Monday, January 8, 2007

January 8, 2007 – Evil Alter Ego #3: Mr. Promise

So far we dealt with Mr. Genius by clueing him in to what everyone else already knows: he doesn’t have all the answers. Then we overcame Ms. Bellows by dealing with the root causes and calming down. But Mr. Promise seems like he would be a great guy to have around. How could he possibly be evil?

Unfortunately, Mr. Promise is extremely dangerous, both to his own career and to his projects. The only thing worse than not keeping all of the promises he makes is when he actually attempts to. If he breaks a promise people get mad and he will eventually get fired. In an attempt to keeps every promise his project is likely to either go way over budget or far beyond schedule. To curb this alter ego you need to pick, protect, track and close.

Pick your promises appropriately. Just because something sounds like a good idea doesn’t mean it should be tackled. Even if a task needs to be done it doesn’t mean it should become your responsibility or be dded to your project. Granted, if you are the expert and have the time, go ahead and volunteer. If not, allow someone else to step up. One trick is to simply wait quietly. The silence may encourage someone else to take it on.

Protect the project. Check the request against the scope of the project. If it passes that test then check the budget and schedule to see if it can be included. Depending on the size of the request use the Change Management process to authorize and fund it.

Track your promises. The big items that are handled through Change Management are easy to track. It is those annoying little ones that are made during meetings and in casual conversations that tend to trip us up. Make sure you document and track them as action items. For meetings, use minutes with a section for recording action items for the group. Assign both a resource and a due date for each action item and check the progress at the next meeting.

Close them out. When a promise is met, make sure to loop back and let the person know it is completed. In some cases they may not even remember asking for it. The follow up will give them a chance to verify it is what they expected and will bring closure to the request.

Mr. Promise’s desire to help is honorable and with these simple steps we can keep him from destroying himself.

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