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Project Management Questions (Case Study)

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Solution Summary

"I sympathize with your problems, Frank," stated Joe McGee, program manager at Dynel International Inc. "You know as well as I do that I'm supposed to resolve conflicts and coordinate efforts among all projects. Staffing problems are your responsibility."

Frank: "Royce Williams has a resume that would choke a horse. I don't understand why he performs with a lazy, I-don't-care attitude. He has fifteen years of experience in a project organizational structure, with ten of those years being in project offices. He knows the work that has to be done."

McGee: "I don't think that it has anything to do with you personally. This happens to some of our best workers sooner or later. You can't expect guys to give 120 percent all of the time. Royce is at the top of his pay grade, and being an exempt employee, he doesn't get paid for overtime. He'll snap out it sooner or later."

Frank: "I have deadlines to meet on the Carlson Project. Fortunately, the Carlson Project is big enough that I can maintain a full-time project office staff of eight employees, not counting myself.
"I like to have all project office employees assigned full-time and qualified in two or three project office areas. It's a good thing that I have someone else checked out in Royce's area. But I just can't keep asking this other guy to do his own work and that of Royce's. This poor guy has been working sixty to seventy hours a week and Royce has been doing only forty. That seems unfair to me."

McGee: "Look, Frank, I have the authority to fire him, but I'm not going to. It doesn't look good if we fire somebody because they won't work free overtime. Last Year we had a case similar to this, where an employee refused to work on Monday and Wednesday evenings because it interfered with his MBA classes. Everyone knew he was going to resign the instant he finished his degree, and yet there was nothing that I could do."

Frank: "There must be other alternatives for Royce Williams. I've talked to him as well as to other project office members. Royce's attitude doesn't appear to be demoralizing other members, but it easily could in a short period of time."

McGee: "We can reassign him to another project, as soon as one comes along. I'm not going to put him on my overhead budget. Your project can support him for the time being. You know, Frank, the grapevine will know the reason for his transfer. This might affect your ability to get qualified people to volunteer to work with you on future projects. Give Royce a little time and see if you can work it out with him. What about this guy, Harlan Green, from one of the functional groups?"
Frank: "Two months ago, we hired Gus Johnson, a man with ten years of experience. For the first two weeks that he was assigned to my project, he worked like hell and got the work done ahead of schedule. His work was flawless. That was the main reason why I wanted him. I know him personally, and he's one great worker."
"During weeks three and four, his work slowed down considerably. I chatted with him and he said that Harlan Green refused to work with him if he kept up that pace."

McGee: "Did you ask him why?"

Frank: "Yes. First of all, you should know that for safety reasons, all men in that department must work in two- or three-men crews. Therefore, Gus was not allowed to work alone. Harlan did not want to change the standards of performance for fear the some of the other employees would be laid off.
"By the end of the first week, nobody in the department would talk to Gus. As a matter of fact, they wouldn't even sit with him in the cafeteria. So, Gus had to either conform to the group or remain an outcast. I feel partially responsible for what has happened, since I'm the one who brought him here."
"I know that has happened before, in the same department. I haven't had a chance to talk to the department manager as yet. I have an appointment to see him next week."

McGee: "There are solutions to the problem, simple ones at that. But, again, it's not my responsibility. You can work it out with department manager."
"Yeah," thought Frank. "But what if we can't agree?"


1. What are the major problems facing the project manager?
2. Was the overloading problem unfair?
3. How should the project manager handle Royce Williams?
4. How should the project manager handle Gus Johnson?
5. How should a project manager effectively work with an employee who has an "I don't care" attitude? Suggest four alternatives.