A valuable team member feels very passionately about a specific risk to your project. You agree that it might be a risk, but you don’t think it is likely to happen or if it does happen, you don’t think it will have a significant impact on your project. What do you?
The above scenario was recently the topic of a lively classroom discussion. There were two strong opinions driving the conversation:
1) You advise the team member that they are not authorized to perform additional research into this matter. You note the risk but you document it as being either not likely to occur or not impactful if it does occur (or both), add it to your watch list and move on.
2) Seeing that your team member feels strongly about this potential risk you grant them a specific time limit to perform some research and report back to you.
If you follow the textbook approach (#1 above) you are technically correct, but you run the risk of damaging your relationship with this team member. If you do not follow the textbook approach (#2 above) you might put your schedule and budget at risk – you are now paying a team member to perform work that you do not consider absolutely necessary.
Why would you ever choose approach #2; perhaps to build a relationship? If this team member feels strongly enough about this risk and you trust them, maybe you should let them perform some additional research. This would not be true for every team member. You certainly would not allow this for a team member with a track record of wasting time on frivolous pursuits.
Some of you would NEVER risk violating the textbook approach to managing your projects and you do very well. Some you frequently ignore the textbook approach to run your projects and you do a great job too. How can this be? It comes down to style and situational leadership. Everyday you are faced with risk and decisions. Everyday YOU decide how to handle those risks. As you gain experience you gain confidence and you know where you will draw the line.
What is the correct answer? The correct answer is, you make the call, you take responsibility and you learn from your results. The correct answer is the approach that allows you to lead yourself and your team to success. For each of us the answer might just be a little different.