b-school, Business, Management, MBA, Project Management, Thoughts

Enraging a contractor (a.k.a. may it be better for your career not to care about what you decide?)

Today I enraged a contractor because I postponed a meeting to September and they are in a hurry for a decision.

Let me explain it further, they need a decision on something quick. But we don’t have the information to make the decision.

Yesterday I had a meeting with the communications group. There we talk about communications and related systems and we decide if projects can be executed the way contractors propose or we need to change them. When we decide for a change, then we justify our decision and we ask for new analysis to evaluate the impact on costs and deadlines. Then, with the whole analysis done, and alternatives pondered, we reach the final decision.

This contractor knew I was having a meeting with the communications group and approached me the day before telling me that they can do the changes we have requested but that will cost us an additional 700.000€. It would help them if I talked to our peers and tell them if that could be assumed or not. Of course it would!

But I didn’t agree on that. First the information, then we analyse it, make changes to the project if necessary and then, and only then, we evaluate if the cost is realistic and worth assuming or not. Sometimes if we see that a contractor is too high on cost, we can even decide not to execute that part and give it to a different contractor. That way a contractor can also loose a game if pushing too hard.

But after waiting two months for the study I’m not going to provoke a meeting before even having the information. There’s no way I’m going to do that. Or try to make a compromise or decision over ambiguous information. No way.

So I just decided to tell them. They got very annoyed, they see, from their point of view, that they need the decision now, so they try to pressure as much as they can. Fortunately they cannot do anything because, right now, there’s not even a proposal over the table.


But, that’s my reflection, is that good management practice? I think that a meeting shouldn’t be done unless it can be effective. And I don’t think there are the conditions for an effective meeting here. So I decide not to do it. It’s my say.

But, could it be that I like to be in control and I’m simply punishing them for not having done their part of the bargain? There are still some days left before people start disappearing for holidays. If they send me the information right now it still could be done. (At least I’ll try if they do that, I’ve already seen them move quickly under pressure, so it would be worth it anyway).

What would a good politician do? Well, he’d make the meeting anyway, not enrage anyone, and he would hold a completely useless meeting, maybe one that he wouldn’t even attend (I could send someone else too). And the decision wouldn’t be made until September anyway… or he would simply step back and let others make that foul decision with incomplete data (and other people’s money).

I hate wasting my time in useless meetings. But that way people is happier with you. I’ve seen many guys make a career out of this. (And skyrocket because of it). But that means to me something like giving up my own values.

But I can’t do it because I care about the decision, about the outcome for the project. I think I have to give my best to it.
Am I lying to myself? Am I just wasting my chances? Am I doing the right thing? Any thoughts? 😉


2 thoughts on “Enraging a contractor (a.k.a. may it be better for your career not to care about what you decide?)

  1. I agree with you. Any meeting without any written proposal on the table is a waste of time. Even if the meeting is just a brainstorming there should be some kind of written directions.

    The few times I have had managerial duties I imposed the practice of preparing and submitting reports beforehand. Otherwise the topic would not be included in the meeting. By doing this (i) meetings when faster tan before; and (ii) it acted as a filter against crazy or unfeasible ideas.

    If they submit the required information and there is some time to analyze it… well…probably you should act as a politician 😉

  2. Thanks for the comment David.

    That’s what I’m planning to do. If they comply, and now they have a stronger motivation to do so, I will do my best to accomodate the meeting as soon as possible. My goal is the best completion of the project, not any other, and there are moments to ask, and moments to give too 😀

    Best regards

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