In Part 1 of this two part series on dealing with egos and problem resources on your projects, we discussed the need to take charge of the project early on and show your team that you are in control. And after establishing that with your team, you must continue to maintain control…it’s definitely an ongoing process and – sometimes – battle. We even discussed getting them engaged at the outset by utilizing mind mapping software to get them intricately involved in the project goals and direction as a way of overcoming some of the ego and conflict issues that might be coming to light.
In this Part 2 we’ll examine the need to be respectable, gain their respect, and then maintain your credibility with them throughout the engagement. And if that doesn’t work, as a last resort you may need to make that unfortunate move to replace one or more resources on the project.
Sometimes all you have to fall back on is respectability and credibility. Take it and run with it. But just putting it out there won’t always do the trick. I’ve managed to immediately garner support and respect from an otherwise unruly and somewhat rogue development resources on projects just be letting them know that I was once a developer and a manager of many development resources. But that will only work some of the time. Other times – you’ll need to display that expertise or knowledge…which is more the norm. You’ll need to be able to talk the talk technically and walk the walk to get their following and respect and compliance. Call them on some estimates, show knowledge where they aren’t expecting it. Surprise them. And then be consistent so they know it’s not a fluke.
As a last, last, last resort you may have to replace a resource or two. Did I mention this needs to be your very last resort? It will probably get the job done. It will remove the big ego or egos from your project that were causing conflicts or hindering your project leadership. The problems though are probably obvious. You will have lost credibility as a strong leader. That credibility will be lost both with your remaining project team members AND your senior company leadership (PMO Director and above, most likely). It’s not a good place to be in…you cried for help. If the problem resource wants off the team, let them. But try not to be the one to demand a replacement for a resource you just can’t handle…unless you can definitely document how they were truly hurting the project as a whole and the rest of the team…and possibly even the customer (because that’s big with senior management). And, if you lose one or two resources this way, then keep in mind that you’ll also need to replace them. Bringing on new resources and getting them properly and productively up to speed while maintaining customer confidence and satisfaction is tricky and it is not a sure thing. It can take considerable time and budget and it can definitely adversely affect the project’s chances of success.
All these things are aimed at gaining and maintaining respect and control. That’s by far the best route to take when you’re dealing with egos that are clashing with you or each other and you’re trying to stay at the helm of the ship. The last resort, of course, is to get rid of the resource problems. But that leaves you without the resources you needed and now you have to replace them. Plus, you had to call in help…and that can be damaging to your reputation as a leader. Again, do that as your last resort.