The idea of a team is for everyone to work together. When one team member is having an issue, the entire team, by extension, is having an issue. As a project manager, deal with errant team members as soon as the problem is brought to your attention.
Meeting Team Members at their Level of Need
The idea of regular status checks is to avoid deadline issues. Even so, there are unforeseen circumstances that can put you behind on a project. What are those unforeseen circumstances? They could be, for example:
- Illness of a team member
- Termination of a team member (or they voluntarily leave the company)
- Client changes that warrant revamping the project plan
- Inexperienced team members
- Too many commitments across various projects
Any one of these could pose a problem. They all require a face-to-face meeting with the project manager.
Discussing Discipline with your Team Member
The best way to confront a performance issue is head on. It works best for everyone involved and is in the best interest of the team. Also, to respect privacy, hold this meeting behind closed doors.
- Describe the performance gap – Present your case to the team member. Discuss where their performance level is in relation to where the task timeline says that it should be. Bring up each incident in order of occurrence. A single issue could be dealt with by a visit to their desk to inquire about the reason. Save performance reviews for repeated problems.
- Explain the consequences of the missed deadline or poor performance – Present the consequences in relation to the project. Maybe another team member had to take on additional responsibilities to get the job finished without affecting the next milestone. The client may even have been upset by the missed deadline if it was a particularly crucial one to the project.
- Ask for the team member’s perspective on the issue – It’s always good to get the team member’s side of the story. If it was an illness, repeated absences or lack of productivity, allow them to explain in their own words. When they are done, repeat back to them what they have said to make sure you understand.
- Ask for suggestions to get back on track – Better results are expected when the team member is involved in solving their own problems. Instead of dictating what will be done, ask them to come up with suggestions for actions they could take to correct past behavior. Write down each suggestion and evaluate it for effectiveness.
- Document the new agreement – Once you come up with a viable solution (or solutions), write it down. Draw up an agreement documenting the issues that led to the meeting, the solutions that are in place and a future date for re-evaluation.