Let’s examine four key obstacles that can easily become an issue on any remotely managed project. I’m certain there are many more possible obstacles, but these are some of the most common ones that I’ve encountered.
The project manager is the project leader, the go-to person on the project, the one everyone is supposed to look to and listen to for direction and status. What about the project customer who can’t reach out and touch the project manager whenever they want to? Do they have concerns? Is their money being well spent? And what about the project manager? What obstacles does the remote PM face that would otherwise not be present if he was sitting at the customer site on a daily basis?
Let’s examine four key obstacles that can easily become an issue on any remotely managed project. I’m certain there are many more possible obstacles, but these are some of the most common ones that I’ve encountered.
I’m watching the Boston Bruins take on the Montreal Canadiens in hockey tonight – definitely a sport dominated more by Whites than Blacks. And they were talking about fighting racism in hockey. I don’t know if that exists or not or it did and it’s changing. I hope it’s changing or gone. But it made me think – does racism exist in Project Management? It shouldn’t exist anywhere!
This is 2022 – we shouldn’t even be having this type of discussion, but we are – every day in the news. What are your thoughts? Does it exist in PM? Is this too controversial to touch? It shouldn’t be. Thoughts? Please share your thoughts and experiences if you want - would love for this to be a good discussion. Comment here or on LinkedIn.
Project success ensured in a 10 step process. Sounds good! And an EASY ten step process. Sure.
Seriously though… contrary to my chosen title, we all know that there is no easy 10-step process to guaranteed project success. There’s not even a very HARD 100-step process to guaranteed project success. If there were either of these, someone would be a billionaire from it by now. What we do know is that more often than not, projects fail to some degree. In fact, more than 50% of all projects end in some degree of failure – just not necessarily complete and utter failure.
What is project success? How is it defined? Does it differ from project to project or customer to customer? Certainly there are varying degrees of project success and failure, right?
Some ways you would know, without question, that your project has experienced failure to some degree are…
Some ways you know that the project can generally be considered a success…
The Easy 10 Step Process
Again, it’s not an easy 10-step process as I misleadingly stated in the title. But it is 10 actions or steps that you, as the project manager, or your company as the delivery organization can incorporate into your project and PM practices to help ensure a much greater chance of project successes on an ongoing basis. By practicing these processes, you’ll increase the likelihood of project team cohesiveness, task understanding and completion, deliverable excellence, senior management approval, and customer satisfaction. The 10 steps or actions are:
Practice excellent and efficient communication. Excellent communication of priorities and expectations to delivery team members will increase their understanding of what’s expected of them and increase their likelihood of on time task completion.
Co-manage with the customer. A cohesive, co-management situation with the customer organization with fast dissemination of any alert or critical information keeps the customer involved and informed. Always be upfront and honest with the customer.
Incorporate reusable and repeatable PM processes. Reusable and repeatable processes and templates are key to building a solid PMO that will help ensure ongoing project successes.
Have a strong, centralized PMO. A strong PMO allows for the utilization of knowledge sharing and post-project lessons learned sessions.
Deliver as expected. Consistent delivery of expected material and information – status reports, updated project budget status, issues/risks lists – makes for a very satisfied customer.
Engage in frequent communication with all parties. Frequent formal and adhoc communications – delivery team calls, customer status calls, email alerts and updates – keeps everyone equally engaged.
Get the right resources and keep them around. Retention of skilled and necessary project resources is critical. Figure out the right skill set, get the resources, and fight like crazy to keep them when other critical projects come calling.
Manage the schedule with an iron fist. Manage the schedule tightly and the best way to keep it on track is to make sure everyone knows it and what’s expected of them. Never let it get too far out of date.
Manage scope just as tightly. Manage all change closely – scope, potential risks, change orders. Scope creep is ok if it’s covered by a change order. Then it’s not negatively impacting the schedule and the budget. Track, track, and track some more.
Keep your senior management involved and informed. Invite senior management to a customer meeting. Be sure to include them on critical project status information – or possibly every status report. What they don’t want, they won’t look at. But they’ll always have the chance to be informed and they’ll remember your project – so you can use them to knock down a roadblock, if necessary.
