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How to resolve conflicts in project when:

  1. No roles are clearly defined (eg. no project charter).
  2. Project manager is sluggish / incompetent.
  3. Technical people feel like more competent than PM.

Bit of explanation:

  1. This results in personal conflicts - who is in charge of technical aspects? Who is contacting with client?
  2. Nothing is done on time. Resources can't be provided. Project manager is only focused on delivering features but not on quality.
  3. Project members feel like being on slowly sinking ship. They aware of obstacles / problems but project manager apparently is not.

I'm looking forward for not-so-obvious answers (like changing the PM) :)

  • 1
    Maybe you can explain a bit more what kind of leadership conflicts you mean. Project not going anywhere? Conflicting opinions leading to stagnation? etc. – ashes999 Feb 9 '11 at 19:46
  • The answers to your previous question here: pm.stackexchange.com/questions/156/… contain some relevant information – blueberryfields Feb 9 '11 at 20:12
  • 2
    Who is going to resolve conflicts? I mean, who is asking the question? The PM? The project sponsor? Or one of those technical people? Depending of this information the answer will be completely different.. – yegor256 Feb 10 '11 at 13:37
  • @yegor256: add questions to the asker by commenting the question, so pixel can edit the question in order to get a better answer based on your comments. – Johnny Feb 11 '11 at 15:05
11

Seems more like lack of leadership than leadership conflicts.

Getting attached to specific roles in this kind of situation isn't the best solution. I'd look for leadership among the project team, and wouldn't care whether one's title is PM or tech lead or whatever. If I found the person I'd give them power to make project-related decisions and support those decisions, as otherwise it would ruin their authority.

Another thing to do is clearly setting up responsibilities. Who does what. Who is responsible for what. Again, I wouldn't care much about who should do what basing purely on their title - I'd look more for people who genuinely care about quality/scope/budget/client satisfaction/you name it.

If you have a good meeting facilitator at hand, possibly not someone from the team, you can also run a meeting where you try to call all the issues, possibly solve them or set solutions to avoid them in future to improve cooperation within project team. In other words run a project retrospective now. But if you don't have an arbiter it may get out of control and become more of a flame than constructive discussion.

If above doesn't work you may want to refer to formal responsibilities, e.g. PM should do this, this and that and if they don't management should take care about that. However as long as I don't have to I wouldn't go for that as it would only make personal conflicts more intensive. Another step is asking for changes in project team - finding anyone with strong leadership skills to join the team (or get exchanged for someone from the current team) and informally take the sinking ship over.

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