In the previous post in this series, we discussed the simple way to leverage the experience and talents of others to keep your project on schedule. This week we will take a look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of project management best practices. Before someone figured out that chocolate and peanut butter tastes great together, I imagine that the combination didn’t seem to go together well. The advice below is like that combination. Trusting and verifying may not seem to go together, but after you try it, you may think differently.
After graduating college in 1991, I accepted a position with a fast growing consulting company called Broadway & Seymour. My first assignment was working on a large project to develop an updated insurance system for an international insurance company. One of the practices we had on that project was to do regular code reviews. These peer reviews accelerated everyone’s knowledge and skills and improved the quality of the overall system being developed. One reason this practice actually worked so well, was because we all trusted each other and openly shared the details of our work with each other. Later in my career, I realized that my first experience being on that type of professional team was not the same as many other people’s experience of being on a team. That is a story for another day.
Tip 6 – Trust and Verify
I believe that mutual trust among team members is one of the basic requirements for a highly effective team. Without it, too much time can be easily burned on CYA activities. As every experienced project manager knows, exercising political astuteness is needed on the vast majority of projects. However, for a team to have a reasonable chance to deliver a project on schedule, politics within the team cannot be tolerated or allowed. One subtlety to recognize is that trusting someone is not the same as liking someone. Team members may or may not like each other. The important thing is they can depend on each other and have confidence in what to expect from others on the team.
The Other Half of the Battle
Having a team made up of individuals that trust each other is an important half of the battle. The other half of the battle is verifying the details of each team member’s assignments. Wait a minute! If I trust my team members, why do I need to check over their shoulder?” The short answer is, we are all human. And when you are dealing with humans, two or more human brains are better than one. Have you experienced a problem you couldn’t seem to figure out, but as soon as you asked someone else to take a look at it, you instantly figure out a solution? I think you get the point. But in case you are still a little fuzzy on the concept, try micro-managing your team without sufficient trust and you will understand.
“You don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect.”
Continue on to Delivering Projects on Schedule – Part 7, for some timeless advice for producing on-time project results.