So I am managing a team of people, all working on different tech projects, I am now being given a hard time with the development team for one project because I do not know their project as in depth technically as them. One member is now starting to undermine my authority, despite being aware that I am managing several projects at once (and not writing low level code) and have brought a lot of technical value in terms of the overall direction of the project he working on organising and as a software architect.

How do other project managers deal with this - I find with developer in particular, they have a habit to undermine if you do not know the technicalities as well.

  • How is the developer in question undermining your authority?
    – G.H
    Dec 4 '15 at 14:39
  • 1
    What authority? Where does your authority originate, and how was it delegated to you?
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Dec 6 '15 at 17:52

My only advice is to read the book written by Kenneth W Thomas "Intrinsic Motivation at Work: What Really Drives Employee Engagement"

You are the driver and the team look at you to focus their effort on something the business and the customer need. You have to trust your team and give them full ownership on how they will implement the solution and let them know that they own the solution and its outcome. You are here to serve them if they need any external or internal help or resources and guide them when needed. Empower your team is the key for successful projects.You will be happy and your team too.

  • I was trying this approach originally, but then I realised (see my comment below) the less involved I was, the less they trusted me to drive the project. They also respected my role less, 'if we are owning and delivering, what is he doing?'
    – bobo2000
    Dec 4 '15 at 15:52
  • @bobo2000 You actually removed agency from your team to preseve your position. That sounds like an awful thing to say, did you perhaps misphrase? Dec 7 '15 at 2:57
  • Sorry - what do you mean?
    – bobo2000
    Dec 11 '15 at 11:17
  • To clarify, the issue is not giving them ownership - I encourage this. The issue is that I start to have to deal with arrogant behaviour leading to being less respected for the role I do for the team, which is exactly what you decrible.
    – bobo2000
    Dec 11 '15 at 11:23
  • You earn respect. If you aren't providing value to the teams you manage that's on you. Dec 19 '15 at 23:49

This is a difficult and challenging situation.

My recommendation would be to try and earn the respect of the team members. Do things that they regard as providing value, such as removing blockers and issues.

The important thing here is to be seen by them to be doing good. So you will need to focus carefully on how you explain your actions, what tasks you take on and just as importantly, which tasks you don't take on.

Even with this approach you may not win over all the team members. But it has been my experience that if the majority of a team see value in a Scrum Master then they will apply peer pressure to the team members that don't.

This is not an easy process and it is different to the traditional Project Management approach where teams are often just told what to do. It requires patience and a lot of perseverance.

  • Your team needs a Scrum Master who can define roles and responsibilities, and coach them in Scrum and make them work for you.

  • Since you are the product owner , some of your responsibilities should be 1)Active participation in Backlog refinement. 2)Prioritizing the stories 3)Giving sprint goals to team. (im not mentioning all your responsibilities.).

  • Ensure you are the owner of product backlog. Make it clear to every one.

  • Once the sprint starts let the team pickup the stories from sprint backlog. You dont assign any work them. Let them discuss and assign the stories to themselves.(Your Scrum Master should facilitate this.)

  • Discuss all issues openly with team during sprint retrospective and come up with action items. (Your Scrum Master should facilitate this.)

  • Show empathy for team. Listen their problems and solve them. (You and Your Scrum master should facilitate this.)

  • Btw - It looks you do not have Scrum master, which is causing all the troubles to you. If you have one, seems he/she is not working. Or, if your company do not budget for scrum master, be ready to do the Scrum master role also.

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