How to Deal with a Challenging Personality on Your Project

As a Project Management Professional (PMP), it is extremely rare to come across a perfect set of people who work cohesively within your team all the time. There will always be someone who doesn’t quite fit, their performance is problematic, or their personality clashes with one or more within the group. It is important to effectively handle these challenges to minimize any negative impact on your team and the project. In general, PMP training courses do not cover the human aspects of how to deal with difficult people, so below are a few tips to consider:

Maintain Professionalism

ID-100100140You might be extremely irritated with this difficult individual, however, it is important to not act inappropriately or awkwardly toward them, or express your annoyance through your words or actions. When dealing with a difficult person, it is best to maintain all conversations in a calm and professional manner. Who knows, your problematic team member may take cues from your exemplary behavior and performance.

Have a Private Talk

If this individual continues to remain uncooperative and problematic, you should talk to them and address the issues behind closed doors. Be honest, but not abrasive. It is vital to clearly explain the gravity of the project, making them realize how important they are within the process, and that everyone’s contribution in a team-driven project is important and necessary for the team’s success. Through frank  discussion, you might discover some personal problem that the person is having such as divorce, or a sick child or parents. If they discover that you care about them as a person, you might be able to find a way to help them reduce this stress and thus improve their performance.

Focus on The Positive

There are some project managers who think that they can change a person. This is rarely the case. Most people usually cannot transform their personalities for the better that easily. Instead of concentrating on the negative, it is important focus on the positive strengths or benefits this individual brings to the group. Assign this person to tasks that suit their strengths. It is better to assign people to activities where they can perform well, instead of giving them assignments that you know they cannot do in the given timeframe. Assessing the skillset of everyone within the group and trying to best match the tasks accordingly will help maximize overall efficiencies and improve morale.

Seek Advice

As a PMP Certification holder you have to be open to new ideas and suggestions. One of the best ways to solve problems is to ask for help from a trusted friend, in complete confidence. It could be a co-worker or simply your best friend. Relate the situation to him or her. It is best to talk to someone who is not involved in the project so that you would be getting an unbiased opinion on your situation, and it remains confidential.

To ensure the success of a project, it is crucial to proactively address any personality problems and take the proper corrective action. If left to linger, these problems can easily grow and seep into your project affecting your team’s morale, and thus the quality output of your project.

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David Sanders enjoys sharing his project management insights through blogging. His articles mainly appear on management blogs. Visit the PMP Training link to learn more.

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  1. Kristen says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about project management.


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