Fire Vs Personality Clash – A project management scenario !

You are sleeping at home and suddenly wake up due to smoke;

2.      You see fire coming out of one of the rooms;

3.      You go to the room and see what is causing the fire;

4.      You do your best and put out the fire;


5.      You try to put out the fire but it gets out of control;

6.      You dial 000 and ask for the fire brigade – you need help to save your house!

Now consider you are a project manager on a critical strategic project. During your weekly team meetings, you have been witnessing strong arguments between two key team members. You can feel something is not right. The project management scenario is too important, you cannot afford any delays and the arguing SMEs are key to the project.

a.      You reach out to both SMEs individually and try to understand the issue;

b.     Both have their point of view;

c.      You get both in a room and try to negotiate a consensus on the issue;

d.     You have a positive outcome – SMEs agree to cooperate but you know personality clash is still there!


e.     You failed – the egos are too strong to give in – there’s a personality clash!

f.       This is now going to impact project delivery – you can’t afford it;

g.      You ask sponsor’s help to resolve the issue – You need help to save your project!

Compare ‘Fire’ with ‘Personality Clash’? Really?

Both bring destruction and carnage and if preventive measures are not taken proactively it can have a long-term impact. In case of fire most likely you will be able to rebuild or repair the house and if you were smart enough you would have taken out home and content insurance – cost impact would be minimal but you may never forget the destruction caused by the fire.

Be safe this summer and take preventive measure to ensure both your home and loved ones are safe

Similarly, when it comes to humans, same logic applies. You or Sponsor’s intervention may get you a positive outcome and hopefully you would be able to deliver the project but the long-term effects of personality clash will always remain. Given a choice you would probably not engage the two SMEs ever again. As a PM you will always be hesitant to work with those SMEs again. It would be too risky for any project.

Be aware of personality clash among your team members. Human ego and pride is one of most detrimental factor in achieving success. Strong egos do not bring positive results, rather derail the project. As soon as you feel any symptoms of personality clash, address it through early intervention and coaching.

Project Manager is responsible for harmonious team environment; promptly address team building issues in the team through regular coaching and mentoring

Faheem Jafar, PMP, PMI-RMP is the founder and principal consultant at PROPRAC Consultants. He works with organisations by helping them develop and enhance Project Management scenario capability and specialises in PMO Consulting, Project Management Training and Risk Management. Faheem has more than two decades of experience in leadership, project management and PMO at an international level. His industry experience includes Construction, Financial, FMCG, Gaming & Entertainment, Telecommunication, Natural Resources & Mining and Public sector.

You may contact Faheem Jafar on

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