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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jerks at Work (Revisited)

A book was written not long back entitled "The No A**holes Rule". In it, the author - Robert Sutton -discusses how "A**holes" a.k.a. "work jerks" can cause major disruptions in the workplace. The author  defines work jerks as "people who pick on those beneath them and leave others feeling belittled and sapped of energy. They use their power to schmooze those above them and beat down those beneath them. Much of the rest of their time can be spent bullying their peers".

My takeaway from the book is that jerks at work have a negative impact on the bottom line. They always cost organizations more than they are worth, and they cause upheaval that is harmful to individuals as well as the organization they work for.

What can we do when confronted with jerks on our projects? When possible we should avoid and ignore them. We can also look for ways to work around their influence and create partnerships with others that are willing to help. If somebody believes falsely that being a jerk will get them to the top quicker, there isn't much you and I can do about it. One thing is certain, we don't ever want to emulate their behavior. Jerks are poisonous, they are detrimental to project progress, and the value they sometimes create is erased by the disruption they cause.

Jerks almost always know they are jerks. They don't believe in Win/Win, they believe in Win/Lose (they must win, others must lose). Jerks are self centered, have large egos, and we aren't going to change them.

Project Management Rule: Project managers have to get the job done in spite of work jerks.

As project managers, we must learn to work with all types of people and get our projects completed on time and on budget in spite of them and their behaviors.  Remember, when confronted by a jerk be patient and respectful. Kill them with kindness. Don't forget that jerks can have influence over your project and career, and they occasionally have good ideas. There biggest flaw is they lack good character.

Project Management Rule: Work jerks don't subscribe to lofty ideas like fairness, cooperation, self-discipline, or integrity. 

They are reactive, many times "enemy-centered", and concerned about defending their desires and rights.

The bottom line is that work jerks lack emotional maturity. One definition of maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. Companies and organizations need to do a better job of screening for jerks during the hiring process. They need to know that studies have shown work jerks cost them more then they produce. Organizations don't need people in a leadership or any position for that matter that have questionable character, a win/lose work ethic, and a Scarcity Mentality.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Project Teams Members Need These Things

Project team members will perform at their peak when they:

Clearly understand and embrace the project's goals

Understand clearly the expectations put upon them

Understand how success will be measured

Understand the expectations of the project manager and sponsor

Believe their concerns will be listened to and addressed

Believe the project manager and sponsor are 100% committed to the success of the project

Understand that constructive, open, and free flowing communication is appreciated and welcome

Know they will be recognized and rewarded for their achievements

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Don't Try to Please Everyone

As we manage our projects, we need to remember to spend the bulk of our time working with our advocates and supporters, not answering or arguing with our critics. If you say you don’t have critics on any of your projects than I say you probably aren't pushing hard enough, and that means you probably aren't a very good project manager. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

Trust and Leadership

I was reading the book "The Truth About Managing People" today and thought I would post a couple of excerpts from the book about leadership.  The link to the book is at the end of this posting.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you manage people, or are a project manager.

In regards to leadership, the book states, "When we trust someone, we assume they'll act honestly and truthfully and be reliable and predictable.  We also assume they won't take advantage of our trust.  Trust is the essence of leadership because it's impossible to lead people who don't trust you. "

Some quotes from the book to gain the trust from others....

Be open

Be fair

Speak your feelings

Tell the truth

Show consistency

Fulfill your promises

Maintain confidences


I think this is a great book.  Enjoy!