Timothy Johnson Photo in Header

« And a one... and a two... | Main | Book 'em, Danno »

God's Little Chew Toy

What do you Tn_puppies081404034cropado with people who seem to have a dark cloud perpetually hanging over their heads?  The ones who seem to be plagued with misfortune?  Where do you draw the line between sensitivity to individuals and the need for Carpe Factum?  WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN JOB IS ON YOUR PROJECT TEAM?

I've had project team members who have experienced deaths in the family, car troubles, house troubles, kid troubles, spouse troubles, pet troubles... all in the course of a few business days or weeks.  As people, we interact with our environments.  Stuff happens to us.  Some of it is a consequence of our own poor choices.  Some of it is just nasty coincidence.  As project managers, we need to balance that understanding of things that happen with the passion to accomplish our goals.  We build in assumptions to our plans, and build contingencies for risks, but when and how do we make the decision that enough is enough?

The key questions to ask when faced with "God's Little Chew Toy" (OK, OK, I understand that I risk a lightning strike from use of that term):

  1. Are there other people who can fill in for the GLCT on your team?
  2. Is there anything fishy about the GCLT's claims (i.e., are they real or are excuses and cover-ups being made)?
  3. How good of a performer is the GLCT?  (Let's face facts... we provide A LOT more latitude to people who are high performers and get caught in a round of bad luck than we do to the WUHOTS of the world... )
  4. What are the impacts of the GLCT's woes to the project and to the other team members?

It's all situational.  I know.  It's been 15 years since my dad and I were both diagnosed with cancer within months of each other.  I survived; he lost his battle.  I was grateful that I had people providing me with a lot of latitude at that time, and it's affected how I treat the GLCTs on my team.  Just thought I'd throw this out and see what some of your thoughts were.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference God's Little Chew Toy:


Michael Wagner

George Will once wrote, "if being miserable make you happy, be miserable." From my experience the miserable don't make great project team mates. The situational analysis of your posting is the best bit of wisdom I've seen. Thanks for raising this very relevant issue with balance. I love it when project managers display their humanity!

Mike Sansone

I often hear people say, "Give me the patience of Job." To which I reply, "Yeah, but are you prepared for the trials of Job?"

Great tips on how to handle GLCTs. Especially # 3. We shouldn't treat unequal circumstances equally.


First, I need to address your post on WUHOTS... I have never laughed so hard... I thought I was the only one who noticed them... for years I've been thinking "Is it just me that feels this way, am I wrong about feeling this way?" My experience with the WUHOTS of my life has been that they became that way through knowing the right people, looking the right way, talking the talk and somehow nobody noticing that they don't walk the walk. I just love that I'm not alone on those thoughts anymore.
Secondly, I am definately a person with little empathy when it comes to team members not stepping up to the plate...and at times I understand life throws you things that make you lose your focus, and you have to go deal with it before you can be productive. However, it is all dealt with on a circumstantial basis with me... how many times does this person have an issue?, is it social or medical?, are they easily replacable?, and ultimately how much have they given to me and the company that I owe them at least this day off?... none of them are good thoughts and I always struggle with the "am I being a good person" part of it, however I need to remind myself, especially as a sensitive female that "business is business" but I can't help but look at all sides of the coin before making the decision.
That's a touchy subject... glad you put it out there.


Mike W. - we project managers sometimes forget our humanity in the pursuit of getting things done. In the end, we're all human.

Mike S. - I agree that the book of Job in the Bible is one of the most telling "business fables" around - imagine how different our workplaces would be if that were required reading along with books like "Good to Great"???

Lucia - always enjoy reading your input. Glad the WUHOT commentary brought you a good laugh... and it's definitely not just you. You are so right about the situational nature of this issue. And it is a sensitive one that needs to be handled with balance. Thank you for raising the points you did; they are all great additions.


Situational = Can't write this into policy

Single parents will look at each other knowingly after reading this post. Those of us who've gotten through it have a lot more compassion for what you're calling GLCT. One of my lessons was to consciously focus on building my value to the team. My sick days have to count for both me and my kid, and I probably will exceed the norm (actually, I contract at the moment, which is both better and worse ;-). So I work my butt extra hard, initiate, problem-solve, innovate, catch dropped balls for others... whatever I can do to head off the times my son will wake up sick in the middle of the night, right before an important deadline. This and other strategies has worked for me. My boss and clients know I'm for real, and committed to the success of the project.


nice picture thank you and have a nice day 12/19/07 love kayla

The comments to this entry are closed.

Like What You're Reading? Buy A Book

subscribe to feed

  • Click the button for the free RSS feed. (What is RSS?)

    Or get the feed in your email. Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow Me!

Search Carpe Factum

  • Google

    carpe factum
Powered by TypePad