Effective Ways To Deal With Poor Performance From a Project Team Member

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Discover some effective methods you can use to deal with the poor performance of a  project team member .

If a member of your project team is not performing to their best, it can create an awkward situation. Not only do you need this team member to start pulling his or her weight, but also if they don’t, they risk the morale of the entire team being brought down. With that in mind, read on to discover some effective methods you can use to deal with a project member who is not performing as well as expected.

Avoid an emotional confrontation

There is only one place to begin, and this by avoiding an emotional confrontation. An argument is not going to help anyone. It won’t benefit you, and it certainly will not benefit the team member who is showing poor performance. You need to remain calm and handle the situation professionally.

Prepare for the conversation and be specific

Before you speak to the team member who is underperforming, you need to prepare for the conversation. Carefully consider what you are going to say. You need to be specific so the person can understand where they are going wrong and what improvements need to be made. You can’t simply be general and say they aren’t performing well at the moment. You need to come armed with facts. Don’t act like you are apportioning blame, though, but make it clear that you have picked up on their low performance levels. As anyone who has attended a project management training course knows, clarity is critical when communicating.

Don’t delay

Another tip for delaying with an under-performing employee is to act quickly. If you do not, you are sending out a message that this behaviour or performance is acceptable. It not only sets a bad precedent for that team member, but for the rest of the team. The longer you leave it, the more harm it does to the project and your organisation.

Be understanding

We are all humans. It could be that there is an external factor affecting performance, and that there is something going on in the person’s personal life. You need to be empathetic towards this. If this person has always performed well before, perhaps there is an underlying reason for the current issue.


Give appropriate training

The final thing you need to do is make sure you give appropriate training if needed. This should include your expectations regarding poor performance – again make these clear and concise. You should then ensure they are given the knowledge and skills that are required to help them get over this bump in the road.

Hopefully, you now feel more prepared for dealing with any team member that is not performing as well as expected. Follow the steps presented above and the conversation should go well and result in the improvement in performance you are aiming for.


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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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