Archives for category: Leadership

Getting things done through others can be the most satisfying or the most frustrating part of our work life.

As a Project Manager, I am often responsible for reporting to stakeholders on the progress the team is making on the project. My job is a whole lot easier when the individuals accountable for the work get the work done when they committed to get it done, at the quality expected by the organization.

Things get difficult when that work doesn’t get done as committed to.  As the the person accountable for reporting status my role becomes a bit of a verbal balancing act. I have to let my stakeholders know that the work that was committed to get done by a certain date is not done. At the same time I can’t throw the team member under the bus who failed to deliver the work as promised. The whole thing starts to boil over for me when the person who failed to deliver is unapologetic and dismissive of letting the team down.

The above scenario isn’t a singular anecdote from one frustrating project. In my 17 years of leading projects I’ve seen it occur many times.  As the Project Manager, I have a responsibility to work with the challenging party. Sometimes, the organization itself enables the behavior. There are tools to help the Project Manager, such as RACI tables (Responsible | Accountable | Consulted | Informed.) But tools only take us so far.

I suggest that creating a strong culture of accountability will significantly increase project success. Aligning individual performance appraisal with project performance helps. Enlist the help of the team member’s manager to ensure that she is aware of what their direct report is accountable for on the project and determine a realistic game plan for successful delivery.  Be sure that the team member is aware that his lack of accountability impacts the entire team and doesn’t go unnoticed.

What has been your experience and what has worked for you?


[Note: This is the beginning of a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

“The greatest power a person possesses is the power to choose.” – J. Martin Kohe

Is it possible to accept total responsibility to the things that happen to us? Does the buck really stop with us? Take a minute to think back on a work or personal situation that has happened recently in which you failed to accept responsibility. Instead, you may have thought, “If so-and-so didn’t do this-or-that we wouldn’t have this problem.” Is it possible to rethink that situation and take full accountability for what happened? Is it possible to not play the victim, but choose differently?

One of my main responsibilities is running projects.  I’m relatively new to my role in my current organization and my approach to project management is new to the project teams with which I work.  We are definitely learning together. There have been a few occasions recently where I have taken the “victim” role and placed blame on someone else when things went astray on the project. If I look back now I believe that in a number of those cases there was an opportunity for me to take on full accountability and not play the victim. I did have the choice and upon reflection I chose wrong.

We limit our own growth and opportunity when we attempt to use our “victimization” to not take risks or to remove ourselves from blame.

I’m about half-way through Orbiting the Giant Hairball – A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordan MacKenzie. So far an excellent and comforting read.  

I came upon the following paragraph which resonated with me and my experiences in the corporate world and considered it worth sharing:

Unfortunately, while the heart of [of the company] sings the virtues of creativity, the company’s intellect worships the predictability of the status quo and is, thus, adverse to new ideas. This incongruity creates a common corporate personality disorder: The organization officially lauds the generation of new ideas while covertly subverting the implementation of those same ideas.  [I]deas, by nature of their newness, are deemed fundamentally unseemly by the same authority conglomerate that asked for them in the first place. This makes for a lot of frustrated ideamongers.