5

Most PMs are driven by results, and that is probably a good thing, most of the time. However, I have a colleague who has become utterly focused on delivery, and won't accept any answer that she doesn't want to hear. This results in her challenging everything that she is told, upsetting junior members of the team, alienating suppliers, and getting personally involved in even trivial decisions. Members of the team have asked for my advice on how to approach her.

What advice would you provide to the team, and is there a way that I could help to resolve the situation without damaging a long-standing working relationship with the other PM, that has been positive until now?

4

To answer your question: a PM should be effective. He/she should finish projects on time and in budget. If it's necessary to be pushy - be pushy.

On the other hand, in your situation, it's clear that the PM is not effective any more. The team complains and this will lead to problems very soon. It means that the PM is "pushy" too much. The team should analyze the root cause of this situation. Why the PM is behaving like this? Why did she choose this method of management? Maybe the team was not performing well recently?

General advice is to start an open and honest dialog. The team has to raise its concerns and discuss them. Don't hide problems, discover them and resolve.

3

I think most of it is "in the approach".

Staying pushy long term will grow resentment, leading to the "bare minimum to get the job done".

Encouragingly pushy is slightly different. You can drive people, sitting next to them, checking frequently, offering to remove hurdles or find people that can. Refocusing on the goal consistently, while taking their concerns into account as you do it, I find is far more effective long term (when I do it consistently).

1

It might be possible that the problem is not really with the PM. It's important to examine what may have changed:

  • Did someone lie to the PM, causing her to distrust the team?
  • Are functional managers withholding resources, or are team members who are not dedicated having more of their time taken from the project?
  • Are people doing things behind the PM's back when she asked for X to be done instead of Y?
  • Are there problems in the project itself? Is the project going to be cancelled?

If there are no answers to these questions, then the problem could be related to the PM:

  • Is she burned out? Is she working too much?
  • Are there personal problems affecting work?
  • Is the PM effectively delegating tasks to the right people?

Answering these questions could give more insight into what may be happening and could lead to discussions regarding how to fix these problems.

1

Looking at your description of the situation,in my view a point to investigate would be this statement

"who has become utterly focused on delivery"

I would be strongly inclined to do a reality check on the PM , whilst she has lofty expectations , is the project environment that she has created congenial to delivering those expectations ?

are her expectations fair ?

does she havw the people with the right skills ?

people are not happy, why are they not happy ?

bottom line is , however pushy she can be , if things are not quite right she would not be able to get anything substaintiable out of the team

so, I would start with the PM first...

1

Focusing on delivery is not a bad approach as long as it doesn't affect the health of the projects. However if this is the case where the PM just wants to deliver projects regardless of the quality then something is definitely wrong.

I agree with yegor256 in starting an open and honest dialogue. Perhaps this PM has been also pushed by her line manager to achieve certain figures, releases or anything that requires the team to develop.

If this person has recently changed her attitude towards the team and their achievements I am pretty sure that something has happened or her direction has changed. As her colleague you could try to discuss with her.

Should this not be the case and this person is conflicting with the team and your goals as organisation I would recommend you to talk to your next level of management. This person might need some training or simply be told that her attitude is affecting the team.

1

This PM is alienating her team, is perceived to be pushy, is not listening to what others are saying. This has NOTHING to do with her being a certain type of PM making sure things get done on time and within budget. It is ALL about the perception of her team that is using all of these negative adjectives to describe her. Unequivocally, she is exhibiting poor leadership/management traits and is an all together ineffective PM. There is no scenario that would justify a PM acting in such a way such that her team walks away with these perceptions.

Clearly, her soft skills--which is, what, 80% of leadership?--are immature or missing. She needs trained or replaced.

0

Depends on the situation -- some of the team members are very effective if they are pushed and some of them if you leave them alone.

Sometimes it is healthy for the team to become pushy with the whole team (I am doing this) and remind them that project MUST be delivered on time and in budget and most important to have one more great testimonial from the clients after the project is closed.

As a summary, this strongly depends on the situation, the team and the position of the project manager (you cannot be effectively pushy if you are not respected by the team).

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