Dealing with fools with tools: Have them document it
Following up a previous post on “fools with tools” I was recently asked what I would do if a team member does not want to use a standard tool or template, let it be, for example, a change request form or an issue table in a status report, for he/she does not see the value of doing so.
First of all, if you as a project manager created and introduced the tool and/or template you probably have done for a good reason. If a team member does not see the value of it there is an obvious information gap. Either the team member just doesn’t get it or you have not explained the need for the tool or template and the value which comes from them. Hence, before you blame anybody else ask yourself the question if you have missed part of the story by yourself.
If this is not the case, let’s hope this holds true for we are all good and effective project managers and leaders, you may want to consider the following option: ask the team member to leave a comment in the respective tool stating that he/she does not want to use the tool. Make sure that he/she understands that this form of documentation may be escalated. And that he/she will be held personally responsible if any new issues arise from non-compliance with standard project tools. Chances are that the team member will give in.
Sounds too easy? True, for as attractive as the second option looks at first sight, it does not resolve the source of the problem. Actually, there could be quite a few reasons for the behavior of the team member. He/she may have time management problems, does not know how to access or use the tool, is afraid of technology, or does not see the value of using it. You, as a leader, have to identify the root cause and face it. If you don’t do it, you become part of the problem for you are not exercising good leadership skills.
If all effort fails and the team member still does not use the respective tool and you cannot resolve the issue, it is time for escalation. Depending on the situation and organizational environment you can talk to the line manager of the team member or if you have the organizational authority to do so replace the team member with someone else. This may be the last resort. Still, if this is what it takes to lead your project to success, do it. Follow through. If you don’t, you are not doing your job, i.e., manage a project to success.