Project Management Kryptonite
Ever have one of those mornings where you feel like things are going great, no flaming emails on your smart phone as you start your day, your project is on target and the sun is shining bright in the sky? All of a sudden, bam! As you walk into the office, no one wants to make eye contact, people turn away from you in the hall and as you unpack your laptop you see the flashing red light on your desk phone indicating voicemail. Your day just went from feeling like Superman to feeling like Superman with Kryptonite around his neck.
You check your voicemail and find out there is indeed Kryptonite somewhere in the office! Kryptonite can be in the form of a resource challenge, deliverable missed, finance anomaly or something in that report you sent out to the “Global Heads” at 1:15am this morning.
Per the voicemail you just listened to, it turns out the report you sent out had mis-information in the financials section. You spend an hour looking for the issue. You have been using an “expert’s” spreadsheet and discover the error is not on your calculations, but rather the calculations in the spreadsheet.
At this point, your coffee is already cold and the plastic wrapped bagel you picked up from the convenience food counter on your way in is no longer appealing. You have a couple of options here. The first is to take a deep breath. The second is to take another deep breath.
What you do next will determine how long that Kryptonite will hang around your neck: You have two viable options (three, if you count not doing anything an option).
Option 1: Call out the error to the Global Heads and save the day, ala Superman. Send a brief email stating why your original submission was right and the “expert” spreadsheet was riddled with errors. You may even refer to the author, or expert, as Lex Luthor to keep with the whole Superman vibe.
This is the quick and easy route. You want people to know you aren’t incapable, and you want people to know Lex is not the expert everyone thinks. Sounds easy enough, however you just put your head on the chopping block for Lex to come after you and point out the smallest of your errors and re-establish himself as the expert at your expense. Your credibility, political savviness and perception by others of being easy to work with is headed down the drain.
Option 2: Correct the error in the spreadsheet, politely discuss the error with Lex Luthor and ask Lex to submit the communication that you both identified and resolved the error and let Lex remain the “expert”.
This option takes a little more effort on your part, but well worth it in the long run. Your job is not to point out other’s mistakes (well, maybe in a different role but not here with Superman), but to bring people together for achieving a specific goal, in this case submitting critical information in a report at 1:15am to Global Heads. You are also reinforcing your perception to others that you are easy to work with and you also reaffirm to yourself that you are able to work with others.
There will be times when Metropolis will turn against you and you’ll have to fight to maintain your hero status, especially as a Project Manager, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of others and you don’t want to give people a reason to come gunning for you. You’ll have plenty
of other opportunities for them to gun for you, especially if you are doing as good as Superman.