Project Management: Do You Care Enough to Give Your Best?
By John McDonald
We all know the concept of “phoning it in.” That’s where we do just enough to get by. Just enough to get it done. Barely passable.
Does that type of attitude show to our colleagues? Does it come through loud and clear to our supervisors and senior leadership? How about our project customers? Do they see that we are sacrificing quality for just going through the motions and getting it done?
Colleagues? Yes. Senior leadership? If they are paying attention. Customer? Not right away – and possibly not until it’s too far gone on the project. Because unless we are really doing poorly, then the trimming around the edges or not going for the best quality may not even be apparent to them until post-implementation. Sad, but true.
Bottom line – this is not how any good project manager should be conducting themselves. It’s not how any project team member should be upholding their responsibilities to the project, the rest of the team, the project manager and ultimately the customer.
If we see this happening around us, should we do something? I don’t want to ever be labeled the “whistleblower” type person, but I always feel that if we are part of an organization who specializes in providing project management type services to outside clients, then we are all basically in the role of mandatory reporters. Maybe not the first in line to “tell on” our colleagues. But we need to also not suffer from “bystander apathy.” Do something. Anything. But don’t just let it happen if you know it’s going on. And certainly don’t get so hardened by your workload or lack of interest in what you are doing to ever fall into that trap yourself. Back off, do something different or seek some additional training before you toss out a career because of boredom, disdain or lack of interest in quality and servitude.
But let’s not assume it’s us…because if it was then we probably wouldn’t be reading this or writing about it. You’re seeking information because you care. Let’s assume this is about a colleague or team member. If we see it happening, we need to act. Take it upon yourself to make a difference for your colleague and for your organization. Consider these three actions:
- Take your colleague out to lunch.
This may sound a little trite, but it’s a nice inroad to a discussion about what’s going on. Discuss work, see what’s happening on their projects and in their lives. It may have nothing to do with work and everything to do with another aspect of their life that has been turned upside down. Ask if there is something you can do to help – possibly discuss the concept of them taking some time off or offloading some key projects while they work through whatever issues they are experiencing. Many times professionals won’t even consider this until it’s discussed in a sensible way that makes it seem like a feasible solution.
Discuss concerns with leadership.
It’s always best to go to the source first, but if that’s not possible or if that attempt was thwarted then go to the PMO director or next level of leadership. If service quality of the organization is lacking and action isn’t being taken to some degree, the company as a whole may suffer. Important clients may be lost, and the reputation of the company will be at stake from the information those dissatisfied clients share with other prospective clients in your industry. You can quickly see how just letting it continue is the worse possible answer to this issue.
Talk to the project customer.
This is a step that can only be taken if one of the following is the case….1) It’s a project customer that you have personally worked with before and already have an established relationship or 2) you know they are already becoming outspoken about project issues or work quality with others in the industry or within your organization. Either way, it’s definitely not a first or second step…it probably should be more of a final step. How you approach it is up to you. The one time I did go this route it was to get a gauge on their level of dissatisfaction or frustration before talking to leadership (see #2 above) because it was a past client of mine with whom I had a great relationship. I figured I had a chance to possibly save a client relationship by starting a discussion. And it turned out to be a good move as the project did continue and the client was retained as an ongoing customer with the organization.