Working Through PMO Behaviours

To be competent in our PMO roles we need knowledge, experience and skills. The fourth component – often overlooked – is behaviour.

Behaviour is “observable activity of how one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.” In other words, we can see different types of behaviour in others and they can see it in us.

An example in PMO might be:

Taking ownership of tasks and complete promptly, keeping the customer up to date of progress and task completion.

We can see that the PMO Analyst is taking ownership because they’re carrying out the work and completing it – and they’re also making sure that they communicate to others what’s happening and when it will be completed. That’s really demonstrating ownership, we can actively see someone doing that – it’s a great behaviour for a competent PMO professional.

The PMO Competency Framework is launched in February 2021 and in a final session in 2020 we shared the behaviours from the Framework for a group working session.

We wanted to see how we could add new behaviours or change existing ones, using them at the right time and forming new habits.

First up, here are the behaviours:

The Behaviours from the PMO Competency Framework

This was the version of the behaviours from the PMO Competency Framework shared on the evening – there’s been a few tweaks since then – and we focused on five different behaviours, five different groups of PMO professionals working on each.

The five chosen were:

  1. Be a team player, being a role model for the core values and behaviours of the organisation
  2. Probe and challenge confidently in a professional manner
  3. Be curious and look beyond the obvious; recognising non-verbal behaviours to get to the real picture
  4. Be resilient and maintain a positive attitude
  5. Recognise the limits of your expertise and continue to develop your knowledge and skills.

Group Exercise

Just like in the previous session where we experimented with a couple of lessons learnt techniques, in this one we used another technique called HabitZ.


We chose this exercise for a number of reasons, mainly because we want great behaviours to become a habit, so this one is perfect for that. You’ll see that it takes a ‘daily commitment to form a habit’ so we wanted to see if we could come up with some ideas that would be doable on a daily basis.

First up, team player:

Focus on the outcomes you want to see if you were able to really change how you work as a team player and a role model. It’s a great exercise to do to make the connections between you and others.

There’s no point in changing the way you operate if the outcomes are not what you’re looking for.

This part of the exercise is a good way to understand behaviours – there will be outwards signs that others will be able to see – in this example, you will become the person people are seeking out for help. They’ll be able to see that you’re knowledgeable, approachable, someone who is open and always happy to listen and dispense advice. The question is, what will you start doing differently to get to this point.

Another way to carry out this exercise is collectively as a PMO team, it would be interesting to see what all the individuals in the team think and how together you can change your behaviours as a team.

With motivation and ability, you’re thinking about the will to do something and how easy or hard it might be to do. The best question in the world awaits your thoughts – why? Again we’re digging deeper to understand why we’re motivated to do it – keep asking why until you’re at the real heart of the matter.

With ability, we should always remember the adage, “how do you eat an elephant? One chunk at a time”. Just like with projects, we chunk it to make it manageable, the same applies to new habits being formed.

Probe and challenge:

With the behaviour, we’re trying to describe what people would actively see us doing. Remember the definition, “observable activity of how one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.”

In this exercise, the group pulled out the questioning aspects of providing challenge. We could go further and describe how we would question, what kinds of questions we should be asking, demonstrate active listening and probing deeper with follow up questions.

This would be linked with the confidence angle too. We ask ourselves the question, how would someone know I’m challenging with confidence? What would we actively be able to see in others as they do that?

Triggers are a great part of any new habit-forming behaviour, a reminder to us that we need to remember that we need to be using our new approaches at the right moment.

There are commonly five different triggers or cues that help in forming new habits. These are:

  1. Time – doing something at a certain time of day, week or month
  2. Location – doing something in a certain place – your desk, a meeting, different geographies
  3. Preceding events – the first cup of coffee in a morning, status report lands in the inbox, team meeting finishes.
  4. Emotional state – feeling certain emotions and being aware of them can trigger a positive response instead of a negative one. For example, you’re annoyed that someone in the team isn’t pulling their weight, cue – how to probe to find out what’s the problem instead of ignoring it and allowing it to fester.
  5. Other people – being conscious of how perceptive you are to certain people and environments for example, you’re trying to work with a particular Project Manager who doesn’t respond to requests.

Be curious:

Commitment always feels more real when it’s written down – there in black and white. It’s also about having it there, in your consciousness, not forgetting to try out the different approaches to get this new habit embedded.

Get it written, stick it on the wall, add it to your email calendar to pop up throughout the day, week, month – keep reminding yourself!

Commitment is:

Every time I get constructive feedback, I will ask for suggestions, and I will know I am succeeding because I will realise new insights about my work and performance and I will celebrate by reflecting each week, making a note of the changes I’ll make and be able to produce that in the performance review.

Be resilient:

Recognise your limits:

In this session, we took a look at the behaviours which feature in the new PMO Competency Framework. It’s not an area we’ve concentrated on much before but behaviours really do make a difference in our careers.

There’s a saying, “people get hired for their knowledge, experience and skills, yet they get fired because of their behaviours”.

I think we can guarantee that we’ll be revisiting behaviours at PMO Flashmob very soon!


About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.

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