Understand Your Place on the Project Team

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Categories: Communication, Teams

Have you ever been at a meeting where someone tries to tell you what you should be doing and how? Even though you are the project manager -- the one who guides the team and makes decisions -- you still have people offering their two cents. The advice can come from a project team member or a credentialed project manager on a different project.  

I have actually done this myself as a project team member. As someone technical, and who also has project management experience and knowledge, I have tried to impart that wisdom to my project manager.

I clearly remember one project manager I would advise on a number of things. It's in my nature that when there's a gap -- whether in communication, documentation, project planning -- I want to point it out.

The dilemma is that if you impart your knowledge too forcefully, you are possibly invalidating the project manager.

In certain situations, that advice becomes unmanageable and puts more pressure on the project manager, not only to manage the project but also to manage you.

If we feel there's a need to bring something to the table that is going to add value to the project, it needs to be brought up as such. You should not expect that the project manager would just implement it because you said so.

Before you even do that, consider asking yourself why you are thinking a particular way about a situation. Why are you asking for the changes? How does it resolve a specific issue that you are dealing with?

Challenge yourself. See if you can adapt and work with your team, deliver what you are required to deliver and, as appropriate, bring up the items that you feel can add value to the project. Understand the value of your place in the project and fulfill on the expectations others have of you.

How do you handle project team members who forcefully suggest their ideas?

Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: July 17, 2012 10:40 AM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Syed Waqar Hussain
True, sometimes it becomes very difficult to prevent yourself or your point of view against forced idea suggested by your stakeholder or steering committee. Although they do it in polite manner, but still you feel pressure. In this situation, I personally keep reminding myself to balance and control my focus regarding my point of view in a meeting. However I genuinely validate suggested idea and happy to agree it if it worth.

Sudipta Ray
This is true with me most of the time. I am not a Project Manager but have been a Lead for Long time. At least once every day, I find myself in a situation where I give advice to the Project Manager about how things have to go about.

Initially, I used to force my ideas on to the Project Manager. But later on I realized that I had to focus on how the idea will give a win-win situation and from then on have seen that the idea intake by the PM has gone in very smooth.

This is a real good point. Before suggesting, one should understand the value of his/her suggestion from project perspective.

Does it have direct impact on the project deliverables? And, also one should understand the execution style of the project manager and accordingly find the medium to suggest, sometimes in terms of suggestion, advice or through a formal and informal discussion.


Scott Cosgrove, PMP
Great post! Managing people is the facet of the job that takes the most energy and skill, at least for me. Really, if you think about it, you can spend more energy managing the tool than managing the work. If it were a software tool, you'd be wise to do away with it. But people are the PM's most valuable and critical tool. Team member management is stakeholder management, and if you don't get it right, you'll fail. So, while I don't have the magic key to managing every team player, I do recognize and agree with the need to address this issue the right way. You can't let a team member derail the project. But if you don't value their input, you run the risk of shutting them down and you can't afford the ramifications of that. Egos are fragile. Control is a delicate balance. This post was especially timely for me, as I have just this issue to address today. Good luck to all of you in dealing with these issues!

Manoj G
People often speak more forcefully than necessary out of their own problems like frustration or need to gain attention; for my projects I generally have various channels defined in my governance for providing feedback / ideas for improvements etc; some of these are open and some anonymous; if a team member has a point to make and if he makes it in his own loud manner than by using an agreed method, the team does not approve him and he would soon be looking for new opportunities where his noise is allowed .

Usually someone will give his opinion "forcefully" if the PM is not soliciting their suggestions. In every team meeting, PM should have an agenda item wherein they ask the team about what they as a team are doing well and what they are not doing well. That would allow team members to share their thoughts/ideas. PM can take the call on what ideas he wants to implement. At the end of the day, team feels connected to the project and shares the success/failure.

I think managing people gives the Project Manager the greatest issues. I am from a country where people find it ideal to ensure that their voice is heard above the rest even when all you want is suggestions and expect a very simple excercise of people making simple suggestions. So when having meetings the first thing i do is lay ground rules. Only one person is allowed to talk at a time, if anyone is dissatisfied with anothers contribution he/she should write out the suggestion he/she is uncomfortable with, the reason for the discomfort and their suggestion on how to make it better. After all team members willing to contribute have made their contributions, these reviews are read out and addressed adequately.
I realize that with this strategy i am able to manage difficult people a lot easier because they are not given room to begin to forcefully impose but instead have to sort of align with a voting system based on say the most preferred or ideal suggestion

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