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The Luck of The Irate

St_patricks_dayIt is Saint Paddy's Day.  Day to wear green, watch parades, drink beer, and pretend that everybody is no more than a generation removed from hopping off the boat from Dublin.

But how green is your project manager?  (And no, I'm not talking about St. Patrick's festivities.)  Are your team's antics making him or her physically ill?  When should a good project manager get involved to help cure the team?

I once knew a PM who was - at best - a "hit and run" manager.  He would get blindsided by conflict (which he would have known about if he were paying attention), get half of the story (whatever made it through his dense perceptual filters), go out, yell at people, and think he had solved the problem.  When the "rest of the story" would surface, he'd end up doing damage control (a lot more work than if he'd just listened up front).

The Tao of Project Management Blog had a great post last year about these kinds of incidents.  Its author, John Carroll (ironically from the UK, neighbor to Ireland), had these wise words to share:

The wise project manager does not interfere with the work of the team unless all else has failed. Delicate facilitation is the way not sudden intervention. By using a sudden intervention the work of one or more members of the team is cast aside and they will feel violated. The team will be weakened and what may, at the time feel like a victory, is actually a failure.

My former PM could have used some of this knowledge.  But oh well, he's still wiggling his way through projects and charming clients into thinking he knows what he's doing.  Then he bullies those less experienced into thinking what goes wrong is their fault.

There's a lot to be said for the finer art of facilitation as opposed to going into a conflict like a bulldozer on a steroid overdose.  Maybe the "luck" of today belongs to those who really are nice (with or without beer), can listen well, and are able to work and play well with others.


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