The Chance for Glory

Some people view each assignment on a project as just another job in order to receive a paycheck. However, there are others that view each new assignment as a chance for glory. Glory-seekers assigned to project teams generally have the following characteristics:

  • They are motivated by recognition from their peers, and the results of their effort may be of secondary importance.
  • They pride themselves on creative thinking.
  • Regardless of what instructions are given, they will look for a solution that no one else has found in order to show their creativity.
  • They have a tendency to not follow instructions or protocols.
  • They will add into the solution often unnecessary bells and whistles, regardless of the cost, just to expose their creativity.
  • They have a strong desire to interface with the customer in hopes of getting customer recognition of their ideas.
  • They will only discuss their ideas when large audiences are present to maximize their chances of recognition.

Several years ago, I was unfortunate enough to have a glory-seeker on my project team. He had an undergraduate degree in engineering and an MBA degree. The company tried to find a parking place for him somewhere in the organization rather than firing him, but he had trouble keeping a job in several departments because of his inability to follow instructions. He finally ended up in the Chemistry Lab performing tests that were defined by specifications.

I was placed in charge of a project with several work packages that required testing in the Chemistry Lab. Having him assigned to my project did not bother me until the client stated that in the next customer interface meeting, they wanted the test results presented by the worker performing the tests, rather than the project manager. I instructed the worker to perform the tests according to the specifications, present the data at the interface meeting, and offer no additional comments.

During the interface meeting, the worker presented the data.  Then rather than sitting down, he said to the client:

“I do not know why you wanted the testing according to outdated specifications. Let me show you a new test I developed that will provide more meaningful results.”

The client was furious in thinking that we were spending their money foolishly. I explained to the client that the worker’s comments did not represent company opinion.

Sitting in the audience was my project sponsor; he processed the worker’s termination paperwork in less than an hour.  Glory-seekers can cause irrevocable damage, and you must try to identify them during the project staffing process.

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