Nothing will ever guarantee project success. Not even choosing the right technology, picking just the right team with the perfect skill set. Not having an easily pleased customer. Bumps will happen. Issues will arise and things will occur that you never saw coming. But by following the 10 steps above you will give your project a better chance at success because you’re laying the groundwork for good cooperation, communication, and process with the team, the customer, and executive leadership.
Managing the resources on your project is much more than being a resource manager. In the role of project manager, when you’re managing a project you’re not only overseeing project team members, or ‘resources,’ but you’re also responsible for the project budget, the project schedule, all communications, and just about anything else that comes to mind.
So your role as resource manager means that not only are you responsible for assigning and overseeing the work that the project resources are performing on the project, you’re also responsible for forecasting their effort, managing how their work is affecting the project budget, and looking closely at when to add and remove resources from the project.
There are probably as many was to perform this effort as there are project managers in the universe and one of those may be simply using the most popular project management software on the market – Microsoft Project. With it you can input resources, assign dollar amounts to their time, and track resource usage and expenditures. However, you must also consider your target audience when considering how to manage these things and how you’ll be reporting the results and updates.
In my 20+ years of project management oversight, I’ve found that customers and executive management are both fairly disinterested in reviewing gantt charts and output reports from MS Project. They want cold hard facts in simple terms that they can wrap their heads and arms around. And that’s often not what comes out of MS Project. So that I’m not re-inventing the wheel for every resource and budget forecasting need on each project, I usually focus on using an Excel spreadsheet for this effort to simplify both my work and the output that goes to the customer and management.
The Project Manager must be on top of the project resource plan and budget throughout the engagement. This plan won’t keep itself in line – there are too many people charging time to the project and too many activities going on at once on leave resource and budget management to chance.
It is critical that the actual hours charged to the project by the project team be reviewed by the Project Manager on a weekly basis. If it is the project manager’s responsibility in your organization to approve project time on a weekly basis, then capturing time charged to the project will be easy – it’s already been provided. However, if that is not the case, then the project manager is going to need to utilize connections in the accounting department to get weekly project charges if they want to stay on top of the project resource plan as the engagement is in progress.
The figure below is from one of my project budgeting and forecasting worksheets and shows a typical project in progress. At the top is the overall budget for the project or project phase as well as any change order dollars that have been added to that figure. The heart of the spreadsheet shows the resource type across the top and the weekly hours spent (bold) and forecasted (non-bold) and the accompanying overall project budget status to the far right. As you can see in this example, this particular project or stage is forecasted to complete at $37,100 over budget with three weeks of effort remaining.
Even though this particular example – which is from an actual project I managed – is over budget, the key is that it was managed closely and revised weekly so everyone was aware of the status. And at 7.5% over budget, it’s still in the acceptable range for the quality of the work and the customer satisfaction that was realized. By giving the customer and your management this type of detailed information on resource status and ultimately project budget status throughout the project, you’re guaranteed more customer and management confidence, satisfaction, and participation in any corrective action that may need to take place to correct budgeting and resource issues. Why? Because everyone will be aware of problems as they are first occurring, not after they are already out of control.
The key as a Project Manager is to get detailed reports from your team and from Accounting on a weekly basis and to be adjusting and reforecasting the budget and the resources on a weekly basis. It is also just as critical that you get this report out to your team and to the customer so that everyone is an active participant in the resource and budget management process.
Project resource and budget management go hand in hand and must be a weekly activity. If you let it go to monthly, the project budget can get out of control – and you may soon realize that you don’t have enough committed time for a resource on the project with a critical project task looming ahead. Stay on top of it.
As the project manager, be sure to distribute it regularly to your team members and make it a discussion point on a weekly team call so they understand that you are watching the budget and are aware of what time is being charge to the project by each individual. Project team members are more accurate with their project time charging when they know that the project manager is watching it carefully and they will feel more accountable for the effort they charge to the project making the overall practice of resource and budget management much easier for the project manager to oversee.
What makes a project a project? How is it different from just work? Can all work be a ‘project’? (The answer is ‘no.’) Are all projects ‘work’? (Every project manager will confirm that the answer is definitely ‘yes’).
The short definition of a project is… “A sequence of tasks with a beginning and an end that is bounded by time, resources, and desired results.” The Project Management Institute (PMI) site states this… “A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies.”
