Have you ever had a project resource that wasn’t really contributing? Who am I kidding…if you’ve managed more than 10 projects, chances are you’ve run into this.
You know the ones…their contribution is low or non-existent. They aren’t serving a purpose on the team. It may even have been their last ditch effort to show worth to the entire organization and it just didn’t happen. In a sense, they are your excess baggage. They aren’t helping the project and are a continuing drain on the project budget and the rest of the team. You’re not even sure if you need to replace them or just remove them. I realize this can be a touchy subject, but it does come up and how it is addressed can be critical to project success and even customer satisfaction.
Has this ever happened to you? I can tell you that it has happened to me and it’s never an easy thing. Why? Because you’re not the team members’ direct supervisor so you don’t have hiring and firing responsibility. But you do have input into their job performance. And stating flat out that a resource is providing no benefit to the team against what they are charging to the project budget is a pretty strong statement. And in the two cases that I was personally involved in, it did directly lead to their termination from the company. So be prepared… In order to remove excess baggage from your project, be ready with the necessary documentation so it is clear what action you’re taking and why. This will help you and it will help senior management to make the moves they have to make as a result of your efforts. As for me, I followed these steps….
Start the paperwork/documentation. The assumption, of course, is that before you get to this point you’ve had discussions with the resource and tried some corrective action. If that hasn’t helped to any useful degree, then we move on to this first step.
If you’ve ever been a resource manager with direct responsibility for the hiring, firing, and performance evaluation of a resource then you know what this means. You need to document your reasoning. And in this case it may be documenting task progresses from your online project management software for the tasks assigned to the specific resource. It likely will involve showing in your project budget how much effort they have charged to the project and what’s been accomplished – or in this case what hasn’t been accomplished.
Document any customer discussion/feedback. It may not be enough to just show information from your web-based project management software on effort versus progress. You may need some well-documented customer feedback. If the customer is stating that you have a problem resource, that will weigh very heavily with your senior management and it’s in your best interest career-wise to do something about it. Because if you don’t, you also become part of the problem through inactivity or denial.
Discuss with your management or PMO director. It’s critical as the project manager that you make your management (likely, the PMO director) aware of the situation as early as possible. If it is evident that corrective action on your part is not helping and the resource is dead weight on the project and a drain on the project budget, then your senior leadership must be made part of the course of action. Get their buy-in to the removal of the resource and move on to the next step.
Meet with the resource’s supervisor. If you’ve been forced to this point – meaning all corrective action steps have yielded no positive results, then the next step is to meet with the resource’s management and discuss removal from the project. Show them the information you’ve gathered from your project management software tool as backup to the discussion. Your senior management or PMO director, if applicable, should be part of this meeting as well. What the resource manager does with the resource after this point is up to them. But since your primary responsibility is to the project, your customer, and the rest of your team, you must act responsibly and firmly request that the resource be removed, no matter what the consequences may be for the resource.
Get back to business as usual. This one is pretty self-explanatory…back to business. The next thing that must be determined is that you were correct in your assessment that the outgoing resource doesn’t need to be replaced on the project. In a matrix type organization, resources can be scarce so you need to determine quickly if you need a replacement resource and get the resource request in fast to the right person. Everyone is working off your initial assessment that no replacement resource was needed so no one is doing the looking for you.