Know your SRO

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The knowledge, skills and behaviours of the (Senior Responsible Owner) SRO are critical to the success of any project. But how much does the SRO really know about what project managers actually do, and the support that they need, to ensure that the business benefits of the project will actually be delivered?
Indeed, does the SRO really understand the full extent of their role in the typical modern project delivery scenario? (Let’s assume that they haven’t all read APM’s useful guidance such as can be found in ‘Directing Change’). Do they really understand the influence that they should be exerting to get the best results from their staff?

Although not straightforward, the high performing project manager (with high levels of stakeholder management skills and interpersonal ability) might decide to initiate helping the SRO to identify and address any gap that might exist between the SRO’s expectations for the behaviours of project staff, and the current reality.

This type of interaction might be better focused by adopting a behavioural model such as SCARF - Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness , Fairness - to increase self-awareness and identify hidden 'bad behaviours' in others (and possibly oneself).

In this context, application of the SCARF model might see the project manager:

  • Think about how he or she could address the issue without threating the ‘authority’ of the SRO. The required behaviour change might not be best achieved directly, but perhaps through influencing project stakeholders, who in turn could influence the behaviour of the SRO to provide them with more of the information and approach they need to effectively govern the project;
  • Clarify the role of the contemporary SRO and PMO – perhaps through referencing APM publications or the published approach of similar organisations who have a well-defined role and purpose for their staff fulfilling the SRO function, and who are also known to perform well in the same type of marketplace;
  • Not be overly prescriptive about how the change might be made, but focus on the advantages and efficiencies of making the desired change, and perhaps demonstrate how these have been delivered in other organisations;
  • Try to build up a working relationship with the SRO, and the associated trust, so that the SRO is more likely to take the project manager’s opinions on trust;
  • Be prepared to alter our own roles or methods of managing the project, perhaps by producing different management Information, or more regular reporting, in order to help prompt the desired change in the SRO.

These meetings will encourage a working relationship be built up to the point where an exploration of the real ‘wants and needs’ of the SRO can be more fully explored in terms of actual project reality. The project manager can offer insight into how increased efficiency and effectiveness in the actual project delivery context might be achieved, and what the SRO might need to do differently to unlock that potential.

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