Saturday, March 27, 2010

Afraid of giving estimates

It is amazing how many project plans there are out there that have published dates and the project manager will tell you that the team will not give them estimates.  If there are no estimates, how do we have a date?

Here is a simple fix for when you feel people will not give you estimates.  Simply ask them why!  This  honest approach will catch some off guard, but it will open a dialogue that may break down some barriers.

In my seminars and work with clients, I will ask many team members why they will not give estimates.  Here are some common responses:

- "I am afraid I will be held to it."
- "I am not sure what I am estimating."
- "I don't know what else may be asked of me during the time that I am supposed to be doing this work."
- "I won't really know a real estimate until I get started."

Each of those responses can be worked through.  To really be great at project management, you must earn the trust of your team.  They must know that whatever information they give you is going to benefit them, not work against them.  There seems to be quite a bit of mistrust towards the project manager.  A honest conversation can remove many of these fears or doubts and at least getting you and your team on the right page.

If they are truly unsure, walk them through PERT (Best Case, Most Likely, and Worst Case) estimations.  Then apply formulas or select where you think it will end up.  This will give them an opportunity to present a range of estimates and will give you the opportunity to actually have an idea of a true estimate.  Honest conversations really work!

Be safe out there!


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