INTERVIU Roland Gareis: “What surprised the organizations is the way we take them seriously”

roland_gareisRoland Gareis, fondatorul si directorul ROLAND GAREIS CONSULTING GmbH Viena si ROLAND GAREIS CONSULTING Bucuresti (infiintata in 2006), si-a inceput activitatea ca si profesor la Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, intre 1979-1981. A fost, de asemenea, profesor-invitat la Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (1982), la State University in Georgia (1987) si la University of Quebec in Montreal (1991). In prezent, este profesor de managementul proiectelor, fiind si directorul academic al Professional MBA Project & Process Management (Vienna University of Economics and Business). What is project management?Roland Gareis: As the names says. It’s the management of projects. So, we need to understand what is management: this process is planning, controlling, organizing, and leading people; a project is a temporary organization, so you do not manage a company or a department, but you are managing a temporary organization which you establish in order to deal with a complex, unique type of process, like to develop a new product, reorganize your company, therefore something which is unique and requires a lot of management attention.

What is the difference between the Romanian project managers and the Austrian ones?RG: Well, I don’t see any differences in the qualification of the people, but what is different is the paradigm behind it, the value system, the context in which projects are managed. And here, what I can still observe is that there is more belief in the hierarchy, in formal decision making, formal documenting and less understanding and accepting the benefits of teamwork and empowerment, of taking on responsibilities if you work in projects and so on. I think it’s more of a cultural difference in the nations and less concerning the qualification of the professionals. But, this has an influence on their behavior, on their perspective as a project manager.

“Change the setting, change the context and this could make a difference on how you deal with a conflict”

How do you work on the chemistry between team members?

RG: I think that chemistry is given a too high importance. I think there are many conflicts and problems between people because the structures are not clear, the objectives are not clear, it’s not clear what are their roles, how working forms are supposed to be applied. Many of these “interpersonal conflicts” can be taken out easily, if you organize professionally and appropiate. But, yes, there might be personal conflicts between people, in this case you need to find ways of addressing this. I think it’s important to address it and not make it a tabu, not talk about it at all, and by addressing it you can find different ways of dealing with it. Change the setting, change the context, get a glass of beer and this could make a difference on how you deal with such a situation. But sometimes, the other extreme is that you have to change the people, because it’s a bunch of people coming together in a project team that never worked together. There might be some frictions. You need to consider this and invest in this by explicit teambuilding, clarifying and using the appropriate structures. Changing people is the last step.

What should the Romanian project managers learn from the experience of the Austrian ones?

RG: Well, there are good project managers and bad project managers in Austria, and the same is for Romania. It is again the context in which projects are performed, how much transparency is there, how much willingness to cooperate within the company, but also with other companies. It is a little bit more about the value system you have in different organizations, but, yes, I think there is a longer project management history in Austria than in Romania. I guess what our company, Roland Gareis Consulting, is doing is to transfer some of the knowledge we have experienced in Austria in project management, in process management, in change management and apply it here to the organizations. This is not new to the organizations, because the methods can be found in literature, on internet or whatsoever. I guess, what is new to them and what surprised them are the working forms, the way we take them seriously, how we involve them and allow them to participate and make them responsible. Most of the time, they appreciate and enjoy this approach, because they are taken all of a sudden seriously and they can contribute to decision making. I guess the process of working and the results related are very closely. I don’t think are so much better or too different, but the working forms we apply make a bit of difference.

“Companies that relate from a social point of view to their clients in an appropriate form, have good customer relationships, should really make the difference these tough times”

How does the picture of the ideal project manager look like?

RG: He/she is socially competent. It’s not about how to develop a work-breakdown-structure, how to work with responsibility chart. I mean, my kid can learn that in a short period of time, but to do this in a team, to get the results accepted is a social process. So, we need people that like to work in teams, that can relate to other people, who can lead. Plus, the self understanding of a project manager is to be a driver, a leader. You manage a project, you want to be successful with your project. You want to come to an end result. You are not allowed to be just a bureaucrat, just to have your plans updated. Nobody cares about this, I want to have good results – and how he/she achieves is a secondary thing.

For what sort of companies is this economic crisis an opportunity?

RG: Good point of view. I think sustainability is a big issue these days. Companies that are innovative, which have a vision, a social responsibility, also. Maybe, technology companies that come with a green type of technology. Other companies that relate from a social point of view to their clients in an appropriate form, have good customer relationships and so on, should really make the difference these tough times. I don’t see any specific industry or any specific type or size of company, but it’s the way the company behaves, how it relates to the environment in order to make a difference and then be successful.

What’s the reason for choosing 12 Romanian consultants and 3 – 5 foreign consultants for the branch in Romania?

RG: Actually, we came here because we got a contract with Petrom. One of the requirements of Petrom was to work in Romanian language, and I was contributing to a Tempus project in an EU financed project in 2000 which was about establishing master degree programmes here in Romania, in the university in Constanta and ASE. And so, I had a number of contacts of good practitioners in project management. When I came back, 5 years later, I could recruit from this EU project qualified people who participated in a “Train the trainer” program with us and since then 80% of the work is done by the Romanian consultants. It’s just me and Dagmar Zuchi (n.r. consultant al Roland Gareis Consulting Viena) who come in Romania sometimes, just for specific assignments that we have.

Interviuri MP – Roland Gareis

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