Fostering A Healthy Relationship Between Coaches and the PMO


Effective Coaching is based heavily on the partnerships established within an organization. To produce the results necessary for the organization to realize the value add of the Coach, the Coach needs to be well positioned to influence meaningful change.

The essence of an effective Coach stems from their ability to navigate an organization with little or no  organizational constraints. Whether the constraints are hierarchical reporting, agenda and scope driven, simply political, or cultural, the Coach needs to establish a presence within the organization that is agnostic to all of those, and is solely reporting to “the best interest of the organization” as a whole. By remaining outside of the boundaries that others may find they need to operate, the Coach’s next best ally is the sound partnerships they establish throughout the organization.

As enterprise transformations unfold, or even before they begin, at times the Coaching Community may find themselves reporting directly to the PMO. If a proper understanding of the Coaching role is not grasped by all parties, the relationship between the Coach and the PMO will inevitably become toxic, as the Coach is focusing on the dynamics (Behaviors, Relationships, and Communication) of the organization and teams, while the PMO is focused on the mechanics (Process + Tools).  With these different underlying intentions, the relationship between the two can quickly become toxic and dysfunctional, causing whatever partnership existed, to breakdown and dissipate. And because there is a direct reporting structure in place (Coach to PMO), the Coaching Community will be handcuffed, creating an environment that allows for minimal chance of survival. Additionally, the organization as a whole will not have respect for the Coaching Community, as they are bound to a division that is concerned more with metrics and reporting than fostering healthy human dynamics and establishing an organizationally owned enterprise value-driven framework. Other parts of the organization won’t understand the coaching intentions coming from the PMO and will push back on any suggested changes. The best recipe for success is to have a partnership between the two, and not a direct reporting structure, permitting them to work toward the same result while remaining steadfast to different intentions. Additionally a partnership will enable the Coaching Community to have more impact on the organization and position them to cultivate change.

In addition to a partnership, clearly understanding who owns what is paramount. The Coaching Community should own and be accountable for “coaching in” the framework created by the organization and guiding and mentoring teams on best practices/disciplines, while the PMO should have ownership and accountability over enterprise initiative budgets and the enterprise roadmap. If the PMO takes ownership over the framework, the partnership will collapse and eventually the Coaching Community and Framework will be dissolved.

The best position for the Coaching Community is to be a direct report to the CIO, and have sound equal partnerships with the Leadership Team (including CIO and COO, focused on overall strategy of the organization), the PMO (enterprise roadmap + budgets), the Enterprise Architect (enterprise architecture description ), and the Oversight Team (focused on value discovery and delivery). This dynamic will enable ownership and accountability of the framework to reside safely with the coaches, and continue to foster a healthy relationship between the coaches and the PMO.



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