Discussion Question: Two team members on the large multidisciplinary product testing team you project manage are consistently late turning in weekly reports. When you spoke with each of the team members individually, they both said, essentially, that you aren’t their manager so getting their reports to you is of secondary importance to them. What are two specific things you can do to encourage these team members to contribute to the project on time? (p. 312 Project Management Textbook)
I have this saying use all the time “agility and accountability over rigidity and responsibility”. For me, the best teams are agile and accountable, while these teams are capable of following the vision and structure created they are also dynamic enough to pivot when required. Contrast this with the rigid and responsible team who is adverse to change, struggles to work as a team or be accountable for that which they don’t have direct responsibility. In short, build “agile and accountable” self-managing teams.
Project managers have a difficult job, the project manager has to manage diverse teams with limited direct power. I believe that communication and constituency are keys to success, the project manager has to lead by clearly articulating a vision/purpose and getting people on board (garnering buy-in and building a constituency). The text references exploring the “why” (Portny, 2008, p. 218). There is a great TEDx talk by Simon Sinek that I think captures the power of starting with “why”.
Simon Sinek at TEDx: How great leaders inspire action
Sinek also has a book entitled “Start With Why” which further explores the ideas conveyed in the TEDx talk.
The text discusses power and influence, for me influence is power. The question is how to establish influence? In my opinion, the best way to do this is through contribution, the ability to understand the “why”, communicating the “why” to others and inspiring them is one way to contribute, subject matter expertise is another way to contribute. Regardless of the method of contribution, constituents don’t want to be commanded by you they want to be collaborating with you. In my opinion, achieved power is far more effective than ascribed power.
Given the specific problem with the two team members outlined I think there are two things, the project manager needs to ascertain.
- Is the individual’s direct managers goals aligned with the project.
- If the messaging from direct management is not aligned with the project goals is is likely a big reason for why the work is being turned in late.
- If direct management is aligned with the project goals, it might make sense to involve this person in a discussion with the problematic team member so they can realize that their direct management supports the project.
- Assuming the direct line manager is fully onboard with the project and has made this clear to the team member, it is possible that either this is just the wrong person for the team or maybe the wrong role on the team.
- The project manager should explore if and how they can garner buy-in from this individual.
- If they can’t garner buy-in they should quickly look to make a change.
Portny, Stanley E. (2008). Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.
Week 6 Exam (#3): 90%