Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Does Everyone Really Understand?

You’re a project manager tasked with leading a critical development project. It’s a big project for your company with significant complexity and a wealth of features. You’ve got a time-critical deadline to deliver a high quality, fully-tested product to market. You think you’ve nailed down the product requirements and project plan so that all involved understand, agree, and are working toward the same goals. But have you really?  Does everyone really understand?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Your Problem Is Not My Emergency!

You’re busy at your job managing a group of people who provide services to other groups and organizations in your company. The pace at this time is hectic, with everyone in the group involved in doing what they do best – providing high quality delivery of the services they provide. Your pace, as manager, is hectic as well, trying to ensure that all demands by your ‘customers’ are being met with high quality results in a timely fashion, while also attempting to ensure that all of your people are fully engaged in activities that meet or stretch their capabilities without being overwhelmed. You try to stay on top of things by polling your ‘customers’ to identify what’s likely to be coming so that you can plan accordingly and identify who will be doing what when. Everyone in your group is feeling somewhat stressed, but manageably so, and is, in general, feeling good about their ability to satisfy the demands placed upon them.

Then you get a call from someone outside of your normal ‘customers’. This person has a problem of her own making, and is seeking help from you and your group. She made promises to an outside customer to deliver something requiring your group’s services in an extremely short (and unreasonable) timeframe. She didn’t check with anyone about the reasonableness of the delivery, but just assumed it could be done in the timeframe she promised. You’re more than willing to help, within reason and within the constraints of delivering on prior commitments. But this person isn’t interested in your constraints or commitments. Her problem is ‘far more important’ than anyone else’s, and she expects you to drop everything else and, if necessary, make everyone in your group available to help address her problem (see also The Sky Is Falling!).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Too Much Drama!

Are there times at work when you feel like you’re in a soap opera? You’re trying to get your work done, generally with insufficient time to do it, when all around you deep drama explodes; way too much drama!

A guy sitting near you regales anyone within earshot of his stories of dating conquests and his trials and tribulations on the dating scene. Way too much information and too much drama!

Another employee goes on endlessly about the personal problems in her life, with her kids, her husband, her car, her house/apartment, her finances, her hair, her whatever. You try to turn your ears off but to no avail. You’re not really interested but you can’t get a word in edgewise or escape. Again, too much drama!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Putting Lipstick On A Pig

You’re working hard at your job of managing a group that builds ‘products’ for your customers, trying to do what has been asked of you using some internally developed specialized tools you’ve been told (forced) to use.  These tools haven’t changed substantially in years, other than minor tweaks and enhancements, but the projects you've been asked to use them on to meet your customers’ increasingly more demanding needs have gotten progressively more complex and difficult to implement, and the tools just aren’t up to the jobs.  

You’ve tried to make it known and clear to those in the organization that created these specialized tools that they are increasingly more inadequate to do the ever more complex jobs.  You’ve listed in detail what is needed to effectively and efficiently carry out your jobs and you’ve prioritized your needs to indicate what is needed most all the way down to what would be nice to have but isn’t as critical.  However, that organization has their own list of priorities to work on, and your group’s needs just never seem to make it to their list of priorities.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stuck In The Middle With You

Many times in almost everyone’s career employees come up against difficult situations where people who just don’t get along with each other (one of whom may be you) are required to work together cooperatively to achieve a critical goal, be it a project, a program, a sale, a presentation, an approval, or whatever. The drama can become intense (see also Too Much Drama!). Sometimes it’s easy, but other times it can be extremely difficult, not only for the people who don’t get along (they may deserve each other), but for all the others who are stuck in the middle with you.

How do you overcome such difficult situations to achieve the desired (required) result when you’re one of those stuck in the middle of such a situation? Here are some examples and some proposed solutions: