3 Poor Decision-Making Issues Cripping Your IT Team (PART 2)

John Barker

Last week I started writing about poor decision-making skills that drag down IT departments.  The column was getting a bit long, so I decided to break it into two parts.  You can read these in any order.

A recap of why recognizing these behaviors in yourself or on your team is important.  Poor decision-making costs time and money to your company.  Team unity breaks down.  The blame game begins.  There will be a ton of re-work.  Cost and schedule overruns will be rampant.

If these behaviors are the norm, you will have high turnover.  Only the weakest performers will be willing to stay in an environment that is run like this.

Let’s dive into the second batch.

1.      Emotional Decision Making

We’ve all been around someone that wears their hearts on their sleeves.  This is a rollercoaster of emotions.  For someone like me that rides more in the middle (never too high, never too low) it can be very frustrating to work with someone that you never know how they will respond to any given situation.

I am going to avoid the person that projects anger all the time.  I’ve got plenty of examples of anger used in poor decision making.  This just wears everyone down.  I think we’ve all experienced this at one moment or another.

I want to focus on the insecure leader that is in a persistent state of worry.  The one that only makes a call at the last minute and then becomes a worry wart.

The company I was at was implementing a new project that we had never done before as an organization.  I had personal experience with this type of project.  There would be a lot of new technology and workflows that would need to be established.

It was not a forgone conclusion the company would win the work.  My team had listed out all of the requirements and tools needed.  It was getting to the point the potential client was going to award the contract, but it was also close to when their current contract was going to expire.  This was going to lead to a shorter than desired transition period.

We would be starting from scratch.

I tried to get approval to purchase the core SaaS (software as a service) product that would be the backbone of the solution so we could get the design phase going.  But I could not pull the trigger.  The main decision maker was afraid of spending any money unless we knew for certain we had one.

To put this in perspective, we were talking about a few thousand dollars in what was a multi-million-dollar contract. Cost of doing business in my mind.  We were also given plenty of signs that our company was going to win.

We won the contract. I believe we had 3-4 weeks before we were forced to go live.  This would be a 24-hour, 365 type of work contract.

The company leadership was afraid to push back on the new client at all.  During setting up the programs, my team was constantly faced with changes in the requirements.  New things kept popping up that were not part of the original specifications.

We also began bleeding time off the schedule.  As leadership was also agreeing to launch earlier and then inform me after the fact.  It was a day early.  Then two days early.  I believe we lost 4 days off the original launch date.

Typically, these types of contracts are set in stone.  Changes to scope are after the fact.

My team’s working days started at 10 hour days, turned to 12 hour days, turned to 16 hour days.

The closer we got to launch day the more insecure senior leaders were.

I found out they kept taking members away from working to get status updates.  Many times in a day, for 30 mins a pop.

The senior leadership team was making this worse.

My team was starting to wear that fear of “we aren’t going to make it” on their faces.  The same expression that other senior leaders (who weren’t helping the process) were evoking.

I finally had enough.

I told my team we are going to make it.  If someone comes to pull you away from work, ignore them and tell that person to come see me.

My team’s mood immediately improved.

I flatly told the other senior leaders to stop making changes, to stop messing with my team.  Get out of the way and we will successfully launch.

The cutover from the previous contractor’s tech system was to take place at midnight.

We finished a little after 9 pm that same day.

3 hours to spare.

And at midnight the cutover of the system was a success.

There were problems that crept in the first few weeks because of the abbreviated time we had to setup.  But the core solution worked.

This technology project did not have to go this way.

When you make a decision, do it with confidence.  Support the team doing the work.  Don’t hover over them and get them worked up.

Many junior employees feed off the emotional state of their leaders.  Be aware of the emotional state you are projecting.  It can make or break what you want to accomplish.

2.      The Know it All

There is nothing more irritating than being around a know it all.  They’ve seen and done everything.  And better than you ever could.

After you pick a path.  The decision has been made.  I like to get out of the way of my team.  I hired them for their expertise and domain knowledge.

It becomes a drag on productivity to begin questioning how every single task is going to be performed. It also becomes very frustrating for your team.   This begins down the micromanagement path.  The Know It All questions every minor detail.

Imagine needing someone with no experience in a specialized job to sign off on how each task is specifically to be executed?  It doesn’t work.  You hire a person with the knowledge and get out of the way.

The question in your mind should be Who can Do this? Not, How do I figure this out?

Know IT All’s typically become a bottleneck in productivity.

Delegate and support.

Follow their lead.

Final Wrap Up

Treat your team like professionals.

Don’t avoid making crucial decisions.

After a critical decision is made communicate it clearly and efficiently.

Trust your team to execute for the desired results.

Stick to the plan except if new information comes to light.

Show confidence in the direction you are moving in, not constant worry.

You don’t have all the answers.  No one does.  Accept the input from people that have been there and done it before.

Remain calm, even as pressure rises.  Your team feeds off your energy and emotional state.

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John Barker

John Barker

John has over 25 years of technology experience and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management & MBA.  He also holds CISSP and PMP certifications.

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