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Training and Culture Change: Thoughts from the PMO Symposium

Posted by Johanna Mickel

As Director of Business Development for PM College, the learning and development arm of PM Solutions, Johanna Mickel possesses over 25 years’ experience as a business development professional working with major organizations by providing professional services for the planning and implementation of large, complex solutions especially in the professional development arena. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Johanna manages PM Solutions’ global learning and development.

Last week's PMO Symposium was a whirlwind of information and contacts, but there was one thing that I continued pondering over the weekend that I'd like to share with our PM College blog readers.

Adrian Gostick of CultureWorks delivered the closing keynote,  on how to develop a "culture of engagement," with a lot of panache ... tossing stuffed carrots into the audience to illustrate his point that it is better to lead with a carrot than a stick, for example.

He emphasized the "three aspects of culture"  – being engaged, being enabled, and being energized. The financial impacts of engagement can be huge, but fewer than a third of organizations, according to research, have employees who are engaged, enabled and energized. He described the drivers of engagement:

  • Opportunity and well being (appreciation)
  • Trust (communication)
  • Pride (alignment between personal and organizational goals)

... and stressed that these cultural tones flow from the top down. If executives don't model cultural values, you can't make employees internalize them. He offered a 7-step roadmap:

  1. Define platform
  2. Create customer focus
  3. Develop agility (that's one that no one in the project management world will be able to ignore, given the focus of the recent PMBOK update!)
  4. Share everything (communication)
  5. Partner with talent (opportunity to grow) – especially important to millennials
  6. Root for each other (demonstrate appreciation)
  7. Maintain clear accountability.

Okay, then ... given executives who support an engagement culture, how do you implement or improve that? My answer is ... training, training, training ... and then of course some mentoring and coaching! The support of an existing culture, and its improvement, is one of the big drivers behind PM College's customized training approach.

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