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Project team management
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As a project manager we are responsible for managing the team as well as keeping the teams morale high. However, if we discover that a team member proposed an idea or complains about an issue to a key stakeholder without your knowledge or talking to you first. How do you deal with this situation?
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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 !
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 07, 2017 11:13 AM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks for the feedback.
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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.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 07, 2017 11:16 AM
Anish Abraham
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Sante, I agree about ground rules. What if it's already established and still going over your head?.

thanks
Anish
Network:1723



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.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 07, 2017 11:17 AM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks Sonali for your response.
Network:1011



Anish -

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.

Kiron
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 07, 2017 11:23 AM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks Kiron, for your insight on this. If the ground rules are already established, the next thing PM can do is to have a private conversation with the team member to understand the reason for that behavior and if it's still not working try to engage the functional manager into this conversation.

thanks
Anish
Network:573



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.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 07, 2017 11:27 AM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks Meade for your valuable suggestion and feedback. I really appreciate it.
Network:1529



I think Sante hit it on the head. Ground Rules are essential.
Network:91274



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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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Dec 07, 2017 6:00 PM
Sante Vergini
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Stephane, then you haven't seen my communication plans or PM team ground rules.
Network:1514



Dec 06, 2017 11:57 PM
Replying to Deepesh Rammoorthy, PMP®
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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 !
Thanks for the feedback.
Network:1514



Dec 07, 2017 1:17 AM
Replying to Sante Vergini
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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.
Sante, I agree about ground rules. What if it's already established and still going over your head?.

thanks
Anish
...
1 reply by Sante Vergini
Dec 07, 2017 5:56 PM
Sante Vergini
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Then either you need to speak to the individual one on one and try to resolve the matter and enforce the ground rules, and if that fails, report them to their line manager. As a team member who has signed up for the role and agreed to the ground rules, they should not be doing that and you have a reason to escalate the matter.
Network:1514



Dec 07, 2017 4:24 AM
Replying to Sonali Malu
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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.
Thanks Sonali for your response.
...
1 reply by Lawrence Lyle, PMP CSSGB ITIL
Dec 07, 2017 6:05 PM
Lawrence Lyle, PMP CSSGB ITIL
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Yes. Stay Objective. Lesson Learn for all. Keep Team building Attitude!!!
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