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Working Through Adversity

As I reflect upon 2013 I remember how the year began. I was having trouble with a new manager and the highly visible Program I was working on was troubled. A new Program Director was assigned and I had an opportunity for a fresh start. It was not easy. I remember being asked if I wanted to remain on the program. I eagerly informed my new Program Director that I was completely on board and ready to help turn the Program around.

Staying Focused

As you progress as a project manager you will learn the importance of developing thick skin. You cannot internalize the negative comments that comes your way when folks run for cover from a struggling effort. Many times this is easier said than done. You need to focus on the work at hand and what you need to do to turn it around. Personally, I am also a person of faith which is the cornerstone of all of my abilities to succeed.

Look for Your Chance to Shine

As I worked with the new Program team and program structure I worked to gain the confidence of my new management team. I stayed focused and I worked hard to get the job done. I assessed my personal allocation and requested my workload to be adjusted to allow more time to work on this Program. I wanted to sharpen my focus for this effort. Then I looked for my chance to shine. The QA team fell behind schedule with their testing. The schedule was approximately three weeks behind schedule and the Application Validation milestone was in jeopardy of being missed. One morning I was called into a meeting with the QA Manager, the QA Director and my Program Director. The QA team expressed their frustrations about the progress of the QA efforts and the QA Director turned to me and said you are the project manager, what do you think we should do! This was my chance to shine. I immediately proposed a plan on the spot to secure dedicated resources from various technical disciplines and recommended extended “War Room” meetings. These meetings were held daily for an average of 2 to 4 hours a day were the QA defect list was reviewed with the application owners and the technical team I secured (networking, server engineering, database etc). If you were an application owner and your application was on the defect list, you were required to ensure you had someone representing your team to work to resolve your applications defects. I made sure I had the approval of senior management for this approach including our Steering Committee through my Program Director.

Getting It Done

With this new process and a core technical team mostly dedicated to resolving the defects reported which were addressed during the “War Room” meetings we accelerated our defect resolution process. As a result we completed the QA Validation effort on schedule! So here is my advice when facing adversity:

  • Ignore the noise
  • Stay focused on the job at hand
  • Have a plan
  • Ready yourself for success. Make any necessary changes to place yourself in a position to succeed
  • Secure senior management support
  • Look for your chance to shine
  • Get it Done!