Directing

Directing is the implementing and carrying out (through others) of those approved plans that are necessary to achieve or exceed objectives. Directing involves such steps as:

• Staffing: seeing that a qualified person is selected for each position.

• Training: teaching individuals and groups how to fulfill their duties and responsibilities.

1. Robert D. Doering, "An Approach Toward Improving the Creative Output of Scientific Task Teams," IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management. February 1973, pp. 29-31. © 1973 IEEE.

• Supervising: giving others day-to-day instruction, guidance, and discipline as required so that they can fulfill their duties and responsibilities.

• Delegating: assigning work, responsibility, and authority so others can make maximum utilization of their abilities.

• Motivating: encouraging others to perform by fulfilling or appealing to their needs.

• Counseling: holding private discussions with another about how he might do better work, solve a personal problem, or realize his ambitions.

• Coordinating: seeing that activities are carried out in relation to their importance and with a minimum of conflict.

Directing subordinates is not an easy task because of both the short time duration of the project and the fact that employees might still be assigned to a functional manager while temporarily assigned to your effort. The luxury of getting to "know" one's subordinates may not be possible in a project environment.

Project managers must be decisive and move forward rapidly whenever directives are necessary. It is better to decide an issue and be 10 percent wrong than it is to wait for the last 10 percent of a problem's input and cause a schedule delay and improper use of resources. Directives are most effective when the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) rule is applied. Directives should be written with one simple and clear objective so that subordinates can work effectively and get things done right the first time. Orders must be issued in a manner that expects immediate compliance. Whether people will obey an order depends mainly on the amount of respect they have for you. Therefore, never issue an order that you cannot enforce. Oral orders and directives should be disguised as suggestions or requests. The requestor should ask the receiver to repeat the oral orders so that there is no misunderstanding.

Project managers must understand human behavior in order to motivate people toward successful accomplishment of project objectives. Douglas McGregor advocated that most workers can be categorized according to two theories.2 The first, often referred to as Theory X, assumes that the average worker is inherently lazy and requires supervision. Theory X further assumes that:

• The average worker dislikes work and avoids work whenever possible.

• To induce adequate effort, the supervisor must threaten punishment and exercise careful supervision.

• The average worker avoids increased responsibility and seeks to be directed.

The manager who accepts Theory X normally exercises authoritarian-type control over workers and allows little participation during decision-making. Theory X employees generally favor lack of responsibility, especially in decision-making.

According to Theory Y, employees are willing to get the job done without constant supervision. Theory Y further assumes that:

• The average worker wants to be active and finds the physical and mental effort on the job satisfying.

2. Douglas McGregor, The Human Side of Enterprise (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960), pp. 33-34.

• Greatest results come from willing participation, which will tend to produce self-direction toward goals without coercion and control.

• The average worker seeks opportunity for personal improvement and self-respect.

The manager who accepts Theory Y normally advocates participation and a management-employee relationship. However, in working with professionals, especially engineers, special care must be exercised because these individuals often pride themselves on their ability to find a better way to achieve the end result regardless of cost. If this happens, project managers must become authoritarian leaders and treat Theory Y employees as though they are Theory X.

Many psychologists have established the existence of a prioritized hierarchy of needs that motivate individuals toward satisfactory performance. Maslow was the first to identify these needs.3 The first level is that of the basic or physiological needs, namely, food, water, clothing, shelter, sleep, and sexual satisfaction. Simply speaking, human primal desire to satisfy these basic needs motivates him to do a good job.

After an employee has fulfilled his physiological needs, he turns to the next lower need, safety. Safety needs include economic security and protection from harm, disease, and violence. Safety can also include security. It is important that project managers realize this because these managers may find that as a project nears termination, functional employees are more interested in finding a new role for themselves than in giving their best to the current situation.

The next level contains the social needs, including love, belonging, togetherness, approval, and group membership. At this level, the informal organization plays a dominant role. Many people refuse promotions to project management (as project managers, project office personnel, or functional representatives) because they fear that they will lose their "membership" in the informal organization. This problem can occur even on short-duration projects. In a project environment, project managers generally do not belong to any informal organization and, therefore, tend to look outside the organization to fulfill this need. Project managers consider authority and funding to be very important in gaining project support. Functional personnel, however, prefer friendship and work assignments. In other words, the project manager can use the project itself as a means of helping fulfill the third level for the line employees (i.e., team spirit).

The two lowest needs are esteem and self-actualization. The esteem need includes self-esteem (self-respect), reputation, the esteem of others, recognition, and self-confidence. Highly technical professionals are often not happy unless esteem needs are fulfilled. For example, many engineers strive to publish and invent as a means of satisfying these needs. These individuals often refuse promotions to project management because they believe that they cannot satisfy esteem needs in this position. Being called a project manager does not carry as much importance as being considered an expert in one's field by one's peers. The lowest need is self-actualization and includes doing what one can do best, desiring to utilize one's potential, full realization of one's potential, constant self-development, and a desire to be truly creative. Many good project managers find this level to be the most

3. Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1954).

important and consider each new project as a challenge by which they can achieve self-actualization.

Project managers must motivate temporarily assigned individuals by appealing to their desires to fulfill the lowest two levels, but not by making promises that cannot be met. Project managers must motivate by providing:

• A feeling of pride or satisfaction for one's ego

• Security of opportunity

• Security of approval

• Security of advancement, if possible

• Security of promotion, if possible

• Security of recognition

• A means for doing a better job, not a means to keep a job

Understanding professional needs is an important factor in helping people realize their true potential. Such needs include:

• Interesting and challenging work

• Professionally stimulating work environment

• Professional growth

• Overall leadership (ability to lead)

• Tangible rewards

• Technical expertise (within the team)

• Management assistance in problem-solving

• Clearly defined objectives

• Proper management control

• Senior management support

• Good interpersonal relations

• Proper planning

• Clear role definition

• Open communications

• A minimum of changes

Motivating employees so that they feel secure on the job is not easy, especially since a project has a finite lifetime. Specific methods for producing security in a project environment include:

• Letting people know why they are where they are

• Making individuals feel that they belong where they are

• Placing individuals in positions for which they are properly trained

• Letting employees know how their efforts fit into the big picture

Since project managers cannot motivate by promising material gains, they must appeal to each person's pride. The guidelines for proper motivation are:

• Adopt a positive attitude

• Do not criticize management

• Do not make promises that cannot be kept

• Circulate customer reports

• Give each person the attention he requires

There are several ways of motivating project personnel. Some effective ways include:

• Giving assignments that provide challenges

• Clearly defining performance expectations

• Giving proper criticism as well as credit

• Giving honest appraisals

• Providing a good working atmosphere

• Developing a team attitude

• Providing a proper direction (even if Theory Y)

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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