Project Management

Trust Is Critical, but Verification Is Still Important

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.

There’s a Russian proverb which, translated into English, means “trust, but verify.” Those of you who are old enough will remember that it became a common phrase in the 1980s when then U.S. President Ronald Reagan was taught it by one of his advisors and used it on several occasions in the context of nuclear disarmament discussions (with what was at that time the Soviet Union). Am I suggesting that your projects are akin to nuclear disarmament? Not quite (I hope), but there’s still a lesson there.

New project managers learn very early on in their careers that project success is dependent upon a strong, committed project team. Leadership is the most important aspect of project management, and the ability to create an environment where individuals come together, agree to collaborate, and form the strong bonds that define a team is evidence of that leadership. For that team development to occur, the team collectively—and each individual in it—must trust the project manager (and each other).

Similarly, project managers must quickly learn to trust their teams. PMs can’t do everything on the project, and they can’t try to micro-manage every task (or they will lose the trust of team members, who will feel that they themselves aren’t trusted).

Learning to trust others to do what’s needed can be one of the hardest …

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"Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric."

- Bertrand Russell