I recently had the opportunity to speak at the executive breakfast for the PMI South Florida Chapter Professional Development Day. The audience was composed primarily of PMO heads, CIO’s and other executive level leaders.
I surveyed the group with the following question. “The percentage of very good, highly capable project managers in my organization is _________." Two results the survey revealed:
More than forty percent of the group said less than 1/2 of their project managers are highly capable
Only fourteen percent said 90% or more of their project managers were highly capable
After the vote one of the leaders asked “Should all of her project managers really be highly capable?” Her organization has a good degree of small projects and she did not feel that all of the project managers needed to be highly capable. I did not get to immediately answer the question because an opinionated debate broke out among the group.
The debate was between those who felt all project managers in their organization should be highly capable and those that felt it wasn’t really necessary. There is more than one right way for an organization to be successful and I know the leader that asked the question organization' is successful.
My opinion is all of an organization's project managers should be highly capable or moving rapidly towards becoming highly capable. This should be a goal of the organizational leadership.
Business is competitive and we should be at our best as an organization. Even if we have small projects or projects without great challenges a highly capable project manager should be able to handle more of these.
I am reminded of a statement/philosophy from the book Setting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer.
Employees can be categorized as Overwhelmers, Whelmers, and Underwhelmers. It is easy to identify Underwhelmers and get rid of them. The most dangerous employees are the Whelmers because they tend to stay in the organization longer because their performance is only adequate and “they infuse an organization and its staff with mediocrity…and send a dangerous message to your staff and guests that “average” is acceptable.”
Mediocrity can put you out of business!
It is perilous for leaders to allow a culture where average, adequate or mediocre is acceptable. You should want and create the highly capable project manager or in Myers’ word the “Overwhelmers.” Highly capable individuals usually prefer to work with other highly capable individuals in a highly capable organization.