HAVING THAT CONVERSATION
Recently, my husband and I were recapping our work days and I mentioned a project where the team is full steam ahead although (with my 20+ years of experience), I can see that the approach is backwards and the deadlines are unrealistic. My husband asked why is it again (on yet another project) that I can forecast these downstream issues and others cannot. But it isn’t just me, there are other smart people on the team and we have discussed collectively some of these challenges and blind spots by leadership, however the team marches on.
Why on project after project do we continue to propel ourselves toward deadlines that aren’t simply challenging, they are actually unobtainable? As a respected colleague of mine says, “there is no data to support this effort.” He means by using simple math: the number of people vs. hours of effort vs. hours in this time period, this work will not be completed. How many projects (and leaders) march on because the organization can’t or won’t do this math.
But is that the real problem? Not enough time or manpower? Those are the byproducts of a bigger problem, team members unwilling to have that tough conversation with their leader. It is human nature not to want to put yourself in the line of fire from your boss, but my view has always been the opposite. As a leader, would I want someone to tell me now, at the start, that this project is not correctly aligned (resources, timing, etc.) or would I want them to wait until the failure point for someone on the team to say that “there was no data to support this effort”?
Leaders assemble project teams to live in that day-to-day details that they do not have the bandwidth to live in themselves. This means there has to be clear conversations from project team to leadership on the realities of the project status. In my experience, more often than not I do not see this communication happening, yet it is critical for employees, project teams and leaders to successfully bring home a project.
Do you feel you can have that critical conversation with your leadership about a significant issue you are faced with? If not, contact me. In 10 minutes I can identify why you and your management can’t have that honest conversation and what you can do to change that experience.
And yes, I have been the one who has gone to leadership to have that tough conversation. The outcomes of course vary, but I have never had a leader say “I wish you would have never told me.”