Project Management

Delivering Difficult News

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

One day you may have to tell a colleague, a team member, perhaps even a friend that they are not the right person to lead a project or fill a key role that they might very much desire. Here are some leadership guidelines, based on recent personal experience, for handling such difficult resource changes the right way.

I knew today was coming — in fact, I’ve known it for a couple of years. It was inevitable. It was necessary. It was one of the worst days of my career.

Today I told a senior IT resource who had been the lead for every major initiative that his organization had undertaken over the past 15 years, that he wouldn’t be leading the new initiative that is being launched. He was devastated. This leading-edge, innovative project is one of the largest that the company has ever undertaken. It’s exactly the kind of project that he would want to lead. However, it’s also using technology that he’s not so familiar with, and it requires a more daring and risk-tolerant approach than he is capable of delivering.

At the same time, the organization has a new systems architect who deserves a chance to prove what he can do, and if he isn’t given the opportunity then he will likely leave and the organization will lose him entirely.

Sooner or later you will face a similar situation, and how you handle it can make all the difference …


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"Weaseling out of things is good. It's what separates us from the other animals....except weasels."

- Homer Simpson