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Topics: Resource Management
Uncooperative project member
How do you deal with one of your project member that not cooperative? The project is on going and you have been assigned as PM in the middle of the project (so you didn’t choose him/her, you just accept). This member is very difficult people and destroy the other team morale. But you can’t just get the rid of he/she because it will impact the project schedule and cost.
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First, accept that this is a difficult situation for you as a PM. Once you accept, even the tedious small steps you make to get this project member to listen will work. So, based on the situation you are in, for example, if during a meeting, slowly guide this person back to the topic of discussion or the priority item and if it is during other times, like at desk or talking to other people or going in the wrong direction, just smilingly walk by, nudge this person off of the negative topic and divert the team into a more positive discussion. If you can handle(depending on this person's personality), then do a one on one confrontation and talk carefully, smilingly, and of course positively to understand and influence his experience to gain results in the project work. Hope this helps.
I agree with Deepa, moreover try to communicate with that member more interactively, try to buy-in, gain trust, always affirm-say positive thing about him/her and maintain positive body language and tone.
Reality is a matter of perception. And it seems that both have a problem situation to face with. But problem is the gap between reality as perceived and reality as desired. So, you have to work in the perception, in the desire or in the gap to solve the problem situation. And this is valid for your team member and for yourself.
First of all accept that team member. As a PM, we are supposed to deal with different personalities.
Try to engage him/her in the project work by asking opinion in the meetings, asking suggestions, delegating some extra responsibility, etc. Sometimes team members do not feel belong to team/project and thats why they create trouble for the PM. If you start engaging such resources, they will feel challenged or being heard, so definitely they will involve more into the project.
Also, as Deepa and Nian suggested, try to get buy-in, gain trust, build positive attitude will help you in this situation.
Agree with the others suggestions - and to do so look at Sergio's response. We can see what is needed, the how is more difficult.
Sisca, as PM's conflict is a part of any project. Think of this as an opportunity. I would try to engage the person to find out what the source of the lack of cooperation is and then try to work through that difficulty. It may simply be the person doesn't feel they're input is valued.

The other thing is to not be perceived as attacking the person so the approach should be from you wanting to understand what is on that person's mind. Depending on the situation I would offer to sit down and have a cup of tea in a neutral setting.

Good Luck, these are the challenges that teach us how to be successful PMs.
A key to this issue is to find out if this person is a negative person, has a negative attitude to all aspects of their work, or poor interactive capability with other people, if there is a medical condition. Ask their manager about this person.
If you find that the issue is negativity towards the project itself, the next step is to engage with the person and find out why they are negative about it. They may have some fundamental reason that is valid for them, or it may be antipathy towards change itself, or there could be some underlying message they are tired of trying to communicate and have devolved into the attitude. Whichever reason, you have a basis to address the issue.
Above all remember this should not be about you. If this person has a personal issue with you, then you have to escalate the issue and ask for HR assistance because it is not something you alone can address.
Be prepared to be guided by others that have been working with this person a lot longer and closer than you have as they can offer key insights.
Sometimes the resolution can be as simple as asking, during meetings, for the person to explain themselves, acknowledging them for their valued insight, and making them feel included and useful - sometimes.
Above all, practice thoughtful patience and listen closely.
Regular communication with the uncooperative team member is a key as it has been mentioned. Find out what are the area of disagreement , and help him/her to see how important his positive contribution his to the success of the project. Create common ground with which he can relate positively with you and other team members.
Some good suggestions have been offered, I think getting to the root of the individual's issue and trying to transform their negativity is ultimately your aim. I like the ideas presented by Sonali to attempt additional engagements/responsibilities with the team member that may give him or her more personal connection and accountability to the projects success. Most importantly you should take care to ensure to redirect the team members negativity so that it does not infect your project team morale.
Some years back, i managed a project where the team members were from all parts of a very large organization. Each of those team members, at the outset, wanted to reflect own organization's take on the project and its eventual deliverables.

As we progressed, most of the team members began to buy into the goals and objectives, and started contributing as part of a team, and not simply a group of people in the same room.

One team member has his own ideas. We would break for about five minutes or so during meetings, and he would always head for the rest room. it didn't take too long to realize that what he was doing was really going to find a phone to discuss our conversations with his boss in the office. When I first discovered it, the phones in the offices in the team area suddenly disappeared. Since the area was secure, and they had to turn off and turn in their cell phones, and there was no outside network, the team member started to freak out about his 'problem'.

We discussed his place on the team at length, in private, and how he could contribute based on his own experience. Over a period of about three days, he began to really contribute on his own. I suggested to him that, if he wished, i would 'clear' that with his supervisor--something for good reasons he preferred I not do.

The bottom line was that he, as a team member, had to begin to work with, trust, and become a part of the team. He needed to break frequent contacts with the outside--we wanted his ideas, not those of his boss. I knew it was beginning to work when his boss would call periodically, asking about progress, and I knew he was not getting behind-the-scenes information any longer.

By the end of the project, this team member was one of the strongest proponents of the solutions and deliverables we developed. Using insight, communication, compassion, mentoring, and engendering trust can usually bring someone around to desired behavior.
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