Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Project management needs people management skills

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I am still very surprised about the huge amount of focus that is put on general project management skills, and processes, and tools, and the limited attention that people management skills get.

What happens when the PM has no people management skills? quite a lot actually:
- attracting people to the project becomes very hard, as the line managers say no to letting their people handle other stuff
- keeping the people on the project remains as well as challenge
- conflicts inside the team grow unseen until they become uncontrollable
- project meetings become wars
- deadlines slip
- people blame each other

A climate of distrust is thus created, and instead of a productive environment for already difficult customers, the PM will also have to firefight each and every conflict.

As I was mentioning in a prior post, while the PMP certification will not bring as a guarantee that the PM knows how to manage people, it does force every candidate to read through the Human Resource Management Chapter, at pay closer attention to planning, acquiring, developing and managing the project team.

Recognizing the growing importance of people management, the PMBoKoutlines all these processes in Chapter 9, and goes in quite a lot of detail about how to manage the project team, adding more information in the 2008 edition compared to the previous ones.

I would outline here the addition of the Forming/Storming/Norming/Performing/Adjourning stages, which was not described in the past versions, as well as the bigger space reserved for Conflict Management.

And one major update, that I have just noticed: Interpersonal skills made it as a specific T&T for Manage Project Team.

As with a body of knowledge, the information that you find here is only a starting point for going more in-depth when it comes to people management. This is one of the reasons why I've re-started this blog, actually - knowing how to handle the various human typologies is not an easy task, and researching into the ways of communication and collaboration with each of them is essential.

We should of course avoid putting people into boxes - I've been through quite a lot of trainings, and we were asked to do some tests, based on which we've got an assessment saying that you are like that, and in this situation you would react in this way, and this is how others should work/communicate with you. Interesting enough, as time goes by, the results tend to change, the preferences update, and what worked yesterday does no longer work today - so one has to adapt again and again.

Coming back to my initial thought - it is good to know all processes for correctly managing a project, but there is still something more needed: a constructive approach to managing people, flexibility (or should I call it "openess") in communication and in style - without losing focus of your values, and of the goals of the project team: to take the project through a successful journey.

So manage the project work properly, and master the people skills!

1 comment:

olivia jennifer said...

I would say that a PMP is highly respected within both IT & non-IT communities where strong project management skills are required. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the leading training providers like http://www.pmstudy.com . You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.