Dear PM Advisor. Nov 10, 2014

Dear PM Advisor, A low level team member on my team is the brother-in-law of the company's Managing Director. How do I treat him on my project?

Stepping on Eggshells in Bangalore

Dear Eggshells,

It really depends on how much the Managing Director likes his brother-in-law and what his plans are for him. Does he plan on grooming this team member as his replacement or is he just finding a job for him as a favor to his sister? Does the Managing Director want him to succeed or fail? Does he view it as your job to make him look good or are you required to test him to see if he has what it takes to make it in this company?

The bottom line is that the Managing Director is a major stakeholder of your project. You need to talk to him. First about the project like you would with any other stakeholder. Ask the typical stakeholder questions:

  • What does he want to have the project accomplish?
  • What are some potential pitfalls?
  • How often does he want communications about the project, what type and in what media?
  • Who else cares about this project?

But add another question just for him:

  • What is your goal for your brother-in-law over the course of this project?

You may not get a truthful answer so you also need to ask other high-level stakeholders the same question:

  • What is the Managing Director's goal for his brother-in-law?

Then set out to manage his expectation just as you are trying to manage all the other stakeholder's expectations.

Good luck,

PM Advisor.

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