recently, I asked how to deal with PMs weaknesses from a team members point of view:

Is it the team members responsibility to correct PMs weaknesses? (or at least in his own interest)

I sense a wide agreement that team members should raise according questions to PM, but they might not always do so. This contradiction makes me wonder how a PM can encourage team members to behave as you consider it most helpful? To give you honest, yet respectful, feedback on your weaknesses? Probably not only you, but also within the team?

From my point of view, the ultimate minimum should be:

  • Behave yourself as you want them to behave. Give honest feedback, mention what is to be mentioned, but on a objective, non-personal level.

  • Repeat whenever possible that you are interested in their opinion and invite them to give feedback also un-asked, and mean it.

I think some of the principles discussed here How to improve the team-work? might apply for my question as well, but I think there might be more to say on that particular topic.

Thanks for your thoughts.

This is a lesson I've learned more as a manager than as a PM: don't treat people like you want to be treated; treat them as they want to be treated. Even if you expect honest and straightforward feedback it doesn't mean everyone does. I mean you should probably share your opinion but not necessarily "straightforward" is always the best way to go. BTW: personally I fail at that one pretty often, but it's really difficult thing to learn.

Also just telling people that you expect honest feedback is rarely enough. It should be stated but you can't consider the job being done even if you repeat it once in a while.

I think we should take it a level lower - you can't expect people will believe you when you ask for honest feedback or they will share their opinion with you unless they trust you. So the step number one would be building trust relationship. Then you probably don't even need to ask.

And when we are on trust, that's totally individual thing. Some people will just give you a credit of trust and unless you waste it they will be open with. Others will wait to see whether your actions are coherent with your words and then will drop their shields. And there are those who will be distanced for a longer time, no matter how hard you try.

Anyway, you can't go wrong being honest and transparent with whatever you do.

  • Fully agree with Pawel. Trust is what matters. – Stephan Mar 25 '11 at 22:17
  • When you recommend to treat them as they want - well, some people simply have never learned to value feedback at all, so do you recommend not to give feedback at all? And how can you expect them to give you feedback, when even you do not do it? Furthermore, taking it a level lower - so what to you do to establish trust then? – bonifaz Mar 26 '11 at 17:17
  • Treating people like they want to be treated is more about the way you behave, not about what you do. If I believe sharing feedback is important, and I do, I will share it even if someone doesn't really care. But the way I'll do it will depend on who I'm talking with. I can be either very direct, which I personally prefer, or work on hints instead if I believe it would work better. Regarding trust - it's hard to give a short answer. Doesn't it deserve question on its own? – Pawel Brodzinski Mar 26 '11 at 18:23

pawelbrodzinski's comments are very valuable to getting the right mindset for this. You have to make an environment that is condusive to open communications, not just say "No, really tell me how you feel."

As with pawelbrodzinski, I would leverage my people management training in this situation. I have applied the Manager-Tools trinity to project management with great success. I have project management one on ones with my team members on a weekly basis. Over time this has created a safe and open place to discuss all manner of things. The Manager Tools feedback model also has a project management version which works very well. Finally, their retrospective model, dubbed the Hotwash, is great for open brainstorming and then seperating the feedback from any decisions.

You have to create an environment of trust, before there can be trust. Mark Horstman likes to say "start looking for a problem in every widening circles about yourself." Make sure you are creating the right project team environment by example.

Best, Joel Bancroft-Connors, PMP

Very interesting topic.

Please define first, "PM weaknesses", weak in the person leadership, behavior, knowledge, skills, authority perhaps?

I think that the PM should always have formal authority and power on the project from the sponsors, this way the PM have the authority, with authority comes the power and should be no "weaknesses" from the PM, other way the PM will be assumed as weak.

I think the team is not responsible to correct the PM weaknesses, actually in a formal speaking, in the PMBOK, this issue is never mentioned (as I know, maybe some one can correct me). The only person responsible to correct the PMs weakness, is the self PM, as a project, PM performance should be measured and corrected along with the project.

Formal Project Management is not for everyone, PMs should hold credentials and be selected carefully by the sponsors, that is why PMs with experience and credentials are very valuable, of course not always or everywhere, but for sake of the PM profession we should target to it.

  • I don't see this question as being about formal project management. This isn't about PMBOK process, this is about how you deal with the people on your team. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Mar 25 '11 at 3:02
  • @Joel Bancroft-Connors- PMP, my question was meant to address both weaknesses formal project management as well as weaknesses in terms of communication with the team. Arturo, I think the PM cannot control himself. Of course he may "measure" his success along with overall project key criteria, but that can never be a replacement for the honest feedback from the team members. – bonifaz Mar 26 '11 at 16:43

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