I’ve always hated control freaks. I’ve known and worked with quite a few. Maybe because of my experiences with them, I’ve always tried to resist the need for control.
But as a consulting project manager, it helps to be both a control freak and an order freak. I consider myself more of an order freak than a control freak, but they tend to go hand-in-hand.
Any consultant, especially a project manager, is accountable to the client and has to know what’s going on. So it’s important to be organized. If there are 15 open, high-priority issues for a project, you want to have an organized way of tracking the issues and knowing their status, in case you’re approached by the client who wants an update.
The need for control
When other people on your team are responsible for resolving all or part of those issues or are just working on project tasks, the need to know the status causes a PM to go into control freak mode. Her biggest fear is “what if the client asks me the status and I don’t know where it stands?”
The way I’ve gotten around that is to save reporting the status to the client for the weekly status meeting. I generally meet with team members in a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting where asking for issue or task status is fair game. The day before the weekly status meeting, I may even ask for more detail on that information outside of the daily stand-up.
Staying in the loop
That keeps me in the loop on a daily and weekly basis. If the client asks for an update on a non-status meeting day, I feel it’s acceptable to give them less detail than I planned for the weekly status meeting.
Albert Einstein was famous for saying “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I’d paraphrase that to say “Inflict as much control on your team as necessary, but no more.”
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and discussion.