How Much Excuse am I Allowed

This is one of the things that’s been on my mind and not allowing me to sleep tonight. I’ve often heard it said “don’t give excuses, take responsibility” (or give solutions, or make plans, or whatever). And this makes sense for the most part. I feel guilty if I make excuses for things these days for some reason, and end up taking responsibility. For example, if something goes wrong and someone asks me about it, I don’t say “well, the cat jumped on my foot”, I say “I’ll make it right” (or whatever). But I want to know when I’m allowed to make excuses? There has to be some point where you’re blamed (or questioned) about actions that may not be your fault when you don’t have to fall on the sword but can point a finger of blame to someone else. Ok, maybe blaming someone else isn’t what is should be done, solutions need to be given, but as an example. Lets say you’re told you’re not doing job X properly. This is true, but you’re not doing it properly because person A won’t answer your emails and person B is never around to answer questions. What’s the right tact to take? Says “you’re right, I’ll do better” and hope that this is accepted, or somehow work in that they’re right but it’s for reasons A and B.

In a somewhat related note, one of our support people got all pissed at me today for (go figure), not doing my job right. I’m still new to this whole project management thing and quite frankly seem to be failing at it. Now is this where I’d add the reasons why I’m failing at it, the lack of someone to answer some questions, the lack of feedback except when something goes wrong enough that someone gets pissed, or do I just just leave it at “I’m failing at it” (or the more positive version which I prefer “I’m going to be getting a lot better at it soon.” It’s not that I don’t know what to do, the entire concept of it’s pretty simple, guide a team of people to accomplish a common goal. The problems I’m having is the people that used to do it were doing it for a lot longer than 6 months, I have no project management or management training or experience, everyone’s too busy to mentor me or guide me and while I have gotten some guidence, the way that some people work is completely different than how other people work.

But I don’t want to wallow about woe is me. I’m reading a book on organization, I’ve taken it upon myself to get mentoring advice from a project manager who is working in the company on contract in a completely different area, and am taking a course on personal development and work effectivness at the end of the month. I’m not doing nothing, but I end up just looking at this HUGE pile of projects I have, and when I do a mental shift from “get the software installed” to “project manage the install of the software”, that mountain doubles because I haven’t been doing the proper management work of scheduling and so on, so it looks like there’s that much more to do. Couple that with the support person I rely on for many things being PO’d (making me less likely to bombard them with questions which will probably make me look even less competant), and you have a recipie for sitting up at 12:30 and not being able to sleep.

4 Comments on “How Much Excuse am I Allowed”

  1. You’re doing everything right – what you need to still do is, when confronted, say that this is what you’re doing; you’re a new project manager, and it should be expected that you’re not going to be as slick as someone who’s been doing it for a decade.
    Training yourself is great – but I’m glad you’ve signed up for a course as well. I’d suggest also attending an organizational management course in addition to the one you’ve already signed up for.

  2. Hey I am in the same boat as you. What is the book you are reading and is it helpful?

  3. The book is the Covey book ‘7 habits of highly organized teens’. The teens book was recommended to me as a more readable book, and wasn’t as much oriented towards CEOs and high up muckity mucks as the ‘… organized people’ book. Not everything in there applies so far of course (my folks aren’t causing me grief and I don’t have grades to worry about), but it seems pretty down to earth 🙂