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A Negative Attitude on the Project Team – Part II

A Mini Case Study: What the Project Manager Did

Read Part I of this case study to get background information and learn how others might have handled this situation.

But first….before we start with the wrap up of the case study – many thanks to all those readers who responded with their ideas on how they might handle the situation. What a great conversation! Thank you for reading and for your comments!

What the Project Manager Did

First, the project manager (Joanna) realizes letting the situation go this long has been a real problem – it has impacted his credibility with thither team members and with stakeholders and has made it more difficult to handle the situation with this particular team member (Sam.)

Second, Joanna’s first conversation with Sam certainly did not go well at all when he told her to “….deal with it.”

Joanna decided she needed a better planned out response to dealing with this situation. Here is what she did prior to her next meeting with Sam:

  1. Document everything that has been going on with Sam – specific examples – and the impact of the situation on the project, stakeholders and other team members.
  2. Document all expectations of all team members on the project as it relates to getting the work done (quality expectations, meeting deadlines) and interacting with other team members (communications, passing work) and with stakeholders.
  3. Document exactly what is expected of Sam to improve his interactions with others on the team and with his work on the project overall based on #1 (how he must address each specific example provided) and #2 above.

She also asked the project sponsor and key stakeholders to support what she planned to do to correct the situation. This way she can ensure that Sam knows she has support for the plan she is putting in place.

Joanna arranged a meeting with Sam and let him know that the meeting was mandatory.  She started the meeting off letting him know that the situation must be corrected and was not an option (in other ways she didn’t want to hear “…deal with it.”) She also notified him that she had the support of the sponsor and key stakeholders.

Joanna started off by telling Sam that while she empathized with his family situation, she could not allow the situation at work to continue. Specifically, he will correct the situation or will be removed from the project team and it would have a negative impact on his job. Joanna shared specific examples and her (and the team’s) expectations of working on the project and being part of the team and what she expected from him to correct this situation. She also told him she regretted letting it go on this long.

Sam listened and had a much different response then their first conversation. Using Action Planning, they together developed how he would correct the situation – specific steps he would take plus timing to get back on track.  They also included how he would repair his relationships with the other team members.

Joanna also suggested that Sam contact HR who may be able to provide some guidance on the family situation he is having. She reminded him that the organization is very supportive of employees and he should not feel like he has to manage everything on his own.

Sam thanked her for her time and her patience and for giving him another chance to improve the situation.

In summary

Joanna was glad it all worked out and, after only a few weeks, saw tremendous progress on Sam’s part. Even the team members noted the situation was improved. Sam checked in regularly to ensure he was on track.

From Joanna’s perspective, she realized she never should have let this situation go and should have responded immediately. She could have avoided many of the issues had she done so.