As a guideline, projects truly differ from work in the following six key areas:
Again, not all work is a project, but all projects are work. The key is that a project is a temporary teaming of individuals to plan, configure and create something that didn’t exist before that meets a need that was expressed by a project ‘customer’ or ‘client.’ How this team performs in terms of on time delivery, on budget delivery and overall performance during the delivery all contributes (or takes away from) the success of the project.
Even before the pandemic, more than a third of Americans weren’t getting the recommended seven plus hours of nightly sleep that industry professionals recommend. Add the stress of everyone’s new reality, and, by certain estimates, 68% of Americans say they just aren’t getting enough rest.
While you’re probably aware of some of the issues, like mental fog, that can arise when you don't get enough rest, you may not be aware that your snoozing habits may impact all sorts of unexpected things—think: how well your heart pumps blood, and even your sex drive.
“Most of the systems in our body are predicated on some process of renewal or need for sleep,” explains board-certified sleep medicine researcher W. Christopher Winter, MD, the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It. “Sleep is a fundamental aspect of our thinking, our ability to function, and our immune system. It impacts pretty much everything we need to survive.”
So turn off your phone, close the shades, and hop into bed early tonight. If you don’t, here’s how a lack of sleep may impact your body.
1. It can hurt your immune system.
“There’s a very strong link between sleep and the immune system in general,” says Michael Awad, MD, chief of sleep surgery at Northwestern Medicine and chief medical officer of Peak Sleep. “The body repairs just about every cell in the body when it comes to sleep. Sleep deprivation lowers the body’s ability to mount an immune response.”
Sleep loss is linked to a higher risk of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One study published in JAMA found that restricting a person’s sleep for four hours a night for six days, followed by sleeping 12 hours a night for seven days, can lead to a greater than 50% decrease in the production of antibodies to a flu vaccine. Basically, your body just can’t mount the usual immune response when you’re wiped out.
Lack of sleep can also lower your immune system’s ability to fight tumor cells and lead to the generation of inflammatory cytokines. These proteins are secreted by the immune system and can cause the development of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.
2. It can raise your risk of heart disease.
One study of nearly 117,000 people published in the European Heart Journal found that people who slept less than six hours a night were at a greater risk of developing heart disease than their well-rested counterparts. And getting irregular sleep—that is, having no consistent bedtime and wake time—can raise your risk of having some kind of cardiovascular event, including stroke, congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
There are a “tremendous number of mechanisms” at play here, Dr. Winter says. “When you are sleep deprived or have fragmented sleep, your blood vessels lose, to some extent, the ability to expand and contract to regulate things,” he says. People also tend to be at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure when they don’t get enough sleep, Winter says, which can be tough on your heart.
Sleep deprivation can also increase cholesterol levels and general inflammation throughout your body, leading to the formation of plaque in the blood vessels, Dr. Awad says. “When blood vessels start to form plaque, the heart has to work harder,” he explains.
3. It can lower your sex drive.
There are a lot of reasons for this, Dr. Winter says. “When you’re fatigued, your brain prioritizes getting sleep over other things,” he says. But Dr. Winters says other chemicals that are important for sexual performance and arousal, such as oxytocin, can be lowered by sleep deprivation.
One study in JAMA restricted 10 men's sleep for a week and found that the levels of the sex hormone testosterone in their bodies decreased by up to 15%. (Testosterone is a hormone that can fuel a person's sex drive.) The reverse is also true: Another study published in JAMA found that people who got more sleep than usual were more likely to have sex the next day. Meaning, if you hit the hay earlier, you just might be up for a little something extra.
4. It can raise your risk of weight gain.
There are a few reasons for this. One is that people “tend to make bad eating decisions when they’re tired,” Dr. Winter says. People are also typically more sedentary and less likely to work out when they’re tired, which also can lead to weight gain, he says.
Research published in the journal Sleep found that people with restricted sleep had altered levels of endocannabinoids, one of the chemical signals that affect appetite, and the brain’s reward system. The researchers also discovered that when people were sleep-deprived, they ate more and unhealthier snacks between meals, at the same time that endocannabinoid levels were at their highest.
Older research has also found that women who get less sleep tend to weigh more than their better-rested counterparts, likely for the reasons above, Dr. Winter says.
