When working with a team is not going as it should, the Project Manager needs to diagnose the problem as soon as possible. What causes negative emotions in the team? What effect does the Project Manager’s attitude have on the situation? And what emotions does he or she feel? Is the problem caused by conflicting characters, divergent worldviews or the inability of team members to work together?

Challenges Project Managers face when working with a team – table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Negative emotions in the team
  3. Emotions of a Project Manager
  4. Interpersonal problems
  5. Summary


A Project Manager’s collaboration with a team is a challenge not only because of the tasks and goals set by the company and stakeholders. Today, let’s take a look at the difficult emotions that accompany team dynamics, the issues they cause, as well as see ways to deal with the tensions that arise.

Very often the deepest source of troubles concerns the problems of communication in the team, while the solution-the ability to see them and have a fruitful conversation. What emotions should a Project Manager pay special attention to?

Negative emotions in the team

You should never overestimate the good atmosphere within a team. However, how to spot the first signs of change to respond to the unfavorable emotions and discouragement that can lead to a lack of commitment and unwillingness to cont


The team’s distraction may not be apparent to the Project Manager at first glance. On the contrary, in a team that does not focus enough on its tasks, there may be an atmosphere full of mutual friendliness and humor. Unfortunately, the indicators observed during project monitoring will show mercilessly that excessive interaction, bringing up personal topics and discussing the tasks of one employee by the whole team does not translate into good project work results.

Sometimes the distraction appears temporarily. If it takes place during the holiday season or around the holidays, it is unlikely to find any cause for real concern. Otherwise, if the situation persists, you should seek causes among:

  • the number and difficulty of tasks performed by the team – perhaps there are too few and easy tasks, so team members do not focus on completing them, and spend most of their time in not very productive meetings, conversations and meme exchanges; the problem can be solved by increasing the number of tasks, reducing the length of scheduled meetings or introducing no-meeting-days,
  • the presence of a joker – perhaps a new employee or two with the personality of a joker joined the team? Then, a conversation and drawing attention to the problem, or partially involving them in tasks related to another project, should suffice,
  • the presence of a high-performer or retrained person – when unrecognized by the Project Manager, they get the same amount of tasks as the rest of the team. Without sufficient challenges, such people simply begin to get bored, then consequently distract and demotivate the rest of the project team.


If team members are constantly working under pressure, problems with controlling their own emotions quickly arise. According to the 2015 Wrike Work Management Report, the most common causes of stress during working with a team are:

52% – lack of necessary information,

51% – problems with prioritizing tasks

49% – unrealistic requirements,

47% – constantly changing deadlines for tasks,

44% – unclear management and unclear responsibility for tasks.

Therefore, the report indicates that the key causes of stress are not in the type of tasks performed, but in the circulation of project information. And while it is hoped that, thanks to the spread of project management software such as Firmbee, communication in teams has improved, it is still not worth downplaying this factor.

Lack of commitment

The involvement of the team in tasks performed together is also directly related to good communication within the team. When each person knows:

  • the scope of their activities,
  • to whom to turn in case of problems, and
  • the purpose of their actions,

they are unlikely to be in danger of declining motivation and commitment to project work.

And these, in turn, are not fostered by the lack of mutual support, as well as the problems associated with remote and hybrid work.

working with a team

Emotions of a Project Manager

If, as a Project Manager, you are struggling to find the cause of problems when working with a team, perhaps you should change your area of search and start as close as you can: by taking a close look at your habits, behaviors and motivations.

Increasing responsibility and the inability to control many parameters of project execution are the most common reasons for emotional problems in the work of a Project Manager.

Working with a team can indicate job burnout. As many as 75% of employees experience it, and Project Managers are at a higher risk due to the high demands and pressures of their jobs. Burnout can translate into:

  • constant fatigue,
  • irritability,
  • aggression,
  • impatience,
  • deepening alienation and feelings of alienation.

To make matters worse, the Project Manager’s negative attitude directly translates into a team atmosphere, increasing stress levels together with worsening conflicts between project team members.

Interpersonal problems

What emotions in interpersonal relationships most threaten the smooth functioning of a project team? Anger can lead to personal conflicts and a lack of team cooperation. Anxiety causes a lack of commitment and avoidance of responsibility. Frustration can destroy motivation and willingness to work.

Their sources in the work of the project team are most often:

  1. Personal conflicts between team members – can originate from differences in work styles, personal disagreements as well as a lack of respect for boundaries.
  2. Lack of involvement of one person in the work of the team – can result from insufficient motivation, misunderstanding of goals or exclusion from participation in decision-making.
  3. The conflict between the Project Manager and the team – can stem from excessive expectations, unclear requirements, or the presence of a person in the team who aspires to a leadership role.

To solve these problems, the Project Manager should promote a culture of openness and respect, and remember to involve all team members. Both those who do not speak up when not asked and those who always try to speak up for themselves and the team.


Emotion management plays a very big role in teamwork. Distraction, stress and lack of commitment, as well as anger, anxiety and frustration, can lead to interpersonal problems and lack of commitment. To solve these problems, a Project Manager should observe not only the team but also himself, paying special attention to the symptoms of burnout. The key to nurturing emotions is good communication, promoting openness and respect, and making sure that all team members are engaged and motivated to work on the project.

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Challenges project managers face when working with a team | #32 Getting started with project management caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.

Getting started with project management:

  1. What is a project?
  2. What is project management?
  3. How to manage projects?
  4. Project management methods
  5. Types of projects
  6. 4 examples of projects
  7. Prioritization of projects
  8. Areas of project activity
  9. Definition of success in project management
  10. Why use project management software?
  11. How to choose the best project management software?
  12. Overview of project management software
  13. Project life cycle
  14. What is the project vision for?
  15. Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
  16. Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
  17. The domain of planning in project management
  18. What is a project schedule and what is it for?
  19. How to use milestones in a project?
  20. Project execution
  21. How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
  22. Importance of project closure
  23. Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
  24. 4Ps of management: project, product, program and portfolio
  25. Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
  26. Most useful project manager skills
  27. How to become a project manager?
  28. 5 books every project manager should read
  29. How to set up a project team?
  30. Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
  31. How to lead a team during hybrid work?
  32. Challenges project managers face when working with a team
  33. Types of project meetings
  34. Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
  35. How to write a compelling
  36. How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
  37. Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
  38. Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
  39. How to create a project charter?
  40. What is a stakeholder register?
  41. Gantt chart in project management planning
  42. How to create a project budget?
  43. Time management in project
  44. How to create a project risk register?
  45. Project risk management strategies
  46. Project marketing
  47. Sources and areas of change in the project
  48. Project management change models
  49. What's after Agile? Methods in project management