To do or not to do…

shakespeare_todoornottodoAs any one who has seen The Apprentice can testify, giving two project teams the same task rarely generates the same result. In the real business world, however, strikingly different results can also occur, though not as the result of the infighting or backstabbing that exasperates Lord Sugar so much, but due to the team leaders’ completely different management approaches.

As Peter and Paul will now demonstrate below.

Peter Paul
Management Style Plans with his team in detail once the task has been set. Has faith in his team. They’ll deliver when he gives them the end goal.
Direction Planning means everyone knows their individual roles and responsibilities as well as the group objective. Everyone is busy. That’s great news for Paul as it demonstrates his team are ‘getting things done’. He’ll know more at the end.
Accountability Specific tasks are assigned and responsibility for delivery given. Team members also help support others not just focus on their own tasks. Accountability and responsibility is a group thing. We all win, we all lose. Well, not everyone. Obviously when things go wrong we know who to blame. Usually.
Adequate Resources Right from the start, Peter knew he had the capacity and skill in his team to deliver. Every task was estimated in terms of time for delivery and, with a small contingency, the team has sufficient capacity. Paul thinks his team should be ok. They’ve done similar things before. If they’re late or over budget then they should have been given more resources. We’ll find out at the end for definite but gut feel is good.
Problem Anticipation No need for email or endless meetings. It’s easy to see in real time team and individual progress. Holidays can be covered. The team are busy but not stretched. Two team members are off sick with stress. So it’s long hours and weekend work for everyone else. ‘Thanks’ team mates! Peter thinks they might be a few days late now. Maybe a little over budget too.
Employee Expertise Peter, by getting to know his team and involve them, knows current skill levels, and knows where development needs are. He can help make good people great, and give great people more challenging tasks. Paul is getting a bit hacked off now with team members who are supposed to be experts but act like amateurs. He may as well start doing a few things himself and he certainly hasn’t got time to train people. Isn’t that HR’s job?
Communication It’s great within the team, great from the team to Peter and Peter is giving his bosses confidence with real-time updates and consistently hitting milestone targets. No one is talking to anyone now. And Paul is avoiding his bosses. They’re asking too many questions. Mostly starting with “Where are we with…?” and Paul hasn’t got a clue.
Project Completion

Delivered on time and on budget.

Another week or two. Three at the most. Definitely by next month. Probably by next month.
Lessons Learned The team evaluate exactly what went really well, and discuss whether there was anything that could be improved upon for next time. The report is shared with all team members so they can bring any learning to their next team or task. Paul thinks he needs a new team. His team think they need a new manager. There were lots of things wrong in general from the start. Nothing specific. Just lots of general things we’d probably do differently next time.

 

So if you don’t think you’ve got time to plan, plan to fail.

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