A senior Project Manager (SPM, for short) is at customer site on one of those door-opening kind of assignments. He is doing a good job and the customer relates to him quite well. One day (in fact it was the middle of the night, owing to a mix-up on time zones), the account sales guy (AM, for short) calls me up and without exchanging any preamble pleasantries, shakes me up with ‘there’s trouble, man’: the SPM wants to return home prematurely in the middle of the assignment. And if he does, we can kiss off all the downstream work the customer is planning to give us. The SPM does not understand the seriousness of what he is considering. He (the AM) fears that one of these days the SPM is going to inform the customer about his pull-out plans. Hell will break loose, then. So, the AM wants me to put some sense into the SPM and make him continue with the assignment until closure.
Towards the end of this one-way worked-up verbal download, I gather my wits and manage to ask the AM why in the world SPM wants to get off midstream. Aggrieved AM informs me non-believingly that the SPM cites ‘some’ back pain as the reason, while he is in no discomfort cavorting about in the city quite openly with a pal in his car in the evenings and the weekends. SPM is just making it up to get back home for reasons not known. I assure him that I would talk to the SPM and try to persuade him to stay back on the assignment. Now I am fully awake and I get onto a call with the SPM who starts off ‘right’ by solicitously asking me why I am troubling myself with a midnight call. After the small talk, I get to the point. I explain what is at stake and how important it is for him to stay put, especially when the customer so impressed with his work. He hears me patiently without interrupting me and then proceeds ‘logically’ to tell me: he has always thought and acted with the org’s interests uppermost in his scheme of things; it would be no different this time. Unfortunately he has this severe back pain at the base of his spine that makes it impossible for him to sit in any posture for a long time. He has consulted a local doctor who advises a bed-rest followed by a minor surgical procedure. Obviously he wants to return to his base and get treated in some hospital nearer home. I gently bring up the point of his being fit enough to be going around with his pal; the SPM has quite a plausible explanation for it – at least for some time he forgets his pain this way. Do we expect him to lie around in bed, wincing in pain?
And he rests his case with: ‘Now, you tell me what do you want me to do. The AM does not understand what I am going through.’ I note I am not clubbed yet with the AM.
I pause here. How should I be taking this forward?
(To be concluded)