It’s always a difficult situation. The last project was late and I don’t mean a few days late. People did a very good job trying to rescue as much as they could but by the time you were in the half you knew they won’t make it on time. Then it comes to these difficult discussions.
– The project was late.
– But we couldn’t make it on time even though we were fully engaged. You know it.
– You didn’t tell me that at the beginning. Then I suppose you thought we’d make it.
– But it appeared to be different. We did everything by the book and it didn’t work.
– The result is late. I can’t judge the effort with complete disconnection from the result.
How to judge a project manager? Final effect was below expectations. Commitment on the other hand went way above expected level. Reasons for failure can be objectively justified. Or can’t they?
Something went completely wrong. Maybe initial estimates were totally screwed, maybe it was unexpected issue which couldn’t be predicted, or maybe we didn’t have enough information about the way customer would act during implementation. Who should take responsibility?
It is said that while success has many fathers failure is an orphan. There’s no easy answer, yet manager has to come with one.
I tend to weigh more how people acted (their commitment and effort) than result (late delivery) but I treat them as interconnected measures. In other words great performer from failed project will get better feedback than underperformer from stunning-success-project. Here’s why:
• I prefer to have committed team even when they don’t know yet how to deal well with the task. They’ll learn and outgrow average teams which already know how to do the job.
• I wouldn’t like to encourage hyena-approach, when below-average performers try to join (already) successful projects. It harms team chemistry.
• If there’s a failure I (as a manager) am responsible for it in the first place. If I did my job well me team would probably be closer to success.
• Punishing for failure makes people play safe. Team will care more about keeping status quo than trying to improve things around.
• Lack of appreciation for extraordinary commitment kills any future engagement. If I tried hard and no one saw it I won’t do that another time.