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Topics: Resource Management
In early stage of my career, our team leader complained of one team member to Project manager. She complained that this team member is not good team player because he always disagrees with her opinio

In early stage of my career, our team leader complained of one team member to Project manager. She complained that this team member is not good team player because he always disagrees with her opinions. So please drop him from my team. But both were vital for team and project success.. In this case what should PM do to keep team together ?
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Disagree with opinion of a person is not just reason for removing member from team. The person concerned should be sensitised with the issue.

This is interesting and I really look forward to hearing what other seasoned professionals have to say on this.However,my take would be that the PM needs to sit down with the team leader and explain to her that disagreements or difference in opinions are not necessarily a bad thing as they can lead to constructive discussions that may help the project.Likewise,the team leader needs to be guided that the solution to the challenge is not to kick out a disagreeing member rather finding common ground on project issues through consultations.

Shadav -

The PM should help the team leader and team member work through their conflict - the specific approach really depends on the context of the project, their two roles, and the nature of the conflict itself.


PMBOK suggests that when there are issues with team member behaviour, use negotiation techniques and set ground rules. Well - amazingly - this actually works! I experiment with PMBOK team member processes on my university students who have to complete projects. As the project sponsor, I give PM's the following options:

1. That I (project sponsor) attend their next meeting and set some ground rules for behaviour (this is heavy handed and actually undermines the team leaders authority and sets a negative tone, but gets the job done)
2. Do nothing or just keep trying and sputter on until the project finishes.(Painful and not conducive to success).
3. That the team sits down, the team leader reminds the team of objectives, air the issues that are undermining success and agree to ground rules. And the team leader should not permit this to turn into a finger-pointing exercise, but as a re-focusing. And we discussed some of the ground rules that could be on the table.If this is difficult, I can attend their meeting and help the negotiation process, but again, this may undermine the team leader's authority.
4. That she pulls the team member aside and sets ground rules for behaviour (generally breeds resentment).

Most teams choose option 3 and I never get involved. Yes, reassignment is a possibility, but I find team leaders tend to come to project sponsors when reassignment will have a huge effect on the project objectives, so resolving their issues is more conducive to success. Most people are interested in being on a successful team and are often unaware of their behaviour that makes work difficult.

Well, answering this question is really hard. We need more information. The situation, organizational culture, the personality of team members, etc. should be considered. Generally, first, the root of the problem should be identified. second, we need an action plan to resolve the issue. they both need a mechanism to work with each other.

I agree with what each of my peers have stated. Differences of opinion and conflict are a normal part of what we deal with frequently in project management. When differences of opinion or conflicts bubble up I like to ask questions to get to the bottom of things. If the person is vital to project success, I would work with them and the team leader to see what can be done to improve their relationship and finding common ground in acceptable behaviors. This would need to be dealt with using the facts, keeping emotions in check and acting with professionalism. Perhaps allowing the team leader to express how they feel and facilitating a better working relationship between the two experts.

Personality conflicts such as you describe in my opinion are best addressed in a formal/ semi-formal environment. Having the two individual who seem to have issues with other try to work it out amongst themselves rarely works. In fact a friend of mine who decided to sit down with one of his staff who was causing issues amongst his team blurted out from their closed door meeting that he was "harassing" her. Big no-no to sit down and meet with someone such as that under those circumstance one-on-one behind closed doors. Depending on the company size, culture, organization (union-non union), etc, it would be best to get someone from HR involved to act as a mediator of sorts.

Reassuring to note on Lori’s comment-‘Differences of opinion and conflict are a normal part of what we deal with frequently in project management.’
There will (should) be some or a few ‘strong characters’ in every company for various reasons. Really depends on circumstances, for me certain ‘easy fixes’ can be done openly whilst the ‘noise’ occurs, the PM should be able assert influence on things that matters to change/maintain the team’s dynamics.
A very useful guide/podcast by Mark Mullaly -


Hard to say without full context. I was in a team with such a person, looking back it was constructive.

Should the PM check or inquired more about the diverging opinion are they justified?

Just open discussion with both,

Many more options, one might best fit the situation.
Conflict resolution, team building are some.

A PM in this situation should privately discuss with both parties individually first before trying to assess the problem and determine how to mediate.

I have seen "leaders" who want to have too much direct control, wishing to act as SMEs. This undermines the team in a number of ways, to the extent where I've seen people who will happily allow a project to fail with no emotional investment at all, because it was all the fault of the "leader" who dictated rather than facilitated a solution.

I have also seen team members who have resisted any direction or leadership at every turn when the team decision disagrees with their personal opinion on the best course of action.

Between those, I've seen a variety of situations that are simply a personality clash, or even 2 people who are in violent agreement with each other but don't see it because they are not speaking the same technical jargon.

As with any project issue, the first step to solving it is to better understand the nature of the issue. Having the discussion privately with each first, will allow them to be more forthcoming than if they feel they are going to be challenged by the other party as they try to explain their side.
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