Breath of Clarity

Environmental Project Management Discussion #7

There are a variety of difficulties project managers may encounter as they aim to exercise project control. Challenges are divided by scope, cost and time.

Comment #1:

Original Post by Arnaldo Perez Negron:

As mentioned in the book, project control is intended to maintain “ethical, goal-oriented behavior”, however, it can sometimes be coercive although that’s not the main goal (Meredith et al. 2018, 422). Within each project and their requirements in scope, cost, and time, there are an array of problems that can require project control ranging from quality issues to low initial bids and incorrect task sequencing (Meredith et al. 2018, 422). From attempting project control in such situations, the human side can play a big role in the difficulties that can arise. For example, the project manager would need to deal with personal emotions and those of the team like frustration and anger. This can then be associated with the three ways that people respond to “goal-directedness of control systems” (Meredith et al. 2018, 423). First it could be by positive and active participation along with goal seeking, secondly it could be motivated by an avoidance of loss via passive participation, and lastly it could be in an active way but one that is resistive and negative (Meredith et al. 2018, 423). Once again, dealing with the human aspect of projects is vital and knowing how to project control in a way that pushes towards the project’s goals without seeming like an authoritarian is a skill that PMs should have in case things don’t turn out was expected.


Meredith, Jack R., Scott M. Shafter, and Samuel J. Mantel. Project Management: A Strategic Managerial Approach. 10th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018.

My Comment:

Hi Arnaldo,

At the end of your initial post, you mentioned it is important for a PM to push towards the project’s goals without seeming like an authoritarian. I found it interesting the textbook highlighted project control as one of the least understood tasks of project management and proceeded to declare many PMs associate the notion of disciplinarian with control. On page 422, it went on to make some suggestions on how a PM can effectively communicate with its team members in a way that is not authoritarian.

Suggestions include:

Avoid heavily criticizing people for actions they know (possibly after the fact) are wrong. Instead, a simple reminder from the PM is sufficient.

Avoid criticizing people in public under any circumstances

Recall the people working for you are reasonably bring and almost never act out of malice

Remember that placing blame does not fix the problem. Fix first, blame later- if you still have the energy and simply must.

These suggestions all center around the mentality of honoring subordinates even when situations do not go as planned. It is important to not define team members by the mistakes they make. Instead, it is crucial a PM unconditionally respects its team members.


Meredith, Jack R., Scott M. Shafter, and Samuel J. Mantel. Project Management: A Strategic Managerial Approach. 10th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018.

Comment #2:

Original Post by Brianna Curran:

When attempting project control, a PM can encounter various issues as the basis of this task is in assuring that reality meets expectations. As a general rule in life, this is often a tough thing to do. When considering this control, PMs must consider that there are mechanistic and human (but mainly human) caused problems. Humans can often bring emotions, judgement and personalities into the circumstances of a project – as well as set a chain of events into motion. Problems can arise when the response of attempting project control involves an active yet negative participation that involves a resistance from those involved. This can mean that tasks do not get approached with the same work ethic or motivation, which can cause a delay in project which then alters the cost of a project among other variables. Problems also arise when there are issues with teams that have negative reactions to the sense of being controlled, the nature of the goal or a control mechanism. Problems are also likely to come to the surface if there is an issue with the design of your project control information. These problems can be a lack of implementing the correct processes with the right timing or putting incorrect measurements to use.


Meredith, Jack R., Scott M. Shafter, and Samuel J. Mantel. Project Management: A Strategic Managerial Approach. 10th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018.

My Comment:

Hi Brianna,

Great point in saying the PM is controlling the activities for the purpose of reality meeting expectations. It emphasizes the importance of setting proper expectations with the sponsor, functional managers, and other staff members. Insofar as the PM sets proper expectations from the beginning, it can support project control going smoothly as the PM is less likely to run into issues later on in the process. For example, telling a sponsor construction of a gazebo is going to take three weeks is smart if it typically takes 1-3 weeks. That way, the PM will not need to deal with any issue of having initial time estimates being too optimistic.

Also, a manager once told me he decided to have a mindset of seeing challenges as opportunities. Seeing challenges as opportunities agrees with the acknowledgement you made in the initial post about how negative participation yields bad results. In project control, just because a circumstance is unexpected and requires some sort of response from the PM does not necessarily equate it to a problem. Instead, it is a challenge. Often times, sponsors are interested in how a PM responds when something goes wrong, especially in circumstances where it is clear the issue is due to some other human’s error or a mechanical issue. Ironically, it can lead to the sponsor referring the PM to future projects because they went through some complication together and bonded over it. It can mean a lot to a client when the PM stays level headed and looks even more professional at the end of the day. I admire PMs who can turn challenges into opportunities.