9.4 Manage Project Team Process

The Manage Project Team Process is focused on resolving personnel issues and conflict, analyzing work performance information, taking preventative and corrective actions, and managing personnel-related changes to the project.

Many of these activities can be complicated by the dual reporting structures in functional or matrix organizations.

Not only is conflict possible between the project manager and the functional manager, but the project team member can encounter conflict between his or her project responsibilities and functional responsibilities.

The project manager should take the responsibility for successfully working through these issues with functional management.

The project management will use a variety of inputs for managing project team members, such as the team performance assessment (9.3), the roles and responsibilities document (9.1), the project staff assignments (9.2), and the human resources management plan (9.1).

Manage Project Team Process Decomposition

Manage Project Team Process Decomposition

Manage Project Team Process: Inputs

  • Project staff assignments
    Project staff assignments are the people assigned to develop the project’s deliverables.
    It’s needed for this process to know who is on the project team and who is responsible for what items.
  • Project management plan
    The human resource plan describes the processes and methods that will be used to manage the project team, including the methods for conducting performance appraisals.
  • Team performance assessments
    Team performance assessments measure the effectiveness of the overall team.
    These are really a measurement of how well the project management team is implementing the applicable components of the human resource plan.
  • Performance reports
    These provide performance reporting on activities, accomplishments, and issues.
    They're an output of the communication process Report Performance.
  • Organizational process assets
    These can include bonus structures, newsletters, commendations, or anything else that serves to influence or reward desired behavior.

Manage Project Team Process: Tools and Techniques

  • Observation and conversation
    The project management team needs to stay closely involved in the day-to-day activities of the team in order to monitor progress and get first-hand impressions from the team members.
  • Project performance appraisals
    These are the combination of formal and informal performance reviews of individual team members.
  • Conflict management
    Conflict must be managed or the performance of the team will decrease. Conflict is best addressed directly and through problem-solving, which is more likely to result in a win-win solution for all parties.
  • Issue log
    The issue log tracks all problems that prohibit the project team from achieving the project’s objectives.
    The issue log describes the issue, sets a target date, and assigns responsibility for resolving and communication of the issue.
  • Interpersonal skills
    Soft skills, like leadership, influencing, and sound decision-making helps the project team be more effective and reduces the changes in negative conflict.

Manage Project Team Process: Outputs

  • Enterprise environmental factors updates
    Updates as a result of Manage Project Team include items such as performance appraisals.
  • Organizational process assets
    Updates to the organization include lessons learned and checklists or templates that may have been developed or improved upon.
  • Change requests
    Staffing changes, for whatever reasons, are treated as change requests. Team performance issues can also result in the need for corrective or preventative actions.
  • Project management plan updates
    Approved changes result in updates to the human resource plan or its component staffing management plan.

Conflict Management

Conflict, debate, and differences of opinion are signs of an effective project team, but the even healthy conflict has to be managed and resolved or it can degenerate and negatively affect project relationships and performance.

The project manager, project management team, and the project team all need to be aware of and skilled in conflict resolution techniques.

In the project environment, conflict can come from seven main sources, of which the first three account for 50%:

  1. Schedules
  2. Priorities
  3. Manpower/human resource availability
  4. Technical opinions
  5. Procedural or project administration
  6. Personalities
  7. Costs

Conflict may initially only be evident by its side effects, and though not always a definitive sign of conflict, the project management team should find out if the conflict is a contributing factor in:

  • Slips in team or team member productivity
  • Withdrawal from team activities
  • Decrease in quality
  • Absenteeism
  • Decrease in communication, information silos, or "hoarding" of information
  • Hostility toward other team members, the organization, stakeholders, or project management team
  • Gossiping
  • Complaining
  • Blaming

Conflict Resolution

The proper way to approach conflict is to:

  • Focus on the problem or behavior and not on the person.
  • Express feelings in a way that doesn't blame.
  • Remember that everyone on the project team shares in its cause.
  • Empathize with others’ point of view.
  • Encourage honest, open, and respectful dialogue.

There are five broad categories for resolving conflict, and there are situations where each has its use:

  1. Problem-solving
  2. Compromise
  3. Forcing
  4. Smoothing
  5. Withdrawal

1. Problem-solving:

Problem-solving, also known as confronting, is the preferred approach because it's the one most likely to result in a win-win solution for all parties.

Problem-solving is a logical approach to finding the cause as well as the best solution.

It lets everyone discuss contributing factors and what the pros and cons are for each solution.

Problem-solving is best used when there is sufficient time to approach the problem and the group members have a certain level of trust with each other.

Problem-solving is also good at fostering team development because it involves everyone in exploring the issue.

2. Compromise:

Compromise is when all parties perform some give-and-take to reach a middle settlement.

Unfortunately, this results in a lose-lose solution because no one is truly happy with the solution.

Problem-solving is the best approach, but a compromise may be necessary when the time is scarce or there's a deadlock that can't be logically resolved.

Compromise can be especially difficult when there are strong internal values involved.

3. Forcing:

Forcing is using one's power to dictate his or her will on the group. Forcing results in a win-lose situation, and this is generally the worst approach.

It's harmful to team morale because the team is always in the losing position.

However, forcing may be necessary for critical situations when the stakes are extremely high and there is no time for identifying alternatives.

When force is needed, its ill effects on the team can be tempered by sharing the rationale with them.

4. Smoothing:

Smoothing is downplaying the issue or focusing only on the positive. It's really hiding from the problem, and it doesn't address the problem or even acknowledge that the problem exists.

Smoothing is not being optimistically healthy –it’s being

Pollyanna and is a poor conflict response. However, smoothing can be used to buy time or when one party believes the stakes are low and giving a "win" on this issue may be used to create an obligation later.

Smoothing can often be seen when one party gives in by saying something like “Well, it’s not important anyway, so you choose.”

5. Withdrawal:

Withdrawal is avoidance or hiding from the problem, so it's not even a conflict resolution technique.

Because it never addresses the problem, its effect will be only temporary and the problem will resurface later.

Withdrawal may be an option as a temporary measure when there's a need for cooling off or there are likely to be other alternatives that will present themselves if given enough time.

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