Chapter 18 - Project Review

Part 1

Story

"In the next step I want to tell you more about the project review", Dr. Rogers says and takes a swig of his coffee. "I'd like to tell you a story about this topic from another project.

'Control freaks don't give us space to breathe, they choke us!' I was pretty upset as I walked out of the project review meeting. I'd been expecting questions about project status and cost control. But those petty questions that my 'favourite' controller kept asking had really got my back up. It wasn't how the controller asked the questions that got me so angry, but the fact that they were completely trivial and took up so much time that the meeting had ended before the real challenges and strategy issues could be discussed. Another waste of time and more lost opportunities, I thought.
'What's the matter with him? Why's he behaving like that? I don't understand it. I feel so wound up,' I said to my colleague and mentor Jack. "I can see that", he answered. 'Listen Carl, you have to be much more patient with people like that! That kind of behaviour - control freak behaviour - is a sign of insecurity and probably fear. It's a problem for you because you're not insecure or afraid. Everything seems OK to you, so you're able to focus on strategy.' 'Exactly,' I said. 'So what do I do now?'
'Be a bit more patient, relax and try to find out why the other person is behaving like that. Think about it and try to put yourself in his position. What's he so afraid of? What's causing his lack of confidence?'
'Perhaps he's overwhelmed by it all?' I suggested. 'He may be,' Jack said. 'What else could be the reason?' 'Maybe he can't get the project facts in order or see the important connections?' 'Very good,' he said. 'What are you going to do?' 'Well, I think I ought to take him aside and explain the project objectives and the main processes to him again. I've already explained them, but I don't mind doing it again if it benefits the common cause - the project.'
'You could do that, but I don't think going over the facts again will help. I think he simply hasn't understood them yet and he probably wouldn't understand them if you explained them again. You might be too fast or direct for him. Why don't you let another colleague explain the project to him? Somebody who's familiar with it and might be able to present it in a different way.'
'That's a good idea! I know just the person. I think our QM officer is the perfect man for the job. Especially since he was initially so sceptical about the project.' 'Very good! Let him present the facts. I definitely think it'll help to clear up the situation. Keep me updated and don't forget to be more tolerant and patient towards people who aren't on your wavelength!'

John, as you can see, it is usually very helpful not to complain about your colleagues and judge their behaviour, but to ask: Why does this person behave exactly the way he or she does? How can I deal with this? As a project manager, you must not hold on to your viewpoint, thinking that it is the only right, but also allow alternative perspectives. You have to think about these things, which is why a project review meeting is important. Besides this soft skill, the following issues must be dealt with during the project review."