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Scenario:

I am coordinating a Project and it's been 6 months since I am working with a team of 9 resources. I've build trust and coordination with all but facing below problems with one of the member:

  1. For every task or change request requested by client, this member tries his best to avoid the work (giving so many reasons like technically not possible, client is asking again and again to do the change so I won't do, overestimating task/change request, etc) and it takes time and energy to convince this person to do the work.
  2. Clear specifications are given, even then no task is done right the first time, at least best case should work as per specifications. He need one person involved with him to check his work and suggest corrections. After 3-4 rounds of corrections, that work will be done
  3. Rather than providing a solution, always blaming others if some problem arises, saying it was not mentioned in specification, I was not given enough time to work on this task, tester did not check it properly, the problem is from other side (if he is doing front-end code, then without even checking say that bug is from back-end)
  4. Negative behaviour towards other team members, trying to manage them and forcing them to work in his way

    • I have observed some dishonesty towards work is there
    • I have observed him treating people less experienced then him like they are kids and don't know anything
    • Sometimes speaking in disrespectful manner

Conflicts arise with other team members which we resolve but we are putting a lot of time and not able to find the reason of this behaviour and hence no permanent solution.

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    Is it possible that this belongs in workplace stack exchange rather than PM :SE? This is more an HR/Supervisory problem than a PM problem. – Mark C. Wallace Apr 24 at 11:48
  • Perhaps you are right, but I needed advice from the experienced PM's on what will be their take in such a situation. And your comment made me realise that HR involvement is also required in this scenario. – rm_learning Apr 25 at 13:23
  • If you talk about a person using the word 'resource' you might have a deep underlying corporate culture problem. Developers who feel they are not recognized as people but seen as replaceable resources may react by showing unwillingness to support an organization that doesn't support them. – Hans-Martin Mosner Apr 25 at 16:11
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As with all marginally performing employees, you sit them down, you outline expectations and achievable objectives, you detail a timeline, and then you measure for improved performance. This is essentially a PIP, a performance improvement plan. If he fails to meet the objectives, you cut bait and replace. Since this is a "project," your runway is very short. You don't have the time or money to improve worker performance the way an operation does.

It's just like a cog on a machine. When the cog begins to perform poorly, you stop the machine, remove the cog, replace it with a new cog, and turn the machine back on. Since it is a human we're talking about, it's a bit more nuanced...but not much more nuanced. This is the cold and necessary part of leadership.

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It may well be that you need to engage the authority(!) of the person whom, in the eyes of Human Resources, this person actually reports to.

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From a PjM perspective, you may want to take the "friendly" approach. (Assuming you don't want to or cannot simply replace this troublesome resource, for whatever reason.)

Sit down with the problem in some neutral environment (maybe a bar nearby) and start by letting them talk. (Rant, is probably what you'll get.)

The less you talk the better; the aim is to get them to talk and see if there's some substance to their claims or are they fed-up and simply poisoning the environment.

You may want to occasionally inject a pointed question, based on data (maybe you want to prepare a printout with some specific data) to see how they react.

You may need more than a single session, the point being that you want to really get to understand their POV; do they see a real problem that you can try solve with them, or are they simply angry about something and are waiting to be fired.

Either way, you can try to solve their issue once you understand their POV: Maybe they want to be more or less involved in some part of the process, maybe they feel they deserve some bonus/recognition/raise or maybe they want to be removed from the project.

Once you feel you have a good understanding of the issue you can decide if you want to solve it or remove it.

Case study: Twice in my career I've had resources - who happened to come from different cultures - who felt slighted by the buddy approach. They thought I was being demeaning.

They preferred to be treated more in the Good morning Sir approach than in the Howzit, man approach. Once I clued in to the problem we had a great working relationship and remain steadfast colleges. ("Don't call me your friend! Sir!").

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