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Reassigning projects / duties

By angry_white_male ·
How do you go about reassigning work (be it projects, duties, etc...).

Do you talk with the employee losing the work first?

Do you bring it up at a staff meeting and surprise everony?

Do you tell the person getting someone else's duties first and surprise the person losing it?

My boss tends to reassign work on the fly - which puts both affected employees in an uncomfortable situation.

I've tried talking with him about it - but he only got angry with me for questioning his decisions.

It's unsettling when you've worked on a project for months - only to have it taken away arbitrarily and given to someone who's not up to speed or simply not the right person because of his background or from an organziational perspective.

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Private discussion, no doubt

by gjucan In reply to Reassigning projects / du ...

Reassigning work is as close to firing someone as a project manager can get. It?s probably the most delicate aspect of human resources management, other than being fired yourself.

I think you already responded to your question yourself: the notification of task reassignment should be done in a private conversation. To mitigate the inherent frustration that the resource will feel the PM must provide a clear and objective explanation (work overload, upcoming vacation, assignment to another task requiring specific skills etc.).

The only acceptable public reassignment is in a brainstorming meeting to recover a project that encountered significant issues. Redistribution of responsibilities and/or work assignments could be a solution suggested by the team to overcome the problems. As it is a common decision (maybe without consensus, but usually majority rules) tables and discussed during the brainstorming session, there is no way of insuring a prior private conversation.

However, I think you embedded another question in your posting as well: what can a team member do when the manager arbitrarily reassigns tasks with no visible reason? The short answer is to talk to your manager (privately, of course). Try to avoid showing your frustration and displaying an aggressive attitude ? at least not yet.

The best way to put it is that you?d like to understand the reasons of your reassignment, if it was any area where you did not performed as expected so you can improve and do better. It is a legitimate, constructive question that any PM should respond. Try to look at the reasons provided with objective eyes. For example, if the task is dangerously falling behind the schedule the PM needs to take action. You know that you had personal problems these last few weeks but now you can work overtime and recover ? but does your PM know that?

Whatever the reasons provided are, mention that you would have really appreciated to have this type of discussion before task reassignment. If you would have known PM?s concerns you would have taken steps to address them. This turns the table and puts the PM in a tight spot, regardless if his reasons were valid or not. Please keep in mind that, even if communication is supposed to be the most important component of a PM?s activity, sometimes he/she might get swamped under ?burning fires? and neglect communication. Or the PM might come from a background where staff did not mind reassignments (e.g. contractors) and does not even realized that it bothers you.

Now, if you had this discussion once or twice but the practice continues, there might be more serious problems beneath the surface. In this case you should follow workplace conflict management techniques that are too extensive for a discussion posting.

Hope this helps.

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You hit the nail right on the head

by angry_white_male In reply to Private discussion, no do ...

Not that I'm looking for validation, but you hit the nail right on the head.

Last time a project got arbitrarily reassigned in front of the group - afterwards in an e-mail I told my boss that we needed to talk. His response was "No we don?t. That?s how it will be."

I don't like to go over his head but since I've hit a brick wall, I have a meeting scheduled with the company CEO tomorrow to discuss this (and other problems I've been experiencing with my boss). It's really gotten to the point where I don't want to work for this guy anymore.

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Your in an uncomfortable situation

by leoforward In reply to You hit the nail right on ...

When you talk with your CEO, go prepared with as much documented information as you can. Meeting minutes, email, etc. I worked as a project manager at a fortune 500 company for 5 1/2 years until a few months ago. I had three managers my final year who often gave conflicting orders, castigated me individually about this or that poor result from these often abrupt changes in direction and made life miserable. I tried talking to each one privately without accomplishing much. My direct manager would agree with me on decisions privately then completely change his tune when his manager or his manager's manager, neither of whom knew much about the account or the requirements since they never seemed to read my weekly reports said something in opposition or sailed off on a tangent. Even though the upgrade project was successful (on time, within budget, and with almost no post-live problems), I was still fired for not performing up to standards because I sometimes did what was right for the project rather than what they ordered. I was relieved to be out of there.

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by Pr0x1 In reply to Reassigning projects / du ...

I've read all the posts in here, and agree with most of it. There is one thing you are missing though... this is your job. No one said it would be easy, and you're lucky to be able to solicit help from others (like TechRepublic). Most of us learned the hard way, you have a hard thing to do, but this is what you get paid for. Suck it up, you're more prepared than most of us who already have had this experience, so keep the chin up, stay confident (not cocky), and earn your experience.

Good Luck, from the sounds of it, you won't need it.

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