Some ways inadequate access to key people manifest itself…

Some common ways for inadequate access to key people to manifest itself:

  • Managers are expected to speak for their employees in cases where they – the managers – don’t really understand the details of the employees’ work.
  • Middle management is expected to understand the thinking of upper management.
  • Especially (but not exclusively) in larger companies, project team members are chosen precisely because they are not key people. (Manager One to Manager Two: “We’ll need someone to represent your group in this project.” Manager Two [silently]: “Yikes! With all we have on our plate? I can’t afford to lose anybody…especially Shirley…Lord! What if they want Shirley?…I know…I’ll give them the kid…he’s pretty useless anyway…” Manager Two [out loud]: “I guess Henry would be your best bet. He’s already learned everybody’s job and he can always come to me if he’s stuck.” Sometimes it’s worse than that. Sometimes your project is the long hoped-for opportunity to get rid of somebody.)
  • A key person is excluded for political or personal reasons. (“If Sam gets on this team, we’ll never get anything done.” Or, “We can have Mike or Linda, but you know we can’t have both. Those two never agree about anything.” Or, “This is our chance to do something about those idiots in Customer Service. By the time they find out what we’re doing, they won’t be able to interfere.”)
  • The correct person is assigned but is unable to give enough attention to the project. Sometimes they’re told to lay off some of their regular work on others, but won’t or can’t (key people are usually key people for good reasons). Sometimes adjusting their workload isn’t even tried. It is not uncommon for a team to have to work without a key member for hours or even days at a time, then finally get access to them only to learn that they have to redo much of the work in the key person’s absence.
  • Consultants are expected to already know how a function operates – or should operate. (“We do not have time for this. Let’s go out and find an expert.” Or, “Just because Joe’s department has been running that way for twenty years doesn’t mean it has to keep on running that way. We’ve already hired the people who implemented Amalgamated Behemoth. What could be so wrong with how they do it? Better not tell Joe for a while, though…”)


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