The PMO as a Coach | Wellingtone

A few years ago I was lucky enough to have light bulb moment thanks to a Client who employed me to review their PMO ways of working.

On beginning my journey with them, I discovered that although the ways of working were not how I would design them, the root cause of their engagement problems was relationships.

Their approach was so focused on process and best practice that they forgot to see the humans sat at the other side of the table. Following the first few days of interviews, I spent the remaining time I had with them coaching them to build and sustain positive, constructive relationships instead of re-designing their templates.

My recommendations at the end of the engagement were all focused on how building solid foundations based on trust and respect would elevate the PMO and the perception of value that they added to the organisation.

Shortly after that engagement I took myself off to do a coaching course and found that the benefits of taking this approach seriously outweighed the length of time it takes to build relationships (inevitably slower than developing new working processes in an ivory tower). Since then, although some of my peers don’t agree with me, I try to support PMOs to focus their efforts on communities and relationships as well as the mechanics of what we do.

At this years FuturePMO conference, the team decided that the trust issue is an important one, so we worked with Paulo Finuras from ISG -Lisbon Business & Economics School to bring this topic to life for the PMO people in the room.

Paulo reminded us of the tangible benefits to an organisation that prioritises trust as a value and a way of being; fewer sick days, less burnout, higher productivity, and more engagement from employees.

He talked about the six traits of high performing teams: Mutual Trust, Interdependence, Structure and Clarity, Meaning, Impact, and Psychological Security. If we consider our teams, what we are trying to achieve, and our PMO principles, surely the correlation is obvious?

This month I attended a coaching masterclass focused on that Start Fast methodology. An interesting approach to getting a quicker result through identifying and targeting where the bottleneck is for the coachee. The bottleneck in their context or conditions they find themselves in that make them unable to develop in the way that they want.

The typical bottlenecks show themselves in one of five areas; insight, motivation, capabilities, real-world practice, and accountability. When one of these is negatively impacted we cannot grow as individuals.

Considering that the work economy is changing, and the importance of understanding the human aspect of the mechanics we put in place is growing all the time, do we need to consider the PMO as coaching institution? To be able to truly have a servant leadership approach, our future must include some elements of coaching and mentoring into how we enable capability; of ourselves, of our teams, of our Customers. Is it time to change the way we think about out work?

Human First, PMO Second.

By Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton