5 Dealing with senior management
5.1 The relationship with senior management
Senior management have a crucial sponsoring role to play both during the planning and the implementation of projects, in terms of establishing their legitimacy, making project resources available and endorsing project progress. For this reason, those involved in a project must be proactive about securing and maintaining senior management support throughout its lifetime. They need to be explicit with senior management that the project is both attractive and feasible. However, during a project, senior management sometimes behave in way likely to influence unduly or even undermine its outcome. They may attempt to:
allow the client to dictate management of the project because of commercial pressure;
sabotage the project because it is not fulfilling what they believe to be its aims or even because they wish to limit the influence of the project manager;
micromanage the project – setting its agenda, handling its daily activities and usurping the project manager's power.
There are a number of actions the project manager can make in order to improve the project team's relationship with senior management and to deflect unnecessary and unhelpful involvement in the project.
senior management may start to become too involved and the project manager needs to re-establish authority to avert a micromanagement situation;
potential difficulties should be communicated to senior management clearly and honestly. If senior management lose touch with reality, they will begin to make unrealistic unfounded statements and promises about the project's progress and outcome.