Sunday, 26 January 2014

Perspective is everything

The other day I was speaking with a group of people who thought it was so horrible that their executives look at the contents of the project tracking system. And worse, that they challenge the project managers when their status updates and the contents of the tracking system don't appear to match.

My first response to them was to ask "How so?"

They elaborated about their belief that they should just be trusted to deliver to what is described in the project plan at the start of the project.

I countered saying my perspective is actually the complete opposite of that. A couple of people just walked away. The smarter people looked at me like I was nuts, and the even smarter people ask "How so?".  I elaborated with the following justifications.

1) Want to know whether or your project is really important to the bottom line? Listen to see whether or not they are talking and asking about it. Seriously, if they're not, it's not.

2) Executives have people they have to report to too. Executives seriously do not have time to ask about the minutea of your project. However, if they can't get the information they need AND the project is important don't expect them not to. And if they don't, it doesn't really matter -- re: see point 1 above. That's one of the great things about burndown charts that are embedded apps within the tracking system being used. It gives a snapshot view of what the status is at any point in time, if it's embedded well, the extra effort to create those charts is somewhere between negligable and nil.

3) It's NOT micromanaging if all they're asking for is progress updates and quantifiable information to substantiate what you are saying. It's called 'trust but verify' and any manager that doesn't do that is either incompetent, a fool, or both. From a financial perspective it's also a SOX compliance issue. To you, it's an 'oops'. To them, it's a potential legal matter and in the most serious cases possible jail time. Blind trust is a fool's overture.

4) EVERYONE wants to go home at night and into the office in the morning with the warm and fuzzies. Executives are no different. 
So reminder to smile, say thank you, and offer a concise and direct answer the next time you get asked what is going on.

Oh, BTW, those people that stayed engaged in the conversation? We all learned something those who left figuring they already knew everything that mattered. We're all further ahead in the game than them. Now also recognize that these are all start people; some of them wise. Yes, there is a difference, but that's for another post.

And when it comes to career management it tends to be those who know the most and work the best with others who tend to start in the game the longest. ... of course there are exceptions. And the companies where those expectations tend to apply also tend to be the companies on the way out.