A Negotiation Process
Yes, negotiation. To resolve the issue, negotiation is the primary non-technical skill required. Recovery Managers need to be in the center of a project looking honestly at both the supplier's and customer's interests in the project. They need to objectively assess the problems and conflicts and provide fair and equitable resolutions. Fact-based nonpartisan decisions will win the project participants' respect and enlist cooperation.
This is a difficult task. Being human, opinions form quickly. People like to please others and being objective in a highly partisan environment is exhausting. Recovery Managers, however, need to be agnostic. It is critical the solution is viewed as being objective and devoid of bias. Without this, the solution will be unacceptable to a large portion of the stakeholders and the Recovery Manager's job will be impossible.
Too many times the organization paying for the recovery wants the Recovery Manager's allegiance. This might seem reasonable, but partisan Recovery Managers will be unable to achieve concessions from other groups when issues arise. This will lead to more difficulties in trying to implement a solution and executing the new plan.
This is the reason enough for the Recovery Manager to report to the Steering Committee. Their duty, being a mixture of suppliers and customers, is to focus on a successful project, as opposed to laying blame or having one group edge out another.
When people have a separate agenda inside the project, friction always arises. These may be people pushing for a specific solution, trying to promote a product, service or themselves. An honest broker must meet these situations openly and honestly by asking the Steering Committee for direction. It should be a topic of discussion in meetings. A stated direction to use a product or service is not a hidden agenda. If the team is unaware of the direction, then perception is as bad as if it were reality. People should follow the direction or be removed from the project.
How About the Project Manager?
Sit back, think about this. Help me understand how this is any different from how any Project Manager (not to mention a leader) should act. The Project Manager needs to have this same objectivity. When dealing in facts, many of the common project level problems (scope creep, communication breakdowns, risk control and so forth) never become big issues. In fact, objectivity provides the Project Manager with the tools to address the big killers of projects—senior management's ineffective involvement and lack of direction. Cold, hard facts are very powerful and the most effective tool to thwart management's inaction. Reread this article and replace the 'Recovery Manager' with 'Project Manager' and you will see that everything still applies.