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Topics: Ethics, Leadership, Talent Management
Have you ever been treated terribly by another project manager?
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Have you ever been treated terribly by another project manager while working on a project? What did you do to address this kind of behavior?
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There are many factors here, such as whether the PM is a peer or has authority over you, and why and how they treated you terribly. If the PM is a peer you can address their actions with them directly, but if the PM has authority over you your options will likely be more limited.
In both cases I suggest you make sure you minimize chances for the PM to blame you for things that go wrong on the project, or otherwise try to make you look bad to others. In my experience PMs often treat others badly when they’ve lost control of the project, and they’re worried about being blamed for its poor performance.
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I normally face such situations when we deal with my client's PM.
They commit to management / end user at their end based on my timeline commitments. Though they add cushion on top of my timelines, when those also fails ... it makes them to behave terribly !!!
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By treated terribly, is there a level of unprofessional-ism there as well? Address that and confront the behavior in a professional way yourself. Typically what I've found is that when you call a person out on their behavior, they will back down. If you seek to understand them and say something like "I want to understand why you said x,y,z in our meeting the other day because it could be construed by the team as a division between us, undermine both our authority etc." This lets them know that a) you're going to address their behavior and b) you're calling them on how ridiculous/inappropriate/unprofessional it was. They are usually someone who is terribly insecure and they'll go look for an easier target next time.
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Before to answer the question I need to understand it...Terrible means that the PM doesn't want to join the team for lunch, don't share information, or maybe is being un-ethical...

Anyway face to face conversation always helps to understand, maybe is only a cultural difference.
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I can well remember one instance when an executive in our organization, who was not in my chain of command, but who was several levels above me in the hierarchy, came into my office and "exploded" with anger over the way I had carried out one of my responsibilities. A couple of my employees were in my office at the time who witnessed this terrible treatment. After letting this explosion dwindle, I told the executive I would follow up, and asked him to leave. Immediately, I addressed my employees who witnessed this explosion and made a distinction between the message and the delivery, and shared my definition of professionalism. That definition precluded the kind of behavior they just witnessed; I took the opportunity to reinforce that I expected neither they, nor I, would behave so unprofessionally. I then met with the boss of the executive who exploded, explained the unprofessional behavior of his employee, and asked that he direct his employee to immediately come to apologize to my employees who witnessed the explosion, and to me. An hour later, the exploding executive did come to apologize. Disagreement and differing points of view may occur, but unprofessionalism should not be tollerated.
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In many organizations and cultures this is a tolerated and accepted behavior. You will discover this randomly or regularly over your career. You have many great options here to choose from but certainly this fall within the "code of conduct" for PMPs, the HR ethics and in some organizations "zero tolerance"policy for sexual harassment. You should know the difference between the three examples I've given which will guide your direction or action you should take. Also, consider your action and ask yourself if you could have handled the situation differently? Reflect, brush up on your conflict management, EI and situational awareness. Many times in these situations it's what you don't do (react to) and much as what you act upon to move past these difficult situations.
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Thanks everyone for reply and offering different perspectives. Thanks Mike for sharing experience. Completely agree with Naomi that it falls under 'the Code'
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Bad behavior is, in one simple word, disrespectful. If you work in a workplace where disrespect is tolerated, then there will be rudeness, intolerance, impatience and even bullying and harassment. Such behavior is diabolical for team engagement and project success.

I've had a number of project experiences where either myself or a project team colleague was treated terribly. I've learned skills to take action to prevent, manage and even eliminate unacceptable behavior. First, I model proper workplace behavior and all my projects include behavioral expectations as part of the project charter. Second, it's important to ensure that as soon as you or others witness disrespect that you take action to address the problem This will take courage and strategic thinking but by doing nothing, you have condoned the behavior.

Also, it's worth mentioning that if the behavior is coming from another PMP, our Code of Ethics mandates that we take action. Respect is one of the pillars of our Code and disrespectful treatment of others falls under this pillar. So - neutrality isn't an option.

We all can and should take action if we or our colleagues are treated badly by another person in our workplaces or on our projects.
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I have been too. I am assuming it is related to his/her attitude and throwing some unethical things or conduct at you. This is something we have to take seriously, but before then we do our homework, like confronting, engaging in the positive way etc. If nothing works, you have to inform your boss and follow next steps.
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Thank you for asking Alankar.

I guess we all have plenty of stories to tell. However, the one that I can share here is while working for a consulting organisation a few years back, I was asked to manage a global program that wasn't in its best shape. The client was not happy at all where the projects were late and the program was not delivering, My first meeting with the client was via a conference call (we were based in different cities) where he was attacking the company I was working for and me personally (though I just started). I respectfully told him that I have no control over what has been done before me. However, I can be held responsible for the program from that day onwards and will be doing my best to put things back on track and rectify. Later that day, I received an email from him apologising for his behaviour, where he said that his team brought to his attention that his action during the conference call was not appropriate.

Unprofessional behaviours could happen anywhere, anytime. I think the test is how we react to these situations that will ensure we stay respectful, honest, fair and responsible, we adhere to our PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, upholding the 4 values and ensuring that we have a safe work environment.

Dealing with these situations whether we are the target or someone else, requires courage and wisdom. Courage to speak-up and wisdom to ensure that whatever approach we take, it will aim to rectify and send a strong message that unprofessional behaviours are not accepted.
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