I am managing a project for a big company. The sales manager, who is supposed to be my POC, is not co-operating and actually causes many delays. I know I can send a lot of emails to everybody, including her and my managers, with the deadlines and delays, but I want to keep a good atmosphere and productive working relationship. How do I do that?
In this situation, I would get half-an-hour in the PoC's diary, and meet with her to discuss:
- Whether she knows the responsibilities of the role that she has been allocated;
- Whether she has sufficient time and interest to carry out the role effectively;
- Whether she has sufficient confidence in you that she doesn't know why you are bothering her with "trivia", or alternatively that she thinks that you are empowered to make some of the decisions yourself.
It may be that she will suggest someone else to take on the role of PoC, and if that person is enthusiastic (and authorised to make decisions) you should welcome this, but make sure that you don't leave the existing PoC in a difficult position.
At the very least, you will have raised these issues and should record the meeting in your project diary, and don't forget that if you can't resolve an issue yourself, the project structure exists to allow such issues to be escalated. Not a nice thing to do, but sometimes necessary.
Sometimes "good atmosphere" and "being productive" are counterparts. As long as you're a project manager and this is what your company is paying you for - focus on your obligations. I mean - be productive. Let the company worry about good atmosphere.
In practice it means (at least):
- Formally collect commitments to your plans from all project members, including her
- Formally report missed deadlines
- Establish an explicit human resource plan (with obligations, rewards, and penalties)
Well I have been at both ends of the ropes at certain point in time
As a project manager
- I remind the POC of their commitment either through polite email or a phone call
- I also send the summary of the conversation to my boss, POC's boss, and the POC itself
- It has helped me a lot as POC now knows that he will be held accountable should the project be achieving standstill
- Because every email is send at appropriate date, meaning when the POC misses a deadline and most importantly the emails are polite, they take care of maintaining the atmosphere.
Sometimes its better not to think about creating a good atmosphere because in the end you will be suffering if the project comes to standstill just because your POC is not interested in your work.
Another effective method I found was when working with a clothing store for their e-retailing website was that I used make certain decisions myself as I found them to be not interested in what I was doing. I took decisions about the design layout, the fonts, features etc. I just made stuff according to my uderstanding and then send them reports about this this and this has been done --> need your feedback. If no credible reply was there. I assumed that part of work to be done.
Key is formulate your email in such way that at later stage the POC will be held accountable for the wrong decision or missing features. This way you can also ask for extra $$ for doing more work than required.