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Topics: Leadership
Junior Project Manager: Best way to handle senior managers who are part of the project team?
Hi everyone,

I am a junior project manager managing my very first project that involves a medium sized team of people. The project is refreshing all our PC's and laptops in our 33 offshore offices. The project has been managed by another project manager up until now and she was not well recieved by the team - her style of leadership was not what the team were used to. She is an excellent project manager and the project was well planned for me but the problem I now face is how to handle the team as a newbie (as well as the fact that the team are not enarmoured by pm's in general). Most of the project team are senior to me in terms of reporting outside the project and I am facing difficulties with the team not following the schedule or plan because 'they're the experts, it will be fine, you'll see'.

Any ideas on what style of leadership or approach is the best to deal with a situation/project of this nature? I would normally ask my boss and mentor but she is on leave for a while.

Any help much appreciated!
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The project was handed over to you as the new Project Manager, much planning has been done by the previous Project Manager which is a good starting point but I would go over again the planning stages to ensure it meets the expectations, that it is workable, take a step back and two forward! a step back to check out the requirements, delivarables, resources, budget etc work with the other teams get them involved and do agree a new delivery date if you think the project may require more time bearing in mind that the budget will also increase too. As for a style of management, look at the whole picture what is the organisational preferred style! that is your starting point and then manage your project within a controlled environment ensuring communication is top of your agenda. Put your own mark on the project be yourself, open to ideas and suggestions and ensure your stakeholders [senior managers] take responsibility for the very high level decisions that may impact on your project - good luck
Present the plan to the team and ask them for their feedback. This will help with their buy-in to the work remaining and pushes the ownership of their tasks and schedule to them. Dont be shy of quizzing them on the tasks that they'll be doing. Maybe flatter them somewhat to help them open up to you rather than the fob off you seem to be receiving. Dont let their seniority get to you either, for the purposes of the project, you're all on the same level with each person fulfilling a different role. Bring chocolate biscuits to meetings too - they'll be too busy eating to answer back! :-) good luck!
As the new PM, establishing credibility and trust amongst your team is an important step towards building a solid working relationship. You can achieve this by demonstrating you are in control, which can be done by understanding the scope of the project and all the key activities required to successfully deliver the project. As another poster suggested, work with your team to confirm the plan is sound, then verify the plan with the sponsors. Once the plan is validated, manage the plan assertively and ensure the contributors are moving in the right direction. Communicate profusely on risks and issues, and don't be afraid to ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed.

Good luck!
Tough situation, ask the team what they don’t like, i.e. resistance points etc. somewhere in there you can carve out a “win” to show them you are serous and get things done, it is hard to build trust with a team of this mix. You must be consistent for a period then you can make a reasonable request. You are in an emotional debit and credit situation learn critical negotiation techniques to ease the process.

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