Projects with 31st of December deadlines should be started well in advance of the holiday vacation time crunch. To most this is blatantly obvious. Some of our peers, however, act surprised that Christmas comes on December 25th every year and that most people take time off around that time. (Some folks take a LOT of time off!) I was astonished by the number of messages I received on 12/27 regarding projects with deadlines of 12/31.
There is an ancient fable that illustrates this situation: The Ant And The Grasshopper.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am firmly in the camp that believes that ALL of IT is one team, and we all succeed or fail together. And to get even more macro, the entire company stands or falls as one. So, yeah, though it might seem otherwise, I AM a team player.
But what does that say about the person who hasn't managed their
projects properly and are now looking for you to bail them out? Does
that make them a good team player? How is the greater team helped by someone who doesn't properly manage projects with cross-team dependencies? Or, at the least, ask for help prior to crunch time? Resources have to be diverted, which then impacts quality and timeliness of on-track projects.
A crisis on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part?
Now, don't be a jerk about it, but, as a manager you're going to have to decide how much you can assist at this late point in time. The right thing to do, of course, is to help your fellow human being. There are plenty of metaphors equating the corporate world as a brutal jungle, but I hope that your workplace isn't a Darwinian struggle for survival.
There is a corollary to the section title above: Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. The bottom line is that you shouldn't get into this situation in the first place. Plan for contingencies. Look at a calendar when you are planning a project schedule. If YOU are the one that has run out of time it's always better to admit
that you're not going to complete the task(s) at hand on time.
I am not claiming that I'm covering new ground with this post. I'm merely describing a management anti-pattern that seems to be popular in some organizations.
This is part of a larger series of planned posts: Management Nuggets