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Sunday
Feb172013

PM Tip: Sometimes You Have To Pull An All-Nighter

This is the third in a series of Project Management tips derived from my experience building an enduring record as a Project Manager who leads business and systems projects from inception to successful completion.

PM Tip: Sometimes You Have To Pull An All-Nighter

As a Project Manager your credibility and integrity is perhaps the most crucial tool you have in your arsenal.

When times get tough on a project - and they will, if it is a project worth committing some of your career to - the ability of your client (the person/s sponsoring your project whether or not they are a client in a traditional sense of being someone you invoice) and your project team to trust you will often be the difference to getting through a challenge, or not.

Recently I committed to produce some critical project planning documents for a project - without factoring that the 4 days after the day I made the promise (a Thursday) were a long planned Friday to Monday family holiday during which I could not work - both in the sense of honouring a commitment to my family, and also I was holidaying in a location without power or internet so literally could not do the work.

The deadline for these documents was the Friday of what had suddenly become a short week for me. Especially as I had another client commitment, which included travel, for the Thursday and Friday of the week the documents were due.

I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. I made a promise I couldn't keep - while working a normal business day.

On the day I made the promise there was more than a week to go. But in reality I only had 2 days of normal business hours to do the work - which wasn't enough.

Maybe I could have reset expectations and pushed out the deadline as I had left myself too short a time to produce these documents - but the commercial reality was they needed to be produced when I had originally promised.

The only way through was for me to 'pull an all-nighter' - which I did.

On the Wednesday evening I worked until 4:30am on the Thursday and got the documents completed. I got to bed for about 1.5 hours then got up to catch my flight to meet the unrelated Thursday and Friday commitment.

I was exhausted - but I had honoured my promise.

The client (whom I subtly made aware of my 'all-nighter'!) now knows that when they receive a commitment from me I will do what it takes to honour my commitments.

And my project team know the same - and won't be surprised when I expect them to do the same.

The influence that flows from keeping my commitments will make me a much more effective project manager.

Sometimes You Have To Pull An All-Nighter!

Prior posts in this series:

  1. Intervene Early
  2. Look for Early Warning Signs

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