5. It can increase your risk for developing diabetes.
There’s a direct correlation between lack of sleep and diabetes, Dr. Awad says. It’s due to your body’s ability to regulate insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls your blood sugar, he says. “Lack of sleep reduces the production of insulin from the pancreas and decreases gluten tolerance,” Dr. Awad says. “Cells are then less effective at using insulin, and that can lead to the development of diabetes.”
To be clear: Sleep deprivation isn’t cited by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) as a potential cause of diabetes, but insulin resistance—which can be caused by lack of sleep—is.
How to Finally Get More SleepIf you’re struggling with sleep, Dr. Winter recommends first trying to prioritize rest and practicing good sleep hygiene. That includes the following, per the CDC:
If these tried-and-tested tips don’t help, Dr. Awad says it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about what else you can do to get the rest your body needs.
As project managers, we have a long list of individuals to interact with, provide status reports to, and gather information from. We have project team members, clients, 3rd party vendors, and stakeholders who may not be involved in the project on a day to day basis but have a vested interest. And then there are various individuals and teams who may have little to do with the project at all…other than to make requests of us at the most inopportune time. Finally we have VP’s within our own organization.
Yes, our executive management team are critical stakeholders too. They need reports and updates. They care about the engagement to some degree, but most often they care about our projects from financial standpoint as in… “Will our project be contributing to, or taking from the bottom line of the organization.” Occasionally there are those projects that happen to become “pet projects” of one or more executives in our organization. And you know quickly if you happen to be “lucky” enough to lead one of those.
Normally, our key stakeholders get specific project information in the form of weekly status reports, budget and resource planning and forecasting updates, issues and risks updates, and an updated project schedule listing all project tasks and the progress made on each. But what do our executives in the organization want and need to see?
When I’m trying to get my project noticed, I want to make sure the VP’s are presented information that they will actually pay attention to. I need to prepare my project review a higher level than I normally do and these are the top 3 most important items I provide to them:
Visual project schedule
A visual project schedule is key for busy VPs, since it is ultimately the project schedule that drives the project day-to-day, week-to-week, from beginning to end. By using proper filters and reporting options, you can produce a higher-level report that conveys “what’s in progress”, “what’s starting next week”, “what’s lagging in the project schedule,” etc. I typically do this by paring down my full project schedule and presenting only the critical tasks, milestones, statuses and completion estimates. Although this can be done in many formats I have found that customers and executives love to see this report as a graphical project schedule or high level gantt chart and they prefer it in PowerPoint. It quickly communicates the project schedule in a way that grabs their attention and is easy for them to digest. I use this format to communicate any updates and alerts as well. Basically they get a good a snapshot of what’s happening and what should have happened that isn’t happening.
Updated financial forecast.
In addition to a visual project schedule in PowerPoint, I provide a revised financial forecast shows actuals-to-date and forecasts through the end of the engagement. These financials complements the project schedule by providing executives a snapshot of where the overall budget is against plan (i.e., 10% over, or 12% under…).
The financial report should also should call out any high level issues or notes or explanations especially well…especially if the budget is off by much. For example giving the financial forecast to the executive management team showing that it is 22% over budget might cause them concern, but indicating in the notes that you are about to get signoff on a $255k change order that will correct the overage immediately will keep them away from your desk.
Weekly status report.
Finally, providing your VP’s with a exec-level status report for each of your projects is a good idea. You could just forward your regular weekly status report on to them, especially if you are extremely busy, however, I have found that summarizing it so it provides the right amount of detail in the right format will get attention and get notice. If I am managing multiple projects at a time, I will try to roll these status reports up into one high-level summary.
Exec teams are busy and may not have the time to digest a lot of heavy project information, so your reporting needs to be high level and easy to understand. I try to provide them just the right amount of detail in the right format. I have, occasionally, had execs who didn’t want much information at all, but even then it is a good practice to keep them informed. In scenarios where you need them to quickly get a resource or knock down a project roadblock it is helpful if they have been kept current. The other benefit of presenting your project schedule, financials and status reports to execs on a regular basis is that it gets you recognition…they will know who you are and they will see you are in control of managing your projects. And that is pretty good for your career in the long run.
Proper, effective and efficient communication on the project may be the single most important ingredient to project success. I feel strongly that project communication is the most important part of a project manager's daily responsibilities and overall good communication is the responsibility of every stakeholder on the project. Drop the ball on communication and you might be looking at re-work, a missed deadline, expenses pushing the project over budget and customer concerns or misunderstandings that can drive a project into the ground – faster than you can ever imagine.
