Rajesh Tedla and Carl Nielson have amassed exceptional experience working with organizations to improve leadership, project strategy and management and high-potential development. Both have seen consistent themes in their clients’ organizations that indicate a critical need for a development program focused on soft skills and metrics for achieving project milestones. This need for development is specifically aimed at project managers or those whose role is heavily dependent on project management. Given their experience, Raj and Carl decided to address this need.
Raj Tedla’s story…
Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of NPD/NPI project leaders and managers, PMO project managers, Lean Six Sigma Greenbelts, Blackbelts and Master Blackbelts, IT PMO leaders, Design for Six Sigma Blackbelts and Master Blackbelts across a multitude of industries. What I’ve noticed in all that experience is that about 40% to 45% of projects of the past were delivered on time and within budget, while the other 55% to 60% missed at least one critical deliverable of the project resulting in increased costs, delayed launch schedules and customer dissatisfaction. The results were such that there were cost over-runs of 25% to 100%. There were incidents where projects with investments of $5 million to $10 million were totally scrapped. As a GE executive, I made it my business to find out how these failures occurred. We had great people with ample technical acumen to do practically anything. Understanding the reason for project failures became my passion.
Summarizing my experiences from several after-action review meetings at GE and later as part of my client support work, I found that most of the teams had subject matter experts with several years of work experience and relevant technical, business and project management expertise.
An after-action review (AAR) is a structured conversation that allows you and your team to learn from the group’s successes and mistakes. The process is borrowed from the military where leaders use the review to evaluate everything from a single military action to a days-long battle.
However, I was able to identify several key differences among the teams that I believe contributed to the difference between success and failure:
- A project manager with enhanced understanding of self – behaviors, motivators, acumen and communication styles
- Adherence to and discipline around prioritization and execution strategies
- Effective change acceleration processes
- Skills and methods that enable the project manager to communicate with, coach and mentor team members, key stakeholders and customers
In addition, providing the project teams with the appropriate training and an associated tool kit would have further enhanced the project leaders and project teams to deliver their projects on time and within budget.
Carl Nielson’s story…
While Raj came from the engineering side of the work world, I come from the organizational development side. Today, I am involved in high-potential development and the workings of new product development and IT implementation project teams. I find that the challenges faced by project leaders are significant and formidable. I am also recognizing that the abundant project management certifications available do not always effectively prepare project managers for the key leadership/influencing role they must perform.
I’ve been consulting and coaching in a wide range of organizations for over 16 years. For the past eight years, I have been privileged to work with Medtronic, a global medical device company. A major part of that work includes providing customized coaching and development programs for high-potentials and project management leaders. I designed and delivered a highly recognized leadership acceleration program for high-potentials that included six cohorts over four years for Medtronic RTG ST high-potentials.
With an abundance of big company experience as an HR business partner and as a consultant, I’ve designed and delivered highly successful programs including in-house high-potential development programs, senior operations leadership quarterly summits, The Coaching Clinic™ for Managers and Communication Skills for Cross-Functional Teams™. I’ve also designed and developed public offerings and self-directed programs.
My passion is soft skill development and communication strategy, and my approach reflects this. The effectiveness of this approach continues to be confirmed by my clients, program participants and executive management who provide incredibly strong feedback that I have not only identified their needs but have also structured the approach so that it empowers individuals to apply the learning.
The following components are key to the programs I offer as foundational for anyone who has project leadership responsibilities:
- Role-awareness including necessary behavioral requirements and competencies for the role
- Personal gap analysis for targeting development opportunities
- Disciplined Socratic communication model for use with individuals and teams
- Governance team norms that support building trust and collaboration
- Action planning and goal setting
- Change-management understanding and methods
- Recognizing, appreciating and adapting to different behavioral styles, motivations and acumen
While working with new product development project team leaders, it has been rewarding to see these components, tools and coaching support result in significantly improved success rates, consistent milestone achievements and high morale both on the project teams and within the leadership teams.