Human Factors And The Project Team

With the reminder of the need for the PM to possess a high level of political sensitivity, we can discuss some other factors in managing project teams, all the while remembering that the principles and practices of good, general management also apply to the management of projects. We discuss them from the viewpoint of the PM as an individual who must cope with the personal as well as the technical victories and frustrations of life on a project.

Meeting schedule and cost goals without compromising performance appears to be a technical problem for the PM. Actually, it is only partly technical because it is also a human problem—more accurately, a technical problem with a human dimension. Project professionals tend to be perfectionists. It is difficult enough to meet project goals under normal conditions, but when, out of pride of workmanship, the professionals want to keep improving (and thus changing) the product, the task becomes almost impossible. Changes cause delays. Throughout the project, the manager must continue to stress the importance of meeting due dates. It also helps if the PM establishes, at the beginning of the project, a technical change procedure to ensure control over the incidence and frequency of change. (It would not, however, be wise for the PM to assume that everyone will automatically follow such a procedure.) More on this subject in Chapters 5 and 11.

Another problem is motivating project team members to accomplish the work of the project. As we noted in Chapter 3 and in the discussion of matrix organizations in this chapter, the PM often has little control over the economic rewards and promotions of the people working on the project. This is certainly true when the matrix is weak. This does not, however, mean that the PM cannot motivate members of the project team. Frederick Herzberg, who studied what motivates technical employees such as engineers, scientists, and professionals on a project team, contends that recognition, achievement, the work itself, responsibility, advancement, and the chance to learn new skills are motivators |27|. It is the PM's responsibility to make sure that project work is structured in such a way as to emphasize these motivational factors. We have also found that the judicious use of "thank you" notes from the PM to those functional managers who have supplied the project with capable and committed individuals and/or effective and efficient capacity is a potent motivator—copies to the relevant individuals, of course.

The use of participative management is also a way of motivating people. This is not a new theory. It originated in the work of Argyris, Likert, McGregor and others in the 1950s and 1960s. The concept suggests that the individual worker (or team) should play a significant role in deciding what means should be employed in meeting desired ends, and in finding better ways of accomplishing things. Management By Objectives (MBO) was an early mechanism designed to develop participative management. Suggested by Drucker in 1954 |18|, and advocated by others (e.g., [44)), MBO allowed the worker to take responsibility for the design and performance of a task under controlled conditions. More recently, such programs as Employee Involvement (El) and Total Quality Management (TQM) have been developed that do not suffer from some of the problems associated with MBO. (There is a large body of literature on EI and TQM. Readers who are not familiar with these techniques might see [14 and 20 (especially Chapters 5, 10, and 11)| for excellent descriptions of both El and TQM together with the associated behavioral theory and a discussion of implementing EI and TQM teams.)

The adoption of such methods empowers the team (as well as its individual members) to take responsibility and to be accountable for delivering project objectives. Some advantages of empowerment for project teams are:

1. It harnesses the ability of the team members to manipulate tasks so that project objectives are met. The team is encouraged to find better ways to do things.

2. Professionals do not like being micromanaged. Participative management does not tell them how to work but, given a goal, allows them to design their own methods.

3. The team members know they are responsible and accountable for achieving the project deliverables.

4. There is a good chance that synergistic solutions will result from team interaction.

5. Team members get timely feedback on their performance.

6. The PM is provided a tool for evaluating the team's performance.

All of the above items serve to increase motivation among members of the project team.

In Chapter 5, we cover the process of planning projects in detail, and we emphasize the use of an action plan, a concept borrowed directly from MBO. It is a detailed planning and scheduling technique directed toward achievement of the objectives of the project. The PM works with members of the project team and a comprehensive set of written plans is generated by this process. The resulting document is not only a plan, but also a control mechanism. Because the system of developing the plan is participative and makes team members accountable for their specific parts of the overall plan, it motivates them, and also clearly denotes the degree to which team members are mutually dependent. The importance of this latter outcome of the planning process is not well-recognized in the literature on team building.

There are a number of excellent works on team building, for example, see f 19. 21. 32, 48, 51, and 57). They cover a wide range of issues that affect team building

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  • craig
    What are human facotrs in managing project teams?
    5 months ago

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