Unfulfilled Commitments (You’re Screwing Up!)

It drives me bonkers when one of the guys working directly under me fails in the simplest tasks.

These are not entry level employees or people who do not know what they are doing. These are seasoned veterans; the people I need to count on so I can focus on non-project related parts of our business.  And then, when I get a break and look through our company’s project management records, I discover they’re a mess.

To be honest, my normal reaction is to pick up the phone, have them come to my office, and close the door for a one-sided conversation.

And, I know that doesn’t work because the problem resurfaces again two, three, even six months later.

The problem I’m defining is one of accountability.

You are assigned a project, a budget, and staff to carry out the project. In the simplest terms, you need to finish the project using the assigned staff with some budget left over.  Not overly difficult, unless you get distracted and then wake up one morning to find the project is completed.  And, you have no idea where you are with the budget —which means you have spent twice the budget with no rational for what happened.

This problem is significant for two reasons. First, you are losing money, or at best losing profit.

Second and most importantly, you are setting the standard by which everyone else see your level of accountability.

Every employee with any level of responsibility is teaching someone else how to do their job. A lawyer is teaching a law clerk, a construction supervisor is teaching a foreman, a project manager is teaching a designer.  Accountability does not only go up the office hierarchy, it goes down as well.  And, those under the tutelage of a poor manager will become poor managers themselves, which exacerbates the management problems found within many companies.  The result is a culture of poor management.

Luke 18:28 begins to show us what the Bible says about accountability and management.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?   Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,

First, this verse demonstrates that the management of any task, big or small, is not new but has been around for centuries.

Second, it is the person in charge who is responsible to “count the cost.” Now this phrase has special meaning in the Christian world, but for our purposes it is the sum of all costs to complete the project.  Not just those costs directly related to the project, but the cost to the project manager to manage the project.  Specifically, the cost includes those distractions that may have taken you away from effectively managing the project.

Third, there are many watching and learning from the execution of each project. When the project failed, the project was not mocked, the project manager was.

What do we need to do to better manage our managers?

  1. Even if they are your best employees, they still need managing. Remember, you are also an example to your senior people despite your own years of experience.
  2. You cannot talk too much about the culture they are creating. Accepting bad business practices will permeate your business unless you meet it head on.
  3. Manage the “whole person.” What is the distraction keeping them from doing a better job of management? What can you do to remove or resolve that distraction? Do they have real management potential?
  4. Lead with your company values. If you have not published corporate values, do so. Use these values to lead your people.

As the senior leader of your business, your job is to not only be a management example and a leader, but to be a source of help. Even your senior-most staff will occasionally need your advice and support.

Remember, we are all working for the glory of God and good management is a reflection of His glory.