Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Making team changes to benefit the group, part of Project Management Foundations: Teams.
It's inevitable. Sometimes team members will not work out well. What you do as the project manager to address the situation can mean the difference between being perceived as a competent leader and being a figurehead. When a team member isn't well suited to produce what is needed, or can't work within the dynamics of your team, you need to take action. It's one of your primary team leadership responsibilities in the best interest of the project and the team.
How you act; however, is situational. I want to share with you some guidelines here; however, it's important that you understand the standard HR processes and expectations for your organization before you use these approaches. Let's first look at performance concerns. Performance issues from a team member can come from internal sources or external sources. Internal sources are person based, one's capabilities, personality, and approach to the project.
Capability issues can sometimes be addressed in the short term through training. Personality issues are much more difficult to manage. External sources are environmental. For example, if one of your team members is playing a critical role on four other projects, they're unlikely to be responsive to your project. As a means of working through these internal/external capability or personality situations, take a look at this table.
The left axis represents whether the pressures are from internal or external sources. The bottom axis represents either capability or personality problem types. The result gives you four quadrants that provide high-level steps for dealing with team member issues. The upper left quadrant address internal issues with capability being the problem. In this case, the first step is to try and coach the person to increase capability.
If that does not work, clearly state the expectation with the team member. And finally, if that does not yield the needed result, surface the concern with the team member's manager. The lower left quadrant discusses external issues with capability being the problem. In this case, the first step is to work with the team member's manager and address the workload expected of your team member. A workload priority switch or a switch of team member is ideal in this situation.
Alternatively, having the team member mentor another one of your team members may work. The upper right quadrant discusses internal issues with personality being the problem. In this case, the first step is to work with the team member and point out the concerns you have. Be supportive and try to coach the team member if they are willing. If that does not work, then the team member's manager needs to be alerted and a plan devised for correction or replacement of the team member based on the manager's approach.
Lastly, the lower right quadrant discusses external issues with personality being the problem. In this case, the first step is to work with the team member and discuss the issues being mindful of the workload or other pressures the team member may be experiencing. If the team member is providing quality deliverables, patience with this situation may be in order. If issues persist, then work with the team member's manager to address workload concerns and point out the teaming issues you are experiencing.
The most significant perception of your leadership will be formed when things are difficult not when things are running smoothly. Dealing with team member issues directly and succinctly is vital to be a good project leader.
Along the way, discover how to negotiate for key resources, appreciate and maximize individual working styles, use emotional intelligence to add a personal approach to your management style, and resolve conflict.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Understanding the four key work styles
- Negotiating for your team
- Sharing a common objective
- Making team rules
- Directing the team
- Solving team conflicts<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.