A couple of years ago I did an interview on what a manager can do to regain trust when he or she has screwed up royally. I thought the points were particularly pertinent to many of my subscribers so I thought I'd print excerpts from the interview here:
It's happening more and more; managers are being asked to manage virtual teams of people that may or may not have a direct reporting relationship to the manager. Some find it easy to do, but many others find it difficult to garner the respect from team members who don't have to follow the manager. Get a few helpful tips to help you next time you're asked to manage a virtual team.
When I wrote my first book in 2004 my publicist told me, "you've got to write articles to get your message out and sell books!" Being a good soldier I saluted and contemplated how I was going to get it done. My publicist turned me on to a ghost writer who wrote an article under my guidance. After paying way too much for the article and seeing the finished product, I vowed never again to have someone else write for me. I decided that if I had crappy articles it was going to be because I was the one who wrote them, not because I paid someone to write crappy articles for me.
When I wrote my first article, I decided on the topic and just started writing. It was a disaster. The content was disjointed, lacked focus, and made no sense. It also took me hours and hours to produce a piece of garbage. There had to be a better way. Fortunately I found it after a lot of trial and error.
As a child and young adult I was very independent. Regardless of the situation, if I was doing something I was determined to do it myself and not ask for anyone's help. In my eyes asking for someone's help was akin to admitting defeat or somehow showing others that I was weak or incompetent. My attitude was "If someone else can do it, I can do it". How Naive.
Colleagues, I feel your pain on this issue.
Scenario #1: You’ve got a critical position that needs to be filled by a qualified candidate, and quick. For every day the position doesn’t get filled, your in-box fills up a bit more with work to be done because your unfilled position hasn’t been staffed. You see tons of resumes and have interviewed scores of candidates, but the rock star you’re looking for isn’t emerging. You refuse to “settle” for a mediocre candidate, but the work is piling up and you’ve got to do something.
A couple of years back I was engaged on a project to help recover an agile project run amok. The project was one of the first in the organization to use an agile development methodology and consisted of eight four-week sprints with six capability development teams. The project manager was a very theoretical scrum master who was more concerned with having an agile "design win" than he was with ensuring the business sponsor was satisfied with the project result. After about the third sprint there were significant issues with capabilities not working together, interfaces with external systems breaking, and problems with meeting sprint dates for committed capabilities. To save the project, we had to take a number of steps that violated the purist agile model but were necessary if we were going to keep moving forward on the project. Our implementation looked like a mishmash of agile and waterfall. It wasn't pretty, but we eventually got the project done.
I recently keynoted at a Project Management Symposium. During the symposium several executives provided perspective on the importance of Project Management to the organization. One of the executives centered his discussion around people having vision. I can imagine the reaction of some of the people in the room. "Yeah, right. I've got projects with impossible deadlines, my customer is breathing down my neck because she is not getting what she wants, my project team isn't dedicating enough time on my project, and budget cuts mean I have to figure out how to get more done with less. You want me to have vision? I can barely get things done as it is!"
I feel your pain, colleagues. But I also agree with the exec.
Recently I've noticed a trend which frankly really ticks me off. My observation is that more and more project managers are becoming hyper risk-averse and demonstrating an unwillingness to accept accountability for the projects they manage. One tell-tale sign which I've noticed is the usage of "matrixed" organization charts. In matrixed organization charts, the project team is depicted using different types of team leads shown vertically and horizontally on the organization chart. With a matrixed organization, team members may have a "solid line" reporting relationship to one manager and a "dotted line" reporting relationship to one or more managers. Now, I fundamentally don't have a problem with the collaboration aspect that a matrixed organization enables; where I do have a problem is when the matrixed organization makes it difficult to pinpoint who has accountability for the project.
What we learned was more than what we had anticipated; not necessarily about their purchases, but about how they worked and the importance of urgency versus importance in their jobs.
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