Are you prepared for rogue behavior? How to avoid your own ‘Bridgegate’

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

Have you ever had to deal with a rogue team member—someone who took advantage of power within the team to make an ill-advised, unilateral decision? Just one such person can create a disaster. Depending on the decision, weeks of careful planning and effort could be blown away in an instant.

Luckily, there are plenty of red flags for team members who are likely to do something reckless. In a recent article on, contributor Barry Schuler lists steps you can take to short circuit any rash actions on the part of your team.

First, keep an eye on your most ambitious team members. This is not paranoid behavior—obviously, as a project manager you want ambitious people on your team. But, as Schuler points out, there can be "movers and shakers with long-term aspirations that supersede" your company's goals. These competing drives can lead to "very bad decision making" that can come back to bite them—and you, as the boss.

It is also important to monitor everyone's stress levels. Personal financial problems can make a person "more likely to steal or embezzle." In addition, "as the leader…you are the single biggest source of stress in the company," Schuler writes. If you are a driven overachiever, you could  "inadvertently create an environment that drives people to bad judgment in an attempt to please you." While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may not have known about his lieutenants' activities around "Bridgegate," it is possible that he "created a culture where his team thought he would approve of their actions."

Get to know the people you work with. At the same time, "rely on your team to be your eyes and ears." Team members are most likely to be the first to notice any suspect behavior. Encourage them to share this information with you directly, or through a formal, anonymous reporting system.

New Leaf's 2-day program, "Leading the Project Team," contains a special section on dealing with difficult team members. In addition, our white papers and online QPM games let you learn while you earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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