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Keep Your Project on Track with or without Help from Your Ace

Business is changing, but employees are not necessarily changing with them. Friction is created when the IT organization moves to transform into a service organization, but the old guard is not willing to transform with it. You might end up in a situation where your ace technical person is unwilling to help you execute your modernization project. In an article for TechRepublic, Mary Shacklett provides some tips for how to navigate this hostile situation.

Playing the Ace

In some cases, remedying the situation could be as easy as stroking the ace’s ego. You can articulate why that person is so valuable to the project’s success and offer opportunities for increased visibility to management in the project. However, some aces who are used to being in charge of everything they do may resist being part of your team; they do not like the idea of giving up control. There is not much that can be done about that in some organizations:

If you find that a star performer just won’t cooperate, especially if you are a new manager who has recently joined the company, go to your management superiors. Chances are that this uncooperative behavior on the part of your technical guru has already been encouraged by management’s not dealing with it, so your management may or may not support you. However, management will usually acknowledge that there is a problem. When I encountered the problem with the guru system programmer who refused to participate in the project I was managing, the response from my superiors was, “Yes, we know she is like that, but we don’t feel we can afford to lose or alienate her.”

If the ace refuses to cooperate and cannot be coerced by the business, then you are just forced to find someone else to help you. It could be the case that an ace is not necessarily required to complete the project; rather, it might just be more convenient if you had the ace. Thus, a more junior person might still be able to help you complete the project, but just not as fast. This should not be an issue if the business is already aware that you are working with this quirky handicap.

Nonetheless, Shacklett actually says to “plan to micromanage as needed,” which is a very seldom recommended thing. But she means it in the sense that, in organizations where technical skills are valued over management, you need to know that the people on your team are forwarding your goals and not just “forming allegiances” to their stubborn technical gurus. Business is a rough game, sometimes.

For additional thoughts, you can view the original article here: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-keep-a-project-on-track-when-top-performers-refuse-to-participate/

About John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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