There is no magic wand to wave that will ensure that a project won't suffer issues or even that a project that starts out with a formal communication plan in hand and a project leader dedicated to staying on top of all communication channels at all times won't still suffer from communication breakdowns.
Review status regularly as a team. Since a tightly knit, cohesive team is usually tantamount to success, it would make sense that a team that communicates well, accurately, and frequently is also more likely to experience success and high productivity. Therefore, regularly scheduled team meetings, communication, and tasks and status review is always going to be a good idea. Keep in mind, It doesn't always have to be a meeting. Daily updates via email can be enough to make your team feel like they know everything about the project at any given minute. One of my business analysts on a project – who was also working on three other projects with three other project managers – told me that I received more emails from me than the others and always felt like he knew the project status much better because of it and he knew what tasks he should be working on at any given time.
Keep meetings regular. Regular meetings = a stable stakeholder environment = communications that are comfortable and open. If you are conducting – as you should be – regular weekly project status meetings with the project customer and weekly project team meetings to keep the team focused and up to date, keep those meetings no matter what. Even if there isn't much to say at any given meeting, still conduct it...even if it ends up being a 5 minute meeting to talk about what everyone is doing this weekend. You never know when some piece of key project information may slip through the cracks when a meeting is canceled that should have otherwise been held. Plus, when you start to cancel meetings, people who would normally be in attendance may feel that your meetings aren't as critical as other meetings they could be attending and your attendance and participation levels may drop. You've then lost key participants and decision makers and that can be disastrous for the project and it's often very difficult to rein those individuals back in.
Follow up on key communications. Always, always, always followup. Making sure everyone is on the same page after meetings, after key brainstorming or troubleshooting sessions and following customer communications is critical to moving forward in the right direction. Followup with notes and ask for a 24 hour turnaround response with any feedback or changes from those involved in the discussions. Redistribute with any necessary changes and everyone will be back on the same page again.
Summary / call for input
Communication is Job One for the project manager, in my opinion. Keep communication in order and you've taken huge steps to ensuring project success and top project team performance for your project customer. If you are experiencing any communication issues, noticing and miscommunication that is cloud requirements and scope understanding for the team or a situation where people aren't taken the same understanding from meetings you're conducting, try these three actions on your project to get things back on track. A strong line of communication with the project customer is also a very good way to keep customer satisfaction high and hopefully secure repeat business from your project clients.
Readers – what are your thoughts on project communication issues? What do you commonly see as communication issues on the projects and how do you best avoid or mitigate those issues?
I just read an email from a highly regarded project management software vendor about showing Valentine's Day appreciation to project team members with Valentine's Day cards. You've got to be kidding. This is not the 2nd grade where we all make our Valentine's Day mailboxes for our desks out of shoe boxes decorated in red, pink and white. I couldn't believe what I was reading. It probably came from the same person who dreamed up giving participation ribbons or trophies to everyone.
Rewards are good. I've been a manager or project manager leading teams for 23 years and it's never been my strong point...nor has it ever been a big deal to me. But I do feel strongly about letting the word get out about a job or deliverable or milestone well-done by an individual or team effort on one of my projects. If you do like to give out special prizes or gift cards or Valentine's Day cards to your team...more power to you. It's just not for me and I'd like to discuss alternative types of recognition options as they seem to be lacking in the project management community.
I'm not big on making any reward too personal in nature. People today are too litigious. I'm not saying your team or anyone on it is going to sue you, but people can do unexpected odd things so to remain completely above reproach, never get personal. Consider these four...
Send out a company wide email. If you team put forth a great effort and met a critical deadline or milestone or just completed a very successful project, don't wait for or expect reward or notice to come from the top of the organization. Send out your own congratulatory email to the entire company or at least to key individuals and call out everyone by name. If possible, give a brief mention of everyone's project role and how they contributed to the success.
Take the team out to dinner. It never hurts to take the team out for pizza or a nice dinner once you hit that critical milestone or final project roll out. You can all breathe a sigh of relief and get together when it isn't about another project meeting or some sort of crisis to deal with in a war room setting. Today's projects with geographically dispersed teams makes something like this difficult or even impossible, so you likely won't get to use this option o n many of your projects. If you all gather at the client's site for a major deliverable handoff, lessons learned meeting, quarterly review meeting or project roll out, use that time to get away one evening to do this. I've done that many times and it works great.
