Episode 270: Are They Really Working On Your Project (Free)
This episode is sponsored by The PM PrepCast for The PMP Exam:
How do you know whether or not someone is actually doing the work they are supposed to be doing on your project? Well.. we could assume that if they are assigned to your project then they must be working on the project, right? Well… maybe. But sometimes it is not so clear. Sometimes you just don’t have that “warm fuzzy feeling”.
And that pretty much is the point where today’s interview with Margaret Meloni starts. From here we will explore how such situations can occur, how line managers could be responsible for causing this kind of feeling in us project managers and we’ll take a look at a few examples from Margaret’s professional life.
But most importantly of course, we will look at what can be done to both avoid and deal with such situations.
This PM Podcast interview is based on Margaret Meloni's coachinar titled 3 Reasons People Do Not Do Their Jobs (And What to Do About It)...
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 270. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.project-management-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Welcome back.
How do you know whether or not someone is actually doing the work they are supposed to be doing on your project? Well, we could assume that if they are assigned to our project then well they must be working on the project, right? Well maybe.
But sometimes it's not so clear. Sometimes you just don’t have that warm, fuzzy feeling with someone and that pretty much is the point where today's interview with Margaret Meloni get started.
From here, we will explore how such situations can occur. How line managers could be responsible for causing this kind of feeling in us project managers and we'll take a look at a few examples from Margaret's professional life. But most importantly, of course, we will look at what can be done to both avoid and then also deal with such situations.
And now, are you really listening? Enjoy the interview.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Margaret. Welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!
Margaret Meloni: Thank you. Great to be here as always!
Cornelius Fichtner: Ah, I'm very happy to have you. So you have sent me a draft article that's going to be published in one of ezines in the coming weeks and listeners who listen to this in the year 2025, for them it will already be in the past.
And this article is going to talk about whether or not resources on your projects are actually working and working for you and not working for someone else. Let's set the stage here. What is the takeaway going to be for our listeners here?
Margaret Meloni: Sometimes you start a project and you’re not feeling comfortable as to whether or not the people who are showing up and smiling at you in status meetings, as to whether or not they really jumped in to the work yet and we're going to look at that situation and tackle it and see how do you know and what can you do about it, and how can you prevent this.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. So set this up a little bit more for me. So we have a team meeting and people are coming in and what's the problem that we are trying to solve right now?
Margaret Meloni: Well, it's something like this and I'll just tell you right now. I know that this has happened to me and other people have to come with this as well. Say, it's the beginning of your project. It's definitely within the first month. You're doing a great job. You've already had the kickoff. You have people assigned to you and you are having them come in for, let's say, good weekly updates and you run high-quality good meetings.
And there's at least, there's one resource who comes in always looks at you. She is always smiling. When it's her turn to speak, she assures you that everything is perfect. No issues to report. Everything is on track. For some reason, you're just not getting you know we call it, the warm and fuzzy, let's say, your project manager intuition warning bells are going off and you're just not sure that she has really jumped in to the project yet.
Cornelius Fichtner: So what could lead to something like this occurring?
Margaret Meloni: Ah! Well, let's go back to the beginning. So when your project was approved and this resource was assigned, now we want to talk a little bit about project organizations for a minute, project organizational structures. If you're running the projectized organization, then this shouldn't happen. You should already know what's going on because that person should be reporting to you 100% of their time.
What we're really looking at is when you're in the matrix situation, running using a matrix organization, what so many projects and organizations you use. And so this person was assigned to you by someone else, a non-project manager, I'm going to use the name functional manager. A functional manager has assigned this resource to you. Well sometimes what happens is if you got a functional manager, you don’t want to be the one who couldn’t provide a resource because this project is ready to start. The sponsors are excited and it's ready to go. And nobody wants to be the one that says: 'You can't start yet because my resource isn't ready.'
So sometimes what happens is a manager might call someone else and say: 'You know, you're going to work on Margaret's project but I know you are really finishing up Cornelius' project.' And so show up in her meetings so that she, you know, doesn’t report this as not having anyone on the project and don’t worry about it. Start in a couple of weeks as soon as you finish Cornelius' project and just catch up. So I'm ready to stop there. I don’t know if you've ever had that happen. I just know that I've seen it.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! It has definitely happened to me as well where you're just thinking something is wrong here. In the end, it's going to work out because these people are coming on board overtime. But you've lost all that time. So what are some of the questions that you ask yourself and other people when you realize that something like this is going on here, that when your alarm bells are going off?
Margaret Meloni: Absolutely! I'm going to start with the resource first and if I'm not getting that good feeling about it, I'm going to ask to see some of their work and some of their deliverables, perhaps ask them to do a review session, bring something to the next meeting, allow me to sit in if somebody that they're supposed to be interviewing, our customer for requirements. I might ask to participate. I might call the customer and say how is it going with the requirements gathering sessions, any way that I can check in. I'm not going to call the person a liar. I could be wrong by the way. But anything that I can do to check in to confirm what is really happening.
Cornelius Fichtner: All these is not really happening maliciously, is it?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
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