No man can serve two masters. Consultants can.

It could commonly occur, after a long time in a time & material project, that you are assigned not only to multiple projects, which is common, but also to multiple managers in the client’s team.

This is quite a dangerous situation for several reasons. In fact, these managers are likely to belong to the same group, thus competing each other for a prominent role. In case a resource is assigned them as shared, there are two possible strategies.

They could agree to properly manage the resource’s time, leaving her only those tasks they could not complete alone, and keeping the resource in a balanced workload level, optimizing performances level and duration.

Unfortunately, it is sufficient that just one of the managers “overuses” her assigned portion of time, that all the other managers will be forced to assign him as much work as possible. In fact, fair play in this case will only harm “fair” managers.

In fact, they will be busy with a portion of the workload, while other competing peers will be free to do other things, as their whole workload is assigned to the shared resource. Inevitably, they will be forced then to drop the load to the resource as well. It doesn’t matter if this will cause the resource to be overloaded and consequently underperform. In fact, a stressed resource will provide poor and partial work to all team members, somehow rebalancing their competition, and “democratically” underperform.

In case you are the shared resource, I have some recommendations for you:

1)   avoid escalating. In fact, you will force the whole team to see you as ineffective, either the boss and the others.

2)   evaluate  the most long term activity and the one that it’s easier for you to keep at a constant good level. Once you find it, keep it always as almost completed, so that you have a base level of work that is never postponed or completed approximately. This is not favoring some work or manager, it’s favoring what can produce a measurable and prompt deliverable.

3)   stop being as much precise as you can. Once anything is “good enough” for being delivered, just deliver.

4)   Do not panic or take decisions during the work peak. It normally occurs that high critical periods normally drop after a while.

5)   Do not complain or apologize for what you couldn’t do because you had no time, but remark all the tasks (micro and macro) you have completed and your success.

6)   Use the experience to grow. Do not concentrate on quantity, but even if it seems that quantity is being asked you, use any support, colleague, tips or help to learn how to do better and faster what you already do instead of trying to share the load with others. Sharing the load is not solving any problem, just passing it to someone else and losing control over the whole project.

In case you are a manager sharing a resource:

1)   verify and share what you inevitably need to assign to the resource. Once this is agreed with your boss and with the resource, try to not vary this load but immediately ask for an assessment if you see that your part is not granted.

2)   Do not suggest the resource to prefer or favour your activities. Arrange for a part of work and a time which is “only yours”. This will help the resource to reserve not just his time but to give you her full attention during the period assigned to your part.

3)   If possible, never mix resources and projects. Clear tasks and separating roles is a key for projects completion and success.


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