(I understand that this question may be discussed in a pretty wide sense. However I want to focus on its relevance to PM / PM teams).

Imagine a PM who does not seem to be qualified in several regards, fails to be exact on meetings and dates, provides poor communication, but nevertheless for some reason was raised to that position. Even worse, the PM himself seems to be very convinced of his work and self-confident.

The consequences are not to severe, but nevertheless the project team suffers under those weaknesses.

Do you think it is the team members responsibility to continuously silently correct PMs weaknesses? Bring it to his attention (risking that he may be either insulted or just give it a shrug)? Or just give it a shrug as well, similar to what the PM himself is doing?

  • The team has to try to change the PM – yegor256 Mar 23 '11 at 19:01
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would say that it is team's responsibility to make PM aware of the issues in this way or another. Specific method may depend on a situation and specific person so the team may start talking directly with the PM or with PM's manager or with own manager. Either way it's their job to share their expectations and their view of things with PM (either directly or indirectly).

Another thing is whether they should correct PM's behavior and here I think it's more an issue for PM themselves or PM's manager. Team members aren't in the best place to play the role of the coach as they are very subjective here.

And there's one more perspective, which is project itself. For the good of the project it is possible and sometimes even preferred to have team overtaking some of PMs responsibilities. It shouldn't however be done instead but as an addition to letting others know about the problem.

  • Talking about team overtaking PMs responsibilities, do you advice to do silently (i.e, without mentioning to PM), or making it public (i.e, at least tell him about that, which might have negative impacts though) ? – bonifaz Mar 24 '11 at 21:28
  • Pretty much depends on a specific situation. Anyway, as a rule of thumb: praise should go public and critic should be dealt privately, so by default first move I'd consider would be direct, one-on-one discussion. If it doesn't work or I expect it's very likely to fail I might start with something different, e.g. escalating to my or PM's manager, yet I'd still keep it private. No need to wash one's dirty laundry in public. – Pawel Brodzinski Mar 24 '11 at 22:41
  • I think that the Project Sponsors should fix the PMs poor performance, as a customer, if the project is behind schedule, quality, lack of communications, etc, its the PM ultimate responsible of the project, the team is under PM management, so if a team member is not performing, PM have to correct this. As a sponsor, the one who pays, can approve drastic changes on the project, even change of PM. – Arturo Caballero Mar 25 '11 at 16:18
  • I think that the Project Sponsors should fix the PMs poor performance, as a customer, if the project is behind schedule, quality, lack of communications, etc, its the PM ultimate responsible of the project, the team is under PM management, so if a team member is not performing, PM have to correct this. As a sponsor, the one who pays, can approve drastic changes on the project, even change of PM. – Arturo Caballero Mar 25 '11 at 16:19

On any given team, each member has strengths and weaknesses. The PM is not immune to that. In fact, most teams are filled with only average performers. It is the entire team's collective responsibilities to identify team weaknesses and jointly figure out how to overcome them if the desire is to become a high performing team.

It is not certainly not about "correcting" the PM. It is about filling the void in a capability and the void closure should be done on each team member. And if a team member's "own interest" is at play here, then the team is suffering from far more than a PM with a few weaknesses.

  • Well, I think to some extent everybody is following his "own interests", right? I don't think that's particularly bad, it just needs to be ensured that members "own interests" is aligned with project targets, as far as possible. – bonifaz Mar 24 '11 at 21:26
  • I think when a team becomes very high performing, individual self interests either are demoted in deference to the team's, or they evolve to align with the team's, or both. I believe that is a sort of natural process and byproduct of teaming. If that has not occurred, then the team still has more growing to do. – David Espina Mar 25 '11 at 13:21

Communication is key here. If you are a team member and you see a weakness in the capabilities of the PM which is having a negative impact on the project (that last clause is key), you do have a responsibility to yourself, to the project, and to the PM to approach them privately with your concerns. An honest dialog is helpful for everyone involved.

The absolute worst thing that could happen is for the team to snicker or back-bite about the PM's perceived lack of ability in this area. This will undercut trust amongst the entire team, and trivialize the importance of the project -- and unfortunately, this is the most common outcome.

There are two ways to make this work. The first relies on a solid relationship with the PM and an agreement that the PM is willing to be coached. The second way - and the most common - is as Pawel stated. Raise issues. If it 's not an issue for the project, then it's performance management and that's between the PM and his/her direct manager.

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