What’s the Work?

“What’s the work?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Saul replied.

“You are trying to figure out how come every person you put in this role, underperforms,” I explained the question.

Saul shook his head.  “Look, it’s a project manager role.  They are supposed to handle things.  They get the estimate from the preconstruction department.  There is stuff they have to buy out, including subcontractors.  They have a project due date they have to back into.  How hard could it be?”

“Apparently, it’s harder than you think,” I nodded.  “For you, it seems easy, at least easy for you to spot when things aren’t going so well.  But, if every person you put in the role seems to fail, maybe the problem isn’t the person.  Maybe the problem is you.”

“I’ve been a manager at this company for seven years,” Saul seemed a bit prickly.  “Over the years, we’ve had some great projects.”

“Yes, but how many great project managers have you had?  And, the great projects, were they really that great, or do you only remember the ones that had a great margin already built in?”

“If you really have a beef with who we get as project managers, maybe you should talk to HR, they’re the ones who serve up the candidates.”

“I’m not talking to HR.  I am talking to you,” I said.  “I can’t hold HR accountable for the output of your project managers.  You are the one I hold accountable.”

Saul stopped.  His eyes looked up, but no answers there.  “If you are going to stare me down, where do you think I should start?”  It was a question, but with a chill of challenge in it.

“What’s the work?” I asked, for the second time.  “It’s all about the work.”

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