A program that actually improves organizational performance cannot be implemented by a single person, champion or even a small group of leaders. A committed and knowledgeable Program Management Team is the backbone of any major organizational change. To be successful, organizations must create an influential, diverse, and representative team to champion and lead the new program.1
There is no perfect structure for a Program Management Team; ideally, it should be customized to suit the organization, its culture, and the program’s size and intensity. For illustrative purposes, the following describes the various groups and individuals that make up an example of a relatively diverse and multi-faceted team.
The Leadership Team, which consists of a Program Champion, Program Sponsor and other senior supporters, was defined in detail in the Leadership Capacity section. The Leadership Tea serves as the foundation of the Program Management Team, setting direction, establishing influence, and maintaining accountability for the program.
Action & Engagement Team
As the name suggests, an Action & Engagement Team (more commonly referred to as a ‘Green Team’) is responsible for making things happen on the ground, as well as directly and personally connecting the program to all employees. The team would be expected to perform the following functions:
- Generating new project ideas.
- Representing the various interests and perspectives from across the organization.
- Supporting the execution of steps involved in project development (e.g. data collection, process mapping, technical analysis, procurement, etc.).
- Coordinating the implementation of projects within each department.
- Facilitating communication with employees, including collecting input and feedback.
- Contributing to the development and roll-out of employee education and training.
It is important this team possess a healthy mix of representatives from across the organization. Try to include a diverse group of employees, including:
- New and experienced.
- Junior and senior.
- From across departments, areas and disciplines.
An Action & Engagement Team that is diverse and representative is likely to possess the following characteristics that should improve its efficacy:
Credible: appearing to be without bias and committed to serving the best interest of the whole organization.
Multi-functional: capable of performing many tasks well.
Equitable: considerate of the spectrum of perspectives that exist among employees.
Insightful: intimately knowledgeable of each area of the organization and able to identify opportunities or challenges not obvious from the outside.
Connected: aware of reality and able to gauge progress and identify potential issues early.
Influential: effectively promoting cooperation and commitment among colleagues to the changes being made.
The size and intensity of the program will help inform the number of people assigned to this team and the level of time and energy they are required to contribute. Keep in mind it can be difficult to make decisions if you have too many people around the table. Striking a balance between inclusivity and efficiency is key.2
Subject Matter Experts
These individuals have very deep knowledge and experience within their particular functional area or department. They are relied upon to provide insights, ideas and feedback specifically from the perspective of the part of the organization they represent. Their knowledge will be especially helpful when collecting information, identifying and assessing new solutions that address sustainability challenges. Subject Matter Experts are expected to serve the program by contributing the best knowledge available and they do not need to be strong change agents, although having well suited qualities certainly helps.
The development of a successful program often demands reliance on external support to perform functions that require skills or expertise not available among employees. For this type of program, it is most likely that some sustainability-related and change management expertise will need to be secured externally. The support required may be available through one of several types of organizations including: NGOs, government agencies/departments and consultants, community groups, etc .
As mentioned, this is but one example of how a Program Management Team may look. Ultimately, the specific structure and profile of a Program Management Team should be based on the nature of the organization and program being created.
For a free tool to help your organization build an Action and Engagement Team click here
Team Member Selection
Not all employees are well suited to a Program Management Team member. The ideal team member would be:
- An excellent communicator.
- Influential and respected/credible among peers.
- Flexible, open and committed to organizational vision.
- Knowledgeable and experienced within their area or department.
- Passionate, enthusiastic and resilient.
- Team-oriented and easy to work with.
- Has change management experience.
- Motivated to contribute to the success of a sustainability program.
Some team members may be dedicated to this effort on a full or part-time basis, whereas most are likely to be assigned a role in addition to their existing job. While it is unlikely you will find many individuals who possess all of the characteristics listed, it is important those in the most critical positions come pretty close.
Looking at the team as a whole, it is also important it collectively possesses the following strengths among its members:
- Strong leadership and influence.
- Decision-making power.
- Diverse representation from across levels and departments.
- Deep organizational knowledge and experience.
- Expertise related to sustainability.
1. Prosci offers a great resource on the roles on a Program Management Team that can be found here: http://www.change-management.com/tutorial-job-roles-mod2.htm
2. Information on building an Action and Engagement team adapted from WWF Living Planet @ Work’s resource Forming an Effective Green Committee found here: http://atwork.wwf.ca/EN/resources/pdfs/Building%20An%20Effective%20Green%20Team.pdf