Thursday, April 28, 2016

If It's A Big Deal To Someone...

Going through my experiences and stories I realized I needed to add a new Morey's Law. As the title stated:

If It's a Big Deal to Someone... Then It's a BIG DEAL!

Thanks to Erin Morey

Once again, a lesson learned the hard way, so I'm hoping you will be able to avoid my pain. I was working with a project team on a project that was roughly $4 million and had a team of 8 people for the consultants and another 6-8 for the client. We worked with the client's team, and the client team had overall Project responsibility. 

Here's where the problem came in: For the last 8-10 years, my projects were typically at least $10 million and the project teams were located internationally; the smallest being 15 people. Also, I was the primary PM, rather than working within an organization as the secondary PM (more like team lead). Because of these things, I perceived the project I was responsible for as important, but no big deal. 

That was the mistake! 
The project was a HUGE DEAL to my team's upper management, as it was the largest contract they had ever landed. The management team was incredibly involved and wanted updates on the progress of the project on a nearly constant basis. I provided the updates, but perhaps not in the timely fashion they would have preferred. In addition, it wasn't until I received a write-up (my first and only so far!) that I realized my mistake. After the write-up, I buckled down and started delivering more consistently.

As a leader, a Big Deal to Someone IS a BIG DEAL for you! Leaders have to deal with perception AND reality. In this case the BIG DEAL was because of upper management, but honestly, a BIG DEAL to anyone on your team needs to be treated with respect and dignity. 

To do otherwise is to alienate your team and / or other stakeholders, which reduces your influence and your impact as a leader. Now, you may need to work to adjust the expectations and reactions, especially if something is not really a BIG DEAL. However, until you can successfully manage the expectations of why it isn't a BIG DEAL, then you have to treat it with the respect as if it is for that person.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

I honestly never really recovered with management because I did the work, but I hadn't treated their BIG DEAL like it was a BIG DEAL (until it was too late). I had created my own uphill battle, and like Sisyphus of Greek Mythology, I found myself pushing a hug boulder up a hill constantly, only to watch it roll back down. Except, rather than a vengeful deity creating the punishment, I had made it all by myself! 

Now in this case it was upper management, however this Law applies at every level. Clients, Vendors, outside Stakeholders and even team members can sabotage progress if they feel they aren't being listened to. Don't fall into this trap! If a stakeholder has a BIG DEAL (whether it's team member, management, or someone indirectly impacted by your decisions) you owe it to them to treat it like a BIG DEAL, otherwise you may find yourself in an uphill battle. So:

If It's A Big Deal to Someone... Then It's a BIG DEAL!

Thanks to Erin Morey

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