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Depends on the Project Organization . If it's a Matrix , that team member probably reports to another line manager and does not report to you .
Therefore the best you can do is educate them politely that if they do not notify you of their concerns regarding a risk or issue , it may affect the project objectives or constraints and as the person in charge of the project, you are answerable to the sponsor, responsible about project issues and therefore any assistance that the team can give to you will be most appreciated.
If the idea is a project suggestion , unless it's early on in the planning stage, it may have the potential to effect the time, cost, scope or quality and may warrant a project change request. Again , encourage the team member to share innovative ideas with you as you are the spokesperson for the project.
You need to enforce that you are in charge , but have to do it with tact, patience and politeness.
The main thing to understand here is the reason that they have gone directly to that stakeholder in the first place is because they may have a good working relationship with them and this is the gap that as a project manager , you will need to plug. Develop the mutual trust with them.
They may not change their behavior in a day , but at-least they may understand the need to inform you in future if the way you pitch it to them is effective enough .
The Emotionally Intelligent Project Manager !
That's why you need to establish ground rules with the team at the beginning. It's almost taboo for a team member to be running to stakeholders with complaints before at least bringing it up to the project manager in the first instance.
Project manager should be the first point of contact for a team member when it is related to project work. I agree that line manager could be involved in case of matrix organization.
However, project manager should be able to build trust and be available for team members so that they can report to them first. Educate the team member privately that he/she should talk to you first rather than informing to other stakeholders. Also, inform all the team members about the same.
Kudos to Sante for highligting the importance of ground rules established by the team covering such common situations. I also recommend the PM to cover these ground rules as part of the onboarding for any new team members.
Having done that, expectations have been set, so if there is a variance then the PM should seek to understand why the team member is behaving that way, address any blockers which might be causing the team member to behave that way, and engage the team member's people manager (assuming a matrix organization) at the right time if direct conversation is not resulting in the right changes.
The reality of the matter is that you can't stop people from talking, complaining or not being open/honest with you.
I agree with setting ground rules and providing open forums to allow all team members to voice their opinion (you always want to hear what's on people's mind).
What I would suggest, is that you find out why they didn't come to you directly:
- are they unaware of the available channels of communication?
- are you intimidating them in some way? or feel they can't openly discuss the issue?
- are they looking to move up/out - ie.: self promotion
- is it just their base nature
Remember that you can not change other people to any large degree, you can only change how you react. Depending on how you react will determine how the team reacts in the future. Show that you are open to any type of communication or discussions and people will more likely come to you first.
I think Sante hit it on the head. Ground Rules are essential.
I've never seen ground rules that included "talk only through the project manager". I'm with Meade on this one. Ask yourself what you did, or didn't do, that contributed to the person circumventing you.
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