Most of the articles written on this blog site come from a mix of research, working with clients and stories told to me. This one is a mix of working with clients and a story told.
Let me set the scene. I was working with a long standing client and I asked the group what was the main project management problem they wanted to solve. There were a wide mix of issues raised and then one person said:
“My problem is that I am very busy and then senior managers come along and slap a project on top of the day job.” There was certainly a supportive reaction by those participating in the course.
We spent some time talking about this and a number of positive suggestions were made:
- Look at what could be delegated. Not easy as staffing levels had been cut in this company. Some people admitted that they could try and delegate some work freeing them up to work on the project (I fed back that there appeared to be a reluctance of the group to let go of some work….most of the group agreed)
- Develop a strong team that can work to deliver the project with you playing a day to day role. More of a long off (sorry for non-cricketing fans) where you dip in and out as required. The group did highlight the possibility of increasing the risk profile for the project doing this
- Some of the managers said that there were activities that should have been stopped a good while ago. I asked what was stopping them. Silence prevailed.
- Ensure that all work linked back to the golden thread – effectively, if some of the work does not contribute to the objectives of the business then do not do it
- Identify priorities and link this with workload management. Or as one person suggested; clarify priorities. This highlight a potential blockage as they were not clear to many on the course
- Bring in extra staff to cover the business as usual work. This was quickly rejected as recent history had seen people leave the business
- I pointed out that as leaders they should be leading! I asked how many felt they were leading and there was a 50:50 split – over to you I suggested
It was clear that the problem was not just with those who were on the course but many of their fellow colleagues.
I asked the group ‘how many of you have discussed the impact of projects on business as usual or the impact of business as usual on projects with their senior managers No one had.
Time for a chat I asked? The general thought was yes.
One person suggested that there was too much to do with not enough staff. I then put the point that maybe this was an opportunity to review workload.
I have had many people comment on this on courses before and I wondered what solutions you have come across or what you would recommend. I am not the only one interested in your solutions!
Picture from Google images labelled for use with modifications