You are part of a team which has been assigned a project with a tight deadline that is not extendable. One of the team members fails to deliver on the part of the project assigned to him at the fag-end of the project despite his assurance. All the other members of the team have performed flawlessly and completed their parts. There is no way that the project can now be completed even if all the team members provide their utmost help. Appropriate punishment has now to be meted out by the management. The team member is willing to own up his shortcoming and shoulder the responsibility. Should all the team members share the responsibility for failure equally or should they allow that particular team member to get all the blame and punishment?
As Project Manager we encounter such situations quite often. I personally feel that only the guilty should be punished and not the entire team. While working as a team it is important that not only the team members know each other but also the team leader is in unison with his team. The very fact that the individual has not been able to perform at the last moment proves that the team lacked coherence and there was lack of communication or understanding between the team members and the team leader. It is important to understand why the individual has failed and others have been able to perform under the same leader and while working on the same project. Probably the individual was not happy with the part of the project that he was assigned or he had some other personal problem which he failed to communicate at the right moment.
I am convinced the team member has to share the blame for the last-minute glitch but the role of the team leader is equally important in this scenario. The accountability of completing the project in time lies with the team leader and he is responsible for the poor performance of this particular team member. It was the team leader’s duty to monitor the work progress of all his members and take corrective measures against those who could be likely defaulters. It will be unfair to single out the team member alone as the team leader is equally culpable.
The very essence of teamwork lies in rising up to the occasion as a single entity therefore, the incomplete job should be distributed among all but when it comes to sharing the responsibility for failures only the guilty should be punished and not the entire team. Making everybody share the blame would undermine the hard work and could be detrimental to the diligence displayed by the rest of the team.
How would you react in a similar situation?