Maybe you've heard of Parkinson's Law; "Work expands to fill the time alotted." In other words, if you give someone 10 days to complete a task, they'll take the full 10 days, either by adding unnecessary features during the leftover time, or by waiting until the last minute to complete the work (also called "Student Syndrome").
Well, the same thing applies to the roles we brand people with. We can repackage Parkinson's Law as; "Performance Expands to Fill the Role Alotted." If we give people stretch goals, and brand them with a role or image that is slightly ahead of where they are, they'll stretch to live up to that role. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
If we pidgeonhole someone into the role they've always filled (or worse, a less important role), they'll usually limit their performance accordingly.
It's important for morale, employee retention, and the good of the project, to give people goals that will stretch them a little. But this doesn't mean to throw them at the wolves and see if they emerge with their limbs intact. It mean we need to offer the guidance, coaching, and tools for them to be successful.
I've seen too many organizations focus on tools and processes, and only give lip service to their people. They either brand people with an image based on some preconceived idea of their ability, or they give people stretch goals without any guidance or coaching whatsoever. I'd be hard pressed to say which is worse, but neither are good.
Let's remember that it's people that can make or break an organization, even with the best tools and processes. Let's give them the attention and support they deserve.
Labels: branding, brands, it-project, people, performance, project-roles, tools