I appreciate all the work you guys put in preparing for this maintenance window. Management was very happy with the results
So, what did you tell them, Rodney?
Same as always. I told them I did all the work and you guys were a bunch of Screw Ups.
. . .
Rodney, you’ve made huge strides with the monthly maintenance work. It’s really made a difference having you dedicated to the project.
Thanks. But actually the team has done a phenomenal job. They’ve really done a tremendous amount of work. I just point them in the right direction. They really are the ones that made it happen.
The first conversation happened with my team, the second with my supervisors. Both groups knew that my version of events wasn’t entirely accurate. Sure, I did a lot of work to prepare for the maintenance windows. But, I had no direct control over the engineers. The only way I could get them to do a stellar job for me, was to convince them that I had talked them up to management so much that they were going to have a hard time living up to expectations.
The team understood that I wasn’t going to take credit. They laughed when I claimed I was going to take all the glory for me. It was out of character enough that there wasn’t any question.
But why? Why even have this rule? Why not just give credit where it’s due and take credit when you have honestly earned it?
Several weeks ago I wrote that Company Loyalty Only Ever Goes One Way. And I still believe that. But, personal loyalty goes both way. As a Project Manager I have no direct control over anyone. But, I need things from everyone. Sure, at some corporate level they have to help me, but as I explained in Playing Corporate Basketball, you can get a lot more accomplished and get things done quicker if there’s a certain element of personal loyalty.
And loyalty is a funny thing. You first have to give it in order to get it. My virtual team has to understand that I have their best interests at heart. They have to believe that I’m going to go into the senior management briefings and not take their credit. Once they are convinced of my good intentions, they will start to live up to them. They will want me to look good because I will make them look good.
In turn I want the engineers to look good because it will ultimately make me look good. And the more I give away credit to the team while talking to senior management the stronger leader I appear to be.
I believe that everyone is motivated by self interest. The irony of business, and really any relationship is that the more you promote your team, the better it makes you look.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.