Dear PM Advisor. June 24, 2012

Dear PM Advisor, What is your advice when you badly need people for your project, and you got a very good resume, technically the person sounds very good, has mechanical engineering background. Communication skills are very poor with strong Chinese accent (phone interview). When your new employee arrived you are shocked. He has very strong neurological disorder. Can't communicate at all. Probably autistic. Covered with psoriasis and bowing and shaking all the time. Looks very scared.

From the moment he arrived, he grabbed IQ, OQ protocol and started to correct it.  Good quality results.

But client is shocked: Who is this person, Who hired him? He looks like an invalid. We can't trust him with our equipment.

What would you do in this situation. He is a good engineer, but bad PR.

Natasha in South Carolina.

Dear Natasha,

From the looks of the deliverables on this project, Installation Qualification and Operation Qualification protocols, it looks like you are running a validation project, not the next Project Runway. As such, the client is hiring a mind, a set of experience and someone who can do the work, not the next Fabio. It seems like this guy fits those requirements. He could be a quadriplegic with Ebola and still be perfectly acceptable as long as his deliverables are up to par.

The client seems to care what he looks and acts like. Is that fair? Unfortunately, if Jackie Psoriasis is sitting in a cubicle on-site, it does happen. They will get nervous and find excuses to get rid of him. And this can affect your job as a consultant with this company. They question your ability to hire good people to do their work.

Your job, as project manager, is to insulate the client from him. You have the social and presentation skills that he lacks. So be that intermediary, have him work remotely and show off the worker's results. Soon they'll forget about his appearance.

And in future, you always need to meet your fellow consultants before they arrive on the job site. If they are not fit for public display, seat them off-site and have them filter their work through you. You can show the client that you are saving them money by not having to pay for travel costs, cubicle space and commuting time.

If they insist that no-one works off-site, explain that the person has a disability that does not affect their work. Plan out his deliverables an a piece-work basis and bill the client accordingly. If they get billed fairly for good work, they'll ask for him again.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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