Be in control of your destiny, by getting out in front of issues and avoiding surprises.
As a manager, I want to know about the good news and the bad news. But don’t bring me surprises. Surprises indicate a lack of understanding and ownership of what you are responsible for.
This rule is no better illustrated then in cost forecasting. If your quantities, rates and costs continually move around. And this comes as a surprise to you, then it is a good indicator that you are not in control of your work. And keep in mind that a surprise $1 million profit, 1 month out from closing a project is still a surprise. Was it by luck or good management that you made money? Were you in control? Should we trust you with more money? You should plan for the unknown unknowns, but be transparent about any contingency.
Things go wrong, everyone understands that. But there is a difference between bad news and surprises. Bad news is owning your mistakes, owning the unknowns and having a plan to mitigate any loses. Having a plan to stop the bleeding. Telling someone bad news and this is the plan, is a whole lot better then surprise we are losing money and I have no idea how much or how to mitigate it.
When bringing bad news about the costs, have an understanding why your qualities increased or why the rate changed. Know what the worst case is if thins are kept the same – understanding the problem – and these are the changes we are making to bring the cost blow out back in – getting in front of the issue and controlling your destiny.
Give me good news, give me bad news. Just don’t give me surprises. No one likes surprises. Make your mistakes ones of ambition, not sloth – The Bold Mistake Instruction.
Check out the The Engineering Rule Book for the other rules.
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