Project Management

Beware the ‘Diving Save’

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

Projects rarely feature feats of exceptional athleticism, but they can include examples of team members going “above and beyond” in order to either ensure success, or prevent catastrophe. Consider the person who worked through the weekend to deliver functionality that was needed for a client call, or someone who stayed up all night to finish a report needed for an executive briefing. It could be something that only a certain individual with a specific skill or knowledge could do.

The sports analogy is when the star player comes through in the clutch, or wins the match by exceeding already high expectations. But celebrating heroic feats in a business setting can be problematic.

First and foremost, you want to recognize and reward a person who puts in the extra effort. They did something unexpected, or unexpectedly well, and they deserve praise and even a reward for their time and energy. However, a good leader should avoid this situation in the first place; there should be no need for “diving saves” in projects. And in the long run, having too many of these saves can be a negative, rather than a positive. While it may turn out to be a good thing for the project or team in the short term, it can actually have the impact of preventing future accomplishment. A leader should be aware of the downsides of heroic acts, even as they recognize the person who saved the day.

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"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. "

- Bertrand Russell