Gift cards for extraordinary individual efforts. When it was more of an individual effort like powering through a project issue crisis or key deliverable, you can still do the company wide email distribution. But this may also be a situation where a nice gift card would be in order.
Days off. Finally, you can always fall back on the option to give a couple of days off to a project team member for extraordinary effort – if you have the authority or you can work it out with the team member's direct manager...and if you can spare the time off in the project schedule for the individual. No one will mind a day or two off of work...this option almost always will be well received.
Summary / call for input
I think most project team pros would appreciate recognition like what I've listed here more than a Valentine's Day card...these have worked well for me on my teams and direct reports anyway. But I do realize everyone is different. Readers – what is your take on my list? What have you tried that has worked well...or hasn't gone over so well? Please share and discuss.
Few things are more important to one’s livelihood than their employment, so it’s critical to ensure that nothing in your job-seeking arsenal is costing you future employment. In particular, if you have been fired or have resigned, you need to carefully consider 5 commonplace myths that could inhibit your job seeking efforts. While the need for a good job reference is critical to employment success, many candidates take little time or effort to assure that their references are portraying them in the best possible light. Very often, this oversight occurs because of incorrect assumptions about how references (and reference checking) work.
Among the questions for which you need to know the answers: How are references conducted? What are employers allowed to say? And are yours working for, or against you?
Reference Checking Myth No. 1:
Companies are not allowed to say anything negative about a former employee during a documented reference check.
The Truth: While many companies may have policies that dictate only title, dates of employment and eligibility for rehire can be discussed, reference persons frequently violate those rules in providing bad references about former employees despite company policies.
Think about the boss with whom you had philosophical differences...or the supervisor who sexually harassed you. Can that person be trusted to maintain a professional standard? In many cases the answer is no; approximately half of Allison & Taylor clients receive a bad reference, despite the fact that many companies have strict policies in place prohibiting negative references.
Reference Checking Myth No. 2:
Former employers direct all reference checks to their Human Resources departments, and those people won't say anything negative about me.
The Truth: Most Human Resources professionals will follow proper protocol during reference checks. However, in addition to WHAT is said, reference checkers also evaluate HOW something is said. In other words, they listen to tone of voice and note the HR staffer's willingness to respond to their questions. Both are critical factors in reference checks - how will your employment be reflected in their responses?
(On a related note, Human Resources is generally allowed to divulge whether a person is eligible for re-hire. What will they say about you?)
Reference Checking Myth No. 3:
It’s best to have my employment references listed on my resume and distribute them together.
Your references should be treated carefully and with respect; you don’t need companies that may or may not have a real interest in hiring you pestering your employment references. Keep your references separate from your resume, and only provide them when requested. Better still, have a list of your references readily available (in the same format/font as your resume) to be given to a prospective employer. When offered (for example) at the conclusion of an interview – in a highly professional format – it can create a very proactive (and favorable) ending impression.
Reference Checking Myth No. 4:
Once a company hires me, my job references really do not matter anymore.
The Truth: Not all companies finish background and/or reference checks before you are hired. Many employment agreements and contracts include a stipulation that says the employer can hire you with a 90-day probation period. During this time, they will not only evaluate your job performance but, in some instances, will do background and reference checks. During this time, if the results are unsatisfactory, they have the legal right to terminate your employment.
Reference Checking Myth No. 5:
I sued my former company and according to job reference laws, they are now not allowed to say anything.
The Truth: Job reference laws can be bypassed and may not entirely protect you. Under job reference laws your former employer may not be able to say anything definitive, but do not put it past them to carefully take a shot at you while still in accordance with the law.
As an example, a former boss or an HR staffer may say “Hold on a minute while I get the legal file to see what I am allowed to say about Mr. Smith.” Although not allowed to “divulge anything” as stated by job reference laws, they just indicated there were legal issues surrounding your employment. This implication can torpedo your job prospects.
Many people discover the error of their assumptions the hard way - by losing out on the perfect job because of reference issues. Check your own references before you provide them to employers to ensure you can address potential problems before they cost you the job.
For more information on reference checking, and what to do if a negative reference is impeding your chances for a new job, please visit www.AllisonTaylor.com.