The Ability to Maintain Order and Discipline

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Integrated Project Management
By Earl Hall, Juliane Johnson
Table of Contents
Chapter 1.  The IPM Project Manager


From time to time, an individual assigned to a project will not cooperate. This person opposes the planning process and goofs off when doing the assigned planning work. The project manager must step in and correct this situation. Failure to do so will lose the support of the team, and worse, their respect; it may even lead to undermining the project.

It is very difficult to get a team member, who chooses not to do so to contribute to project planning. Often the person calls the planning process "Mickey Mouse," and cannot be talked out of it. The first step in dealing with this situation, if it is feasible, is to bring in a replacement with similar expertise. This step begins with a one-on-one discussion with the offender, with the project manager asking whether he or she would voluntarily leave the project. If this works, the project manager should go for it. The project is always better off with a lesser skilled individual who will try, than someone who will not. It is important to speak frankly in discussions with the problem individual without being aggressive. However, the project manager, by no means, should be wishy-washy.

If the project is stuck with an uncooperative team member, the project manager will have to enforce the member's participation. This process will be time consuming and will slow project planning but is necessary. Whenever necessary planning input must be gotten from others with appropriate experience and knowledge, this input should be referred to the troublemaker for comment. Through this process, the project manager will be able to identify the troublemaker's tasks and add them to the task list. At this point, the troublemaker may or may not choose to participate.

If the project manager must search for the necessary input, the troublemaker should be told, and the input should be passed on to the team, along with any comments the troublemaker may have made.

With risk analysis, the project manager will have to consider the validity of the troublemaker's time and overrun estimates. It is best not to expect a conscientious effort. Then again, the troublemaker may try; risk analysis will allow for a "not try."

An even bigger problem is that of a team member who ignores assigned tasks. While walking about and talking to people occupied with tasks, the project manager will note progress and compare it with the task performance projections in the project Gantt chart. If a task appears to be moving slowly, the key question is, "Are we slowed down because of factors deemed possible in risk analysis, or is this a case of a substandard performance on the worker's part?"

The project manager must talk to the worker in question, identify the problem, and ask, "What can we do about it?" If the problem is caused by a source discovered in risk analysis, some risk-reducing resources must be brought into play, and the delay absorbed by the risk factor. If the problem is the worker, the project manager is faced with a classic discipline problem that must be dealt with in a forthright manner, by holding a private discussion on the worker's turf, as soon as possible. If adjustments to bolster work performance are possible, the task then should proceed. These adjustments also must be put into writing, dated, and signed, and copies must be provided for both parties.

If the unsatisfactory performance continues, the project manager's options will depend on the organization's practices and must always be documented carefully and shared with the problem individual. If dealing with a programmer, for example, the project manager may determine that in similar situations programmers typically write 400 lines of code each day, while he or she writes only 100 lines, at best. Different situations call for different measures, but the uncooperative person's poor performance must be written up. This is very important in any disciplinary situation. If it could somehow get to the National Labor Relations Board, documentation is absolutely necessary. The problem individual must be given a written statement describing the perceived problem and have ample opportunity to respond in writing.

Depending on the organization's practice, the project manager may ask the problem individual to join in a discussion with their resource manager. This conversation may resolve things, or it could result in the manager taking formal disciplinary action. The project manager may, alternatively, seek to replace the problem individual. Another option is to have someone work with that person. In any case, the action should be taken with the problem individual's full knowledge.

If no resolution can be reached, the project manager should give the individual's manager a carefully documented description of the problem and the processes used to try to resolve it.

If another person is brought in to replace the problem individual, the project manager and the team should identify how to best bring the new person up to speed. This can be done through a formal plan or with someone acting as a mentor. The chosen method should be used whenever a new team member is added to the project.

Throughout this process, the rest of the team will realize that the project manager cares deeply about good performance and is willing to take uncomfortable steps to ensure it in addition to going to great lengths to be fair and just.


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    Integrated Project Management
    Integrated Project Management
    ISBN: 0071466266
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 190

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