Archives for category: management

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 4th in  a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What type of words would you use to describe a leader?” This is the question I asked a group of 7 and 8 year olds in the religious education class I co-teach at my church. We were discussing Harriet Tubman specifically, but leadership in general. Many in the class were looking randomly around the room or fiddling with a shoelace or jacket zipper as 2nd and 3rd graders might. But one little girl shyly raised her hand and answered, “Trust.”

Integrity and trust are key ingredients in establishing who you are as a leader, team member, wife, husband, brother, sister and friend. We each have a core value system. Our own ability to live by the value system and make choices – day in and day out, large and small – that align with our values define our integrity and others capacity to trust us.

At the end of the day you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about the decisions and choices you made that day. That you did not compromise your values.

For many coaching sessions, the coach will have the client create a list of her core values. I worked on this list and, in the realm of work, one of my core values is to “do what I say I am going to do – every time.”   Meeting that commitment establishes trust with the person to whom I made that commitment and defines my integrity.

What if I didn’t do what I said I was going to do? This did happen recently at work. It was an honest mistake on my part, but to the person to whom I made the commitment it created a small crack in their trust.  Their response was understandable and mine as well.  Even as a result of a mistake, it is very hard for me to act in a manner that goes against my core values.

I’m sure you have all experienced this. When we have really hard decisions to make. The ones that are most uncomfortable. Many times these are the ones that are challenging our core values – challenging our integrity.

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.