I’m going to begin by talking about the individuals that make any project happen, whether it’s the employees of your same company or the contractors and sub-contractors that are necessary to the project’s scope. I ran into a situation where we needed a specific trade provided by a specific contractor and that need was dire. For starters, he wanted in, and we wanted him there but there was some legal paperwork that proved to be a hurdle. It took every bit of a long week but afterwards, all was in place and we had the green light to get him working on the project that is currently running round the clock, seven days a week.
After everything was in place, he told me he wasn’t available until after the weekend. I thought: “What? I just fought to get you on the job site and now you’re telling me you can’t make it?” I had work outlined for him for over a week now and all of the sudden he can’t be there. I pressed a little harder and he pressed back: “I can’t be there”. I never asked why, I just listened, accepted and resigned myself to find another way to get us through the weekend.
I can’t say that I gave that contractor the right to go take care of family business because if I pressed, he would probably would have told me “too bad” and that following week we might not have had him at all. But rather, I found another way. It turned out that the reason the contractor couldn’t be there was because his son was playing the lead in a local theater production and family was coming in to be a part of the special moment. I didn’t find this out until later that weekend so when he finally arrived the following week, I paused in the action long enough to ask how it went and that I was happy to hear of his son’s success. His exuberance at making the time for his family showed in his performance that week and since then, he’s been after our to-do list with some serious ferocity.
When there seems to be no answer, that’s when you dig deeper and find an answer. One will always present itself; you have to look for it though and it takes effort. I have yet to run into an incident where there was no other way; there is always a way. The people who put a project management in that position put them there for a reason, to find a way to get the project done no matter the obstacle but it should not be at other people’s expense.
Translated into everyday life, we need to make time for the things that are important. Making time for the things in life that really matter like family will result in a more rewarding experience with the things in life that matter a little bit less, like the project. There are a lot of project managers out there that feel they already practice what I’m talking about, but there are a lot more employees on that same project that know otherwise. I’ve been on both sides of a project so I feel confident in saying: think about what you’re doing for your team members, if you think you’re doing enough, you’re probably just scratching the surface.