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Are You the Problem on the Project Team?

I was talking to a project manager the other day who was complaining about his team. Specifically, he felt that the team members were a serious problem on the team and were detrimental to the success of the initiative. To make a very long story short….in conversations with him about what was going on, it was apparent that the issue was not the project team members – it was him! So here is what he was doing as leader of the team:

  • Making it clear he was the boss – through telling team members how to do their tasks, providing information on a “need to know” basis only, and controlling all meetings.
  • Discouraging discussion on any variety of topics – when decisions needed to be made or problems resolved, he discouraged any discussion from team members. He basically told the team how they would be moving forward.
  • Not enabling any time to socialize – he had a very strong “get to work” attitude.  He had no tolerance for small talk or socializing prior to meetings.

The reason he felt that the team was a problem was because the team was disengaging from the project.

It didn’t initially go over well when I noted that he was definitely the problem, not the team members. Once we got past his shock, and discussed the issues and saw how he was coming across as the team leader – he started to get it.

One of the first steps we took to get him back on track was to have him meet with the team to get the project back on track. Prior to the meeting, he sent an email to the team acknowledging that he hasn’t done a stellar job of leading the team and asked them to respond to the following questions so that he can better perform in his role:

  1. What is he doing effectively as the project team leader?
  2. What does he need to learn to do better to be more effective as the project team leader?

Next stop – the team meeting! Stay tuned – our next post will follow up with how the team meeting played out.