One thing that you will learn in project management is that a project is considered to have been a successful one when it is has been completed fully within the boundaries that were set out within the original project plan. That means that is within scope, timescale and has also come in on budget. Unfortunately, bad project management can be an issue to deal with and more so if your project is a larger one with a significant budget.
Only a relatively small number of projects are truly successful. Projects might be completed but all too often they will hit snags along the way that will result in a lengthier timescale or the costs going a little over budget. In order to overcome this type of issues and find the best solutions to work with them when they do occur companies need to be prepared to employ better ideas, frameworks, and alternative methodologies when it comes to managing any projects that they are working on.
What drives project success?
There are a huge number of factors that come into play when it comes to driving a project towards a successful outcome. It is important for any project to have a good plan that has been thoroughly thought out, and has had any potential risks identified. This means having a strong project manager who has the skills and understanding to drive the project. It is also important to consider the necessary skill set for a project. Just because a team have worked well together on a previous project, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will have all of the skills that are needed on a new project; you may need to make some changes.
Communication, the single most important factor in any type of team, no matter how large or how small is also a hugely important factor when it comes to the success of a project. A team who communicate well will have a greater chance of spotting issues as they arise and perhaps more importantly working on the necessary solutions together. Part of great communication within a team also means having the right project management software. Whether this is something that just allows you to track the fundamentals of the project or document all of the communication that occurs, it can be a vital tool to help with your project success. This is perhaps a factor that in light of recent times is now more important than it has ever been. Coronavirus has taught us that individuals working as part of a team can in fact work successfully from different locations and remain in contact when the right tools are in place to facilitate that.
Whilst all of these factors are vital to the success of a project, there is one key factors that is also important in driving successful project management and this is something that people don’t always think of. This other factor to consider is the behaviour of people, their behaviour, feelings, emotions and even culture – when a project manager understands these elements in respect of their team then amazing things can happen.
Why are human feelings important in projects?
There have been a significant number of studies carried out on the subject of how being happy in the workplace can affect employees. The overwhelming thing that all of these studies found was that employees who are happy in the workplace are more productive, in fact up to 13% more productive.
When people are not satisfied with their role in a team, it can make them feel undervalued and lead to them actively looking for alternative employment. The result of this is that they will put less of their effort into the job that they currently have and this in turn may have an impact on the success of the current project. Unfortunately, this can have deeper implications that just affect the work of one person. When one member of a team becomes less engaged with their work it can create a number of issues. The first of these is that they might not pay as much attention to their work which can result in errors, in some cases this might mean potential problems with a project that could result in a lengthier timescale or the project going over budget.
The methodologies used in more traditional types of project management rely on sound procedural and technical principles, things like scheduling, scoping, budgeting, control and quality assurance and communications, and these are all very well-established frameworks. Yet despite the necessity of all of these there is something missing in project management if we want to ensure that everything goes well.
The really important thing, the one without which no project can be complete is of course people, every process within a project requires people, the ideas that start a project off require people and of course the end result is achieved by the hard work of the project team – PEOPLE. So if these people are not happy in their jobs, then this can have an effect on your project and its outcomes.
People centric project management (PCPM)
What we are really talking about here is, of course, people centric project management. This is the concept that project management must be arranged around the concepts of dynamics, experience, and human psychology rather than just processes. It is important for a project manager to understand how members of a team actually function within the project team. This will help them to understand how each individual fits into the project team and help them get the best out of everyone. Doing so will allow them to divide the work that is required for the project up in the best possible way and can help to make people happier with the work that they have been given. And of course, this means happier team members and more commitment to the project itself.
The behaviour of team members can in fact be one of the most worrisome things that a project manager can encounter during the course of their work. In an ideal world, a project manager would find it helpful to be able to see when team members are unhappy in their role, and if they can’t see this be told that there are problems. Unfortunately, human nature is such that all too often people mask or bury their feelings of discontent, allowing them to grow until resentment sets in and this can affect the quality of people’s work. They may pay less attention to the important details, their minds may be elsewhere, and they often begin to look for alternative employment. This means that some are putting all their efforts into finding a new job and not into the one that they currently have.
When team members mask their feelings, be they unhappiness, dissatisfaction or discontent it can have lasting implications for the project as a whole.
So what can project managers do?
People centric project management is not the same as more traditional project management. It seeks not to reject the basic principles that are assigned to project management but rather to emphasise those traditional processes and at the same time tailor them according to any identified needs. This is done so that the benefits that can be gained from the good actions of individuals can become part of the implementation of the project.
Project managers needs to be attuned to the needs of the members of their team in order to look out for those tell tale signs that an individual might be struggling. They need to remember that they should not just be looking out for signs of unhappiness but also ensure that no member of their team is unfairly overburdened with more than their fair share of the workload. Whilst a well laid out project plan may divide the work evenly amongst the members of a team, there are often occasions where one member of a team may be called on to help another, perhaps because they have a greater knowledge of the work entailed. For the greater good of the project, and getting things done on time then they may accept this extra work on top of their own. However, this can sometimes lead to one team member allowing the other to do all of the work, or another feeling that they are not up to the job, again, leading to disappointment and sometimes resentment. Stress can also have a huge impact on the success of a project. Burnout as a result of too much work being piled onto a single individual is unfortunately all too real an issue and one that needs to be monitored carefully.
When time is taken to really consider the feelings of all of the individuals involved in a project properly then it can have a huge impact of the outcome of a project. Team members will be happier, and happy individuals are more motivated to work better on their projects in order to achieve a successful outcome.
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