There are many reasons that executives may choose not to listen to their own employees. The fundamental reasons why executives had a difficult time listening to their own employees are multi-faceted. Executives often feel that employee’s lack the expertise necessary to enact change, and to employee decisions that are often in the best interests in a company (Kerzner & Saladis, 2011). In this regard, executives are likely to dismiss employee suggestions, even suggestions that may result in benefits to the organization. This is not because employee suggestions are lacking. In fact, in many regards, employee or project manager suggestions may result in significant improvements to the organization, including greater efficiency. Project manager suggestions may result from internal knowledge regarding organizational operations from internal knowledge. However, there may also be internal or personal reasons that an employee wishes to make suggestions. These may include political reasons, which is a reason that an executive may seek an external person for a consultation (Kerzner & Saladis, 2011). Further, executives often feel that individuals may have a tendency to make self-serving decisions, and may worry that employees are concerned about making decisions that are in their own interests rather than in the interest of the company. Thus, the company is more likely to listen to a consultant who is considered an objective outsider, and is paid to offer a more objective decision about what may be in the best interest of the company. If a project manager is more concerned with self-promotion, then the project manager may miss operating under the guidelines of corporate objectives, which can cost the company time and expense. While this is not always the case, this can cost the executive much in the way of procedure. Such hassle can be easily alleviated by establishing protocols and procedures. For example, as Kerzner & Saladis (2011) note, employee empowerment can be used as a means to encourage project managers and employees to develop solutions to internal problems and to develop solutions that executives can use to help facilitate greater innovation and technology within the organization. While consultants may be called upon for an objective second opinion, by using the suggestions of creative teams and project managers, executives may stand to gain by using the opinions and ideas of internal employees. In cases like this, organizations may benefit by developing internal creative solutions. There have been companies including larger corporations that have allowed many employees opportunities to advance by developing creative solutions to internal problems. This often requires that employees are well-informed of the organization’s mission, objectives and goals. Employees will also have to set personal goals that align with the organization’s mission and goals.
The consultant is often hired for diverse reasons. This includes having an objective third party opinion, one that will adhere to the mission an goals of the organization. Apart from this, many times the consultant is hired to provide a solution because the consultant is an individual that is often considered an expert in the field, and thus is coming in with an understanding of not only the problem but also with expertise in solving the problems faced by the company and with project teams (Thomas, Delisle, & Jugdev, 2011). Many times a consultant may be considered a project manager with many more years’ experience in the field not only in developing solutions but also in conflict management and team building. In this regard, the consultant is considered the expert and thus is more likely to be embraced by executives hired within the company. Further, the solutions developed by the consultant may add to the list of solutions provided by the project manager. Further, the consultant may be used to confirm ideas that are already presented by the project manager. If the consultant provides recommendations that align with those provided by the project manager, executives can rest assured they are headed in a streamlined direction. This can provide reassurance to project teams, so that a company can move forward in an empowered direction rather than in a direction the company is uncertain of.
If I were a consultant from the case study, I would employee various strategies to help executives understand the point of view and support project management recommendations. One of these would be to have executive team members quantify the benefits that would be reaped by adopting the recommendations employed by the project managers. The same is true of recommendations provided by outside consultants. It is common for consultants to quantify the solutions that are provided to a company. This can be accomplished in many ways, including through empirical analysis, comparison studies or via other means. Quantifying benefits will help executives decide the best course of action, and the methods that will product the best results for the organization. Further, quantification can occur in the way of continuous monitoring of the results that will occur following implementation of the actions taken following recommendation of the solutions provided by the project manager. Continuous improvement is something that all executives or managers within an organization should aspire to. This assures that an organization is constantly seeking the best quality and the best among its project managers, employees, consultants and other stakeholders within the organization.
One of the simplest ways that executive team members can realize a project’s potential goals or rewards is by placing quantifiers on the results (Kerzner & Saladis, 2011). Thus, the executive team members can realize realistic improvements in quality and greater customer satisfaction by seeing results through numbers or more accurate predictions of how recommendations will affect the company’s bottom line. The magnitude of potential benefits may vary from project to project or from a company to company. However, the company will not really realize the benefit implications, or potential cost implications without first tying benefits to recommendations, thus this strategy is worthwhile.
Another strategy that is worthwhile to adopt may be to engage in part-time project management by adopting one of the strategies part-time, and allowing project managers to attempt their recommendation partially or on a part-time basis so that the executive team members can see for themselves the results of implementing the project partially (Kerzner, 2014). This will hopefully begin riving results and allow for the executive team members see the greater need for full implementation of the recommendation once results are realized on a part-time or partial basis. This can also result in empowerment among the employees that have initiated the recommendations without a full investment on the part of hesitant executives.
Another recommendation may be to gain sponsorship for a project through customer relationships, by engaging with clients and customers and informing them of recommendations (Kerzner, 2014). In this way customers also have a say in what recommendations they may like to see implemented within the company, and may also determine what recommendations they are more likely to support. Thus, customers will also have input or stakeholders apart from the executive management team may also determine whether project manager recommendations may move forward, so that there is greater momentum and support for the internal recommendations. This can lead to greater motivation and greater leadership throughout the organization rather than hierarchical and executive management within the team.
- Kerzner, R., Saladis, F.P. (2011). What Executives Need to Know About Project Management. Wiley.
- Kerzner, H.R. (2014). Project Management – Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence. Wiley.
- Thomas, J., Delisle, C.L., and Jugdev, K. (2002). Selling Project Management to Senior Executives: Framing the Moves that Matter. Project Management Institute.