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Topics: Change Management, Communications Management, Stakeholder Management
How do you deal with under performing team member?
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Based on my experience people can have fluctuating motivation level, and sometimes it could be because of problems in their personal life. But as a project manager we need to motivate team members to produce the most out of their capacity. In this particular case, the project milestone is approaching and you noticed that a key team member is not performing well, and if this is continuing you may not hit the target date.

How do you deal with this issue?
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What I do is create a Weekly deliverable list on MS Excel. I look at my MS Project plan to select tasks that are falling behind or task that will be due in the next few weeks. I line item each task on MS Excel. To make it look like I'm not singling out a person. I send out a Weekly Deliverables list to all the key players so they all are aware of what is going to be due. The objective is for the team to update that spreadsheet with their progress and comments on meeting the due dates. I use the updated spreadsheet to update my MS Project.

I also send out that list of deliverables to the teams manager so they are aware of the deliverables too.

When I see the updates on activity for the struggling team member I talk to them to offer advice or help. Some times you also need to speak to the manager of the struggling team member.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Jan 03, 2018 8:39 AM
Anish Abraham
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Drake, thanks for your feedback on this. It looks like communication is the key and I like the way you keep track of your deliverables and tasks.
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We need to identify the root cause for the dismal performance of the resource. It could be as simple as clarifying to the resource what exactly is required and how the resource can actually deliver it to bring the performance back on track. Or it could be something more challenging. For example, if the resource lacks the skill set or competencies required then it is evident that we cannot meet the timelines without looking for replacing the under performing resource with another much capable resource. Once a replacement is in place, we must not forget to train the under performing resource!
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2 replies by Anish Abraham and Mahalmadane Touré
Jan 03, 2018 11:01 AM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks Priya for your input on this. I agree that we need to find the root cause of the problem and try to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Jan 03, 2018 7:19 PM
Mahalmadane Touré
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I agree with you Mr Priya.
Network:1058



Anish -

Motivation comes from within, not without. All we can hope to do is to understand why someone is underperforming and help address the blockers holding them back. In most cases, addressing the root cause will result in an improvement in performance but it might not be quick enough to meet a near term milestone date. In rare cases, the person might be disengaged to the point where they can't be inspired to perform and then depending on the organizational power structure (e.g. matrix, project-oriented, functional), you'll need to find the best way to replace them.

Kiron
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Jan 03, 2018 6:22 PM
Anish Abraham
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Kiron, I agree with you and thanks for your feedback on this.
Network:1540



Jan 03, 2018 5:13 AM
Replying to Drake Settsu
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What I do is create a Weekly deliverable list on MS Excel. I look at my MS Project plan to select tasks that are falling behind or task that will be due in the next few weeks. I line item each task on MS Excel. To make it look like I'm not singling out a person. I send out a Weekly Deliverables list to all the key players so they all are aware of what is going to be due. The objective is for the team to update that spreadsheet with their progress and comments on meeting the due dates. I use the updated spreadsheet to update my MS Project.

I also send out that list of deliverables to the teams manager so they are aware of the deliverables too.

When I see the updates on activity for the struggling team member I talk to them to offer advice or help. Some times you also need to speak to the manager of the struggling team member.
Drake, thanks for your feedback on this. It looks like communication is the key and I like the way you keep track of your deliverables and tasks.
Network:2536



The key is communication and the sooner the better. Talk to the employee privately and ask what you can do to help them meet the deliverable. Be honest and straight forward that you are concerned about them and the project. They may tell you they are having personal problems or they are struggling with on aspect of the task. After this conversation you will be able to make the decision on whether to continue, find technical support/coaching or consider a replacement.
Regular communication and honesty solves 90% of the issues with teams.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Jan 03, 2018 6:27 PM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks Dinah, for your response and I agree that communication is the key on these types of issues.
Network:1540



Jan 03, 2018 7:12 AM
Replying to Priya Sanjeevi Raja
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We need to identify the root cause for the dismal performance of the resource. It could be as simple as clarifying to the resource what exactly is required and how the resource can actually deliver it to bring the performance back on track. Or it could be something more challenging. For example, if the resource lacks the skill set or competencies required then it is evident that we cannot meet the timelines without looking for replacing the under performing resource with another much capable resource. Once a replacement is in place, we must not forget to train the under performing resource!
Thanks Priya for your input on this. I agree that we need to find the root cause of the problem and try to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Network:29



I like the idea of weekly deliverable list suggested by Drake. I have often had to go one further and resort to a daily deliverable list. Even for a waterfall project, a daily stand up to go over pending tasks/deliverable can be helpful to keep performance on track and provide early warnings when targets are not going to be met.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Jan 03, 2018 6:25 PM
Anish Abraham
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Shane, thanks for your feedback on this. I like the idea of both weekly and daily deliverable list. This will definitely provide early warning signs.
Network:75



I agree with others in this thread, communication is key in finding the root cause.

There can be a variety of reasons why a team member is not performing well and each will have a different resolution pathway. When I notice that a key team member is not performing well, I'll pull them aside for a private, open and honest conversation.

I find it useful to discuss the team members passion for project work in the first place. If you can identify what motivates them, it then becomes easier to identify an appropriate resolution.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Jan 03, 2018 6:31 PM
Anish Abraham
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Jonathan, thanks for sharing your insight on this and I really appreciate it. Like you suggested, the best way to move forward is to have an open conversation with the team member.
Network:1540



Jan 03, 2018 7:57 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
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Anish -

Motivation comes from within, not without. All we can hope to do is to understand why someone is underperforming and help address the blockers holding them back. In most cases, addressing the root cause will result in an improvement in performance but it might not be quick enough to meet a near term milestone date. In rare cases, the person might be disengaged to the point where they can't be inspired to perform and then depending on the organizational power structure (e.g. matrix, project-oriented, functional), you'll need to find the best way to replace them.

Kiron
Kiron, I agree with you and thanks for your feedback on this.
Network:1540



Jan 03, 2018 5:22 PM
Replying to Shane Drieberg
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I like the idea of weekly deliverable list suggested by Drake. I have often had to go one further and resort to a daily deliverable list. Even for a waterfall project, a daily stand up to go over pending tasks/deliverable can be helpful to keep performance on track and provide early warnings when targets are not going to be met.
Shane, thanks for your feedback on this. I like the idea of both weekly and daily deliverable list. This will definitely provide early warning signs.
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