Management Advice

I love nothing more than reading blogs that give out useful advice, and even more so  if the author injects humor into their posts.  Trizle is by no means an exception in the above statement, and I find myself amused by some of the daily posts, as well as a feeling of empowerment having gained some useful knowledge.

Today’s post, titled “How to Drive Your People to Meet Customer Deadlines,” certainly is as witty as previous posts, but I have to raise an eyebrow on the suggested technique called “No Deadline Left Behind.”

The synopsis of “No Deadline Left Behind” is that managers need not accept constant delays and fake promises of delivery from worker bees (named Johnny in this case) if they deduct payment form the worker each time a project misses a deadline.

  1. For instance, say you hire Johnny for $1000 to write a white paper for customer Craig. Craig needs it done 7 days.
  2. If Johnny doesn’t get that paper to customer Craig in 7 days, you remove $200 — returning those Benjamins to customer Craig.
  3. Now, if Johnny again misses it on the 8th day, you remove another $200. And, so on — until the sucker’s free to customer Craig.

Seems simple enough… if we lived in a dream world.  Yes sadly we live in a world where employees like to do as little for their money as possible (typically) and managers want to extract as much work out of their employees (typically) to meet the deadlines imposed by managers further up the chain, or by paying customers – it’s a broken equation, but what most expect from 5 days out of a 7 day week.

Personally, I think employees – let’s call them developers in my world – need to take more of a responsibility for project deadlines.  It is not acceptable to promise delivery by a certain date and then blatantly blow the deadline without some concrete evidence of some unforeseeable problem, or direction change by management or customer.

But what if you work for a manager who does not live in the real world?

I’ve lost count of the number of fellow employers who have said something like the following: 

“The project was doomed from the start, there was no way I was ever going to meet my deadline.”
“The customer changed their mind mind flow.”
“My boss would not leave me alone to complete the project.”

All of the above and more are signs that you work for a “bad planner,” and if you’re the employee charged with making the project work at a lower level then expect unreasonable deadline expectations, overtime, and hair pulling to make the project successful.

My immediate thought on “No Deadline Left Behind” is – why should the worker-bee take the hit for a missed deadline?  There’s an art into providing a perfect estimate of work, and many employees get it wrong (including myself occasionally), which is why it is the job of the project manager to establish reasonable and workable deadlines/estimates with each employee. Surely the project manager should be pitching in to the refund collection along with Johnny?  And what about upper management? Your boss’s, boss’s, boss’s boss is so far up the food chain that they cannot possibly be concerned with the finer points of implementation, and any small change made to the project for overall gain can have a huge ripple affect through the lower levels – should he/she take a hit when the project overruns?

I am not sure there is ever a right answer to the enterprise project paradigm, but I am quite sure that the extraction of money from workers for delays will only incur a decrease in motivation within the ranks and mental images of slave drivers with whips.

3 thoughts on “Management Advice

  1. robgarrett

    Awesome post, I’m certainly an advocate of parametric models to better estimate project time lines. We just have to convince all the project managers out there 😉

Comments are closed.