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Topics: Organizational Culture, Stakeholder Management, Teams
Confidence issue or lack of support from management?
Anonymous
Junior PM transitioning to PM, supporting a PM who is absent quite a lot due to extended illness. I have issues with one of the main stakeholders/contributors that reports to the PM on this project.

He regularly questions my authority directly and to other members of the team, even though it has been explained to him by senior mgmt why I have to step in and ask him to deliver instead of the PM.

Examples include:
- refusing to update status reports, his roadmaps, risks and issues with "this is not a priority for me" or "management should be across this" when it needs to be in writing for auditability due to the nature of the project

- We use Jira, has absolutely refused to be assigned tickets and if he is, he does not action them. Works in Jira for his other work.

- delaying any delivery for governance forums, resulting in me waiting and logging in late at night for the submission so I can review. An example was a slide asking for a extremely large amount of money which he did not give me a heads up about, so I got flak for it as I was unaware of the ask or that it was even in the presentation.

- regularly calling me to complain about his day to day work outside of the project or things out of my control

- regularly raising his voice to me, other project team members, interrupting them

I have escalated this to my manager, the PM, and senior management multiple times but due to the IP he holds which is hard to find in the market, he is considered untouchable. Therefore, we have to stick with him and I've been told to keep pushing him to do what I ask. "Update not received" does not work, he just gives a verbal update which is disorganised and again, I get stern words about auditability.

Does anyone have any advice for me - I'm nearly at the point where the lack of support has made me want to apply for another role and I feel he is walking all over me.
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So there are many things you could probably try but I will cut right to the chase - 9 out of 10 times bad management practises i.e. a lack of support is symptomatic of a larger problem within an organization. Changing weak leadership from the bottom up is very very difficult, if not impossible. Before embarking on any efforts to 'fix' the problem first determine if this is the case. Is this weak leadership only with this specific manager? If he/she has been in a management position for a long time then it most probably goes beyond just them - walk away (actually run)
You should handle this with your guy personally.

Only then he will respect you, trust you and eventually cooperate.
Find out why he behaves like he does, it may be that he thought he should become the interim PM and not you, that he sees no value in you as you are junior, or whatever.

Ask if you can have a 1:1. If so, start with explaining your frustration and the signs from him that created this frustration. Use the sequence: his actions are interpreted by you create your emotions determine your actions. Focus on what his actions were. Explain to him your interpretations (he does not know them yet). Tell him about your feelings.
Let him explain his reasons for his actions (and you will find out your interpretations were wrong).

Make sure in any conversation that you establish a common ground / purpose and mutual trust (e.g. be vulnerable, honest).

A good book on how to do this is 'Crucial conversations'.
Get a mentor.
Be humble and try to help where you can. As junior this is important, many seniors defend their status.
Do you understand "why" he is behaving this way? Could he perhaps have TOO much work on his plate and doesn't see your project as his #1 priority? Have you had a 1:1 discussion with him OR with his functional manager?

Kiron
Have a private conversation with him, to get information about his intentions, perspectives around the project. This information would help you to choose a conflict resolution way. In most cases, the best conflict resolution is Collaborate/Problem Solving approach, finding solutions in an open dialogue, achieving a favorable result for everyone.
Anonymous
Thanks everyone. He has another piece, 0.5 FTE assigned to his BAU and 0.5 FTE to this project. He is unhappy with the company, the project, the project structure and meeting frequency, as well as his capacity. All of which have been raised to his manager, my manager, the PM and senior sponsors as to be accommodating and changing this to suit. They also changed his workload and gave him extra resources and this behaviour has not changed.

I believe you may be right that I have to have a 1:1 with him about my feelings, not meekly (as I end up turning into), and have a discussion on how we can turn this around to a win win.

Thanks everyone for your responses, I appreciate it.

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