Sometimes, there is no technique

The field of Project Management is saturated with organization wanting you to purchase their software, template catalogs, and training courses.  Additionally, there are competing project management methodologies and organizations that add to choices of ‘best practices’ across the industry.  With all of these tools to leverage, you would think there is a case study, technique, formula, etc to handle every possible scenario you could possibly face on your project.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case…

Before you start thinking, check out this clip on arguing

I was working a typical cross-functional project…technology had the systems to tweak, legal had customer contracts to write, and so on.  One of the resources was a Director of Sales & Marketing with experience at some phenomenal organizations.  From the start, I had been working with this resource to educate them on our Project Framework, roles & responsibilities in our project teams, and so on.  Anyway, this guy was having a difficult time understanding that we didn’t have interns or other ‘lower band’ employees to do the grunt work (their words).  While he was in charge of all sales collateral (client & sales facing) he didn’t seem to want to proof material or follow it through to final draft.  On one project, we came to the final due date on a series of rough drafts, but we needed him to incorporate everyone’s input, updates, etc. and get them to the printers/web team.  When I asked him “Hey Director, will you get those final edits to the printers today?”  He looked at me and said “No, I am swamped.  What do you need from me?”  So I informed him that it was his responsibility to get the final edits in to the printers by end of day.  His response “so you need me to run spell check?  Is that what you are asking Rob?  So you need a high-paid resource like me to run spell check”  Side note here, some of the edits included suggestions of placing some text in a highlighted box, changing fonts, adding a picture, etc.  Realizing I have trained, negotiated, encouraged, ‘rewarded’, etc and that I would be working with Mr. Director more in the future, it was time to put a stop to this.  So, my response was “Yes.  Mr. Director, your responsibility is to get the final draft with zero mark-ups to the printer.  So please run spell check and get it there.  By the way, can I get your version of MS Office because my spell checker doesn’t automatically add pictures; it doesn’t make a decision on a final font to be used and handle some of the other edits that need to be finalized.  Oh, will you have that out to the printer by end of day?”  My adrenaline was up a bit and his hands were visibly shaking as he stopped off. (Work got done by the way)

The point of the story is that sometimes you simply need to put your foot down.  There isn’t any more give and take, there aren’t any more suggestions, and there is no vision casting to get them on board.  All you have is what may turn out to be an uncomfortable and ‘spirited’ conversion in which you need to tell a team member that it is their job, their role, and their responsibility to make it happen. Do it.


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