No, You Don’t Have the Best Team—Deal With It!

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

An inexperienced project manager said to me recently that they felt they were being set up to fail because the team they had been given was made up of people who were either inexperienced, low performers, or both.

I suspect many new project managers feel the same sense of frustration, but let’s face up to the reality of the situation. Organizations have limited numbers of people available for projects, and the star performers are going to be assigned to the most important projects. That goes for project managers as well as team members.

I can pretty much guarantee that the less experience you have, the less likely you are to be appointed to one of those more important projects. The reason why your team has less experience or is less skilled than some other teams is because the project is less critical to the success of the organization—which is also why you are being trusted to manage it.

I’m not suggesting the project isn’t important, nor am I suggesting that you aren’t capable of managing it; but we have to recognize that not every project is equally important, and you will be given a low-risk project to start with to allow you to gain experience in a safe setting.

The same will be true of your inexperienced team members. If you have people on the team who are experienced but under-perform relative to their colleagues, then it is …

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