sometimes projects are important enough and HR policies behind enough to warrant changing them. Don’t be afraid to gather political allies and make the case for change to HR. You may be successful in effecting the change for the next big project even if you aren’t successful making the change for the current one.

The project area that the project manager will need authority for is recognition and rewards. The project manager should be able to articulate a recognition and rewards programme for the project, or how they will utilize existing recognition and rewards programmes. Ensure they have sufficient authority to administer the programme. This will mean a budget, in most cases. Work out how you’ll make the money available when needed in cases where it’s impossible to give the project manager any signing authority. Lastly, make yourself available to take part in awards ceremonies or team building activities. I haven’t dealt with any sponsors who didn’t enjoy these occasions once they had been exposed to them.

Project managers who have sponsors that have failed to read the above, or who are not comfortable taking the initiative with you, will need to initiate the conversation themselves. Once you’ve defined the level of authority you need in detail make certain it’s documented. If your authority isn’t written down anywhere, you don’t have it. People’s memories being what they are, the perception that you have of the authority you have will differ from your sponsor’s and that gap will only widen as time goes on and memories deteriorate. Remember that the authority you’re given isn’t plucked from thin air, it is authority that your sponsor has (or any other senior stakeholder) that they delegate to you.

Your authority should be captured in the Project Charter. The level of detail need not be any greater than the rest of the charter; you can leave that to specific tasks or purposes. It should be spelled out in generalities such as “the Project Manager has the authority to participate in the selection of the project team”, “the Project Manager will evaluate members of the team and these evaluations will be used in performance reviews”, or “the Project Manager has the authority to address performance issues”. Specifics can be left until the project advances to the stage where authority is needed. For example, you can ask for an e-mail from the sponsor in advance of team acquisition specifying how decisions will be made on individual team members and how disputes will be handled.

Authority is like a muscle: it will atrophy if it isn’t used and won’t be available when it is most needed. Your sponsor has given you authority so that you can use it to achieve your project’s goals and objectives so you should never fail to achieve them because of a lack of authority unless you were specifically denied it. This means that when team members refuse to recognize your authority to direct their work you must use it to impose your will on them. Don’t confuse the imposition of your direction with abuse. You abuse your authority when you use it for purposes other than the accomplishment of the project’s goals and objectives or when you show favouritism imposing consequences or rewards. Avoid abusing your authority at all costs, but not at the cost of failing to exercise it. To ensure you avoid abusing your authority it’s a good idea to have your HR organization’s policies and guidelines handy and ensure you’re familiar with them.

Project managers who initiate the conversation about authority will have the advantage of being able to define the level of authority they believe they need. This can either be done by spelling your authority out in the draft version of the Project Charter or in some other document that precedes it. Don’t be faint-hearted here. It’s better to have authority that you don’t need and don’t use than to fail to have it and need it. Don’t be shy to exercise an authority you don’t have because neither you nor the sponsor foresaw a need for it. Your sponsor is much more likely to forgive you exercising an authority that leads to the accomplishment of a project goal than they are to forgive you for failing to meet the goal.

Most of what I’ve said here will apply to project managers who are permanent employees of the organizations they manage projects for, but what about consultants? These folks perpetually find themselves in “matrix” environments because even in organizations that are projectized or that have a mature, proven matrix arrangement, they don’t apply to the consultant. Consultants need to be especially diligent in outlining their level of authority and in using it. Their authority will never include the ability to fire or to pick and choose resources when acquiring the team. At most they will have the authority to hire contractors and participate in acquisition negotiations for employees so they need to ensure that they have a remedy that will address an insoluble problem with a team member. Don’t forget that when you first arrive on the job you’re an unknown quantity to the stakeholders. They may have had exposure to you when you interviewed for the role but you’re still an unknown quantity. After you’ve been in the role for a while you should have gained a level of trust that will allow you more leeway in exercising authority but until then don’t make assumptions that could embarrass your sponsor.

Finally, if you fail to have your sponsor delegate the authority to you that you need to succeed, make sure you document that fact. How do you do that without insulting your sponsor? Simple, not having the authority needed to achieve project goals and objectives is a risk to those goals and objectives and should be captured in the project’s risk register. Don’t describe these risks in personal terms; describe them in terms of what the risk event looks like and the likely impact on the project if they happen. A conversation about mitigation strategies to address the risk may lead to granting you the authority. At the least they should lead to a mitigation strategy that will reduce the level of risk. If all else fails and there is no granting of authority or identification of acceptable mitigation strategies, the project must accept the risk. You still have the option of reviewing this risk and its acceptance whenever the risk register is reviewed with the stakeholders. A word of caution here: the risk identifies a disagreement between you and your sponsor; don’t use this as an opportunity to embarrass your sponsor in front of their peers or managers.

One final word of advice for all project managers: it’s usually easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. When in doubt assume the authority and exercise it. If you’ve overstepped your bounds but achieved your objective your sponsor may point the mistake out to you, but won’t be as unhappy with the result as they would be if you failed to exercise the authority and failed to achieve the objective.