Sheilina Somani, RPP, FAPM, PMP, is the owner
of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project
Management, a senior project manager, a speaker
and a mentor.
Keeping a sense of rationality in these circumstances is invaluable. Appreciating other perspectives
and being willing to seek counsel from peers and
superiors before making the crucial decision of letting this team member go is really important. Having
been in this situation a few times now, I have used
the following strategies to help de;ne my next steps:
■ Review my processes and expectations
■ Discuss perceptions with the new person
■ Ask for a senior stakeholder to review with me
■ Discuss the rami;cations of letting the individual go
■ Set achievable short-term targets to test performance objectively
■ Seek feedback from others who interacted with
the new person
■ Shorten the timing and parameters of their work
to curtail a contract term
■ Conduct an exit interview
In four situations, I had to terminate contracts.
;e strategies above helped me determine that it
was unhealthy for everyone involved to retain these
individuals. Not only would morale be a;ected, but
the entire project could have been sunk.
Having the responsibility to captain your ship is
part of the joy of project management. However, you
are always held accountable for your actions. Focusing on your crew and its capacity will help ensure
the continued health and motivation of the team,
wider stakeholders and the ultimate outcomes.
As Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Only the guy who
isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” PM
The people aboard a ship all need to actively participate in the tasks and maintenance of the vessel
in order to make progress toward the destination.
When preparing to leave safe harbors, it’s all hands
on deck. Can we really a;ord non-paying passengers who don’t actively participate?
In project management, we see an analogous
situation when we have opportunities to recruit.
We ;nd prospective team members who appear to
have the skills and competencies we need, only to
discover that once aboard, their attitude is quite different from what they presented in the interview. So
what can you do after realizing you have a passenger, rather than a crew member, on your boat?
As a project manager, we rarely have the privilege of choosing our own team members. When
we do have the opportunity to choose, there is so
much to consider. We apply tested processes to
select the best candidate. But after training the
new team member, the unthinkable happens: ;e
individual you personally recruited proves unwilling (and perhaps unable) to do the job.
A combination of soul-searching and pragmatism takes much of your brain and psychological
processing power as you review all your processes
and considerations. Critically, you have to consider
the cost to the organization of facilitating passengers on a tight ship with demands across all
resources and accept this just isn’t going to work.
;ere are rami;cations: Perhaps your abilities
to recruit will come under scrutiny, or perhaps
your organization frowns upon quick exits. ;e
retention costs (;nancial, work and motivation)
to both the project team and the organization
could be signi;cant.
When project managers are recruiting for new
journeys, what do they do when the team
members aren’t who they seemed to be?
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, RPP, FAPM, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR