Behavioral Aspects of Project Management Introduction The behavioral aspects of project management consist of many different areas that a project manager must master. The organizational culture is one area that can take time to master for many project managers. The culture of an organization can be the success or the failure of a project. Management must be share common beliefs and values and be willing to stand by them at the most critical times. The personality of the project leader is important and is critical to the project.
The project leaders leadership will dictate if the project will be successful. The team has to believe in the manager and for this to happen the manager has to follow though with what they say they will do. To build and manage a successful project team the project manager must be skilled in many areas. The project manager has to be able to select team members that will fit in with the team, manage meetings skillfully, establish a team identity and vision, establish ways of rewarding the team as well as individuals, manage conflicts within and outside the team, and be able to rejuvenate the team over long projects. Organization Cultures Influence Organizational culture research has identified ten primary characteristics that lead to successful or unsuccessful teams within an organization. These characteristics will in turn affect the selection, sponsorship, prioritization, and ultimate success of all projects in an organization (Gray, Larson, 2003).
1. Member Identity - is the employee's ability to identify with the organization. 2. Team Emphasis - the activities of the organization in which the team or individuals are emphasized. 3. Management focus - the decisions management makes that affect the employee's.
4. Unit integration - are teams within in an organization expected work independently or as a team. 5. Control - the oversight and control over an employee's behavior. These types of rules and policies of the organization to oversee employees will dictate to the employee what is acceptable and what is discouraged. 6.
Risk tolerance - this allows or sets limits on an employee and teams to have a certain amount of innovation and risk seeking. 7. Reward criteria - the organizational culture to allow or disallow promotions and salary increases based on merit rather than nonperformance factors. 8. Conflict tolerance - the limits at which employees are able to air conflicts and criticism openly.
9. Means versus end orientation - is the outcome more important than the means to get to the outcome. 10. Open-systems focus - is how the organization reacts to external forces or environmental changes.
The organizational culture is a system of shared beliefs, values, and assumptions by which people (employees) are connected. As Gray and Larson write, Culture is also one of the defining aspects of an organization that sets it apart from other organizations even in the same industry. The organization culture has several defining functions that affect each employee. The first is culture provides a sense of identity for its members. People will feel a close and strong connection with the organization if the mission of the organization is well defined and values are well stated.
Secondly, the culture helps legitimize the management system of the organization. The system must also be well defined and clear. The employees must understand the structure of the company and understand authority relationships and why their authority is to be respected. Thirdly, the organization culture clarifies and reinforces standards of behavior.
These are rules that define the appropriate and inappropriate behavior of its members. These include, challenging the judgment of superiors and collaborating with other departments. These two rules can have enormous effects on project teams. Lastly, the culture helps create social order within an organization. Management and the organization must have similar beliefs and values. Without these, the organization would be in ruins but this does not mean that every department is sharing the same values or sharing the values to the same extent as the mission statement would suggest (Gray, Larson, 2003).
Project teams can have their own culture and it may reflect the organizations but it may not to the same extent. If the project team has the same culture as the company then the project manager will not have to be as strong in terms of keeping the team out of watchful eye of management because the team knows the organization will support it in its endeavors. If the team has a very different culture then the project manager will have to be stronger to keep the team in alliance with the organizations culture. If this is the case, then the project is in for a long and miserable road to completion. The team can begin to disintegrate before the managers eyes. Management has to be honest from the beginning and the sponsor has to be able to face management when conflicts arise.
Management has to allow the team some leeway in its projects and believe in the project for it to be successful. If management is, constantly prevailing in its decisions to complete a project the project will typically fail or fall short of the expected goals set forth in the beginning of the project. If the organizational culture is too dominate, the team may have to become self-sufficient and may even have to be moved away from the company grounds (Gray, Larson, 2003). Role of Project Leadership The projects leadership and behavior are critical to the success of projects. The personality should reflect the type of projects they lead. If a project has to do build outdoor or sporting type projects then a stuffy old project leader might not be the best person.
The personality of the project leader is critical in many aspects of a project. It dictates the type of leader he will be and this should reflect the organizations personality and culture. The project team has to believe in their leader. The project leader has to follow through with what they say they will do. If the project leader indicates they will help in any way possible then when the help is actually needed, they do not have the time; over time, this leads to a team that not believe in their leader.
Or if a project leader indicates that new tools are on the way to help work on a project and the tools never get to the team, then this will eventually hurt morale by them thinking that management does not care enough to help them do their job. The project not only has to follow through with their promises they also have to handle crisis and conflict very carefully. An example given by Gray and Larson is with Hewlett-Packard (HP), one HP plant had a utilization of 40 percent capacity. Rumors were flying that layoffs were imminent and transfers were on the way. One of the principles of HP has been a commitment to human resources. Management made the choice to uphold this principle and instead of layoffs and transfers, they scheduled a nine-day work schedule over two-weeks, encouraged employees to pursue advanced degrees while on sabbatical while still receiving benefits.
With this reaction to a crisis, this instilled confidence to the employees that the leadership did believe that the human resources were important. This type of leadership not only shapes organizations but will shape project teams as well. Do what you said you are going to do. Although this cannot always be done, every effort has to be made and clear communication is required to be made to the team (Gray/Larson, 2003). Project leaders must also be consistent in its rewards and punishments attached to team members' behavior. If a team member is consistently involved in unethical behavior and is only verbally reprimanded instead of being fired this send a strong message to other members of the team that either unethical behavior is not that important or its only dependant upon who you are.
If the project leader is not consistent with the rewards and punishments of members, this will lead to ineffective performance of the team by depleting moral. The credibility of the leaders is vital to the success of not only the project but also the organization (Gray/Larson, 2003). Building and Managing a Successful Team Project managers have to build a strong team in order to be able to manage the team successfully. Project managers have to begin by selecting team members in a recruiting process. There are many ways of recruiting and hiring members. Most projects will have some pre-requisites of skills, knowledge, and experience.
Can the individual fit into the corporate culture and are the values of the individual compatible with the organization and the team? Does the team need someone aggressive and competitive or someone who is easy to get along with? It is easier to spend more time upfront and finding someone to fit the teams all around needs than to hire and fire someone because a hasty decision was made to just hire someone (Gray/Larson, 2003). Areas for successfully managing project teams include being able to conduct project meetings. This includes establishing at the beginning of the meeting what the ground rules are and keeping the meeting on its intended goals. The manager has to be able to make decisive planning decisions, be able to track decisions, manage change decisions, and work with the relationship decisions.
The project manager has to establish a team identity and create a team vision. In particular the teams vision should be shared and refers to the image of the team once the project is complete. The vision is the answer to the question: "What do we want to create?" All answers to this question from the team will not be the same but should be similar in focus. The vision encompasses four areas: 1.
passion, 2. having a strategic sense, 3. inspiring others, and 4. communication among team members (Gray/Larson, 2003). Project managers are responsibility of managing the reward system that will inspire team members to perform and put out extra effort.
Encouraging the team effort is important but being able to recognize individual work is important as well. Some ways of recognizing individuals and the team are: letters of commendation, public recognition for outstanding work, assigning good work assignments for good work, and being flexible by making exceptions to the rules (Gray/Larson, 2003). Another area for managing teams successfully is in how conflicts are managed. Many times disagreements over project priorities, resources, quality of work and solutions of a problem can lead to heated discussions and if allowed to spiral can lead to members of the team refusing to work together. The project manager can allow some disagreement to fuel a better product but has to know when the disagreement is beginning to get personal and becoming detrimental to the project.
Debates are good as are learning to compromise but not at the projects expense. The customers expectations are what the project is about as long as the cost, scope and schedule do not change. Managers can use functional conflict to help the group make better decisions. This is done by having an individual or the group come up with all the ways or reasons not to pursue a course of action. Managing dysfunctional conflict is probably the most challenging type to resolve and sometimes realize that it is a happening.
The solution can have several possibilities: 1. mediate conflict, 2. arbitrate the conflict, 3. control the conflict, 4. accept it, and 5. eliminate the conflict (Gray/Larson, 2003).
At times negative reinforcement is used to motivate teams. This is particularly useful when the project manager does not have full control over every aspect of the project. Gray and Larson give an example of a project manager in this type of situation. The project manager did have the ability to call meetings at his convenience. So, the manager called meetings at 6: 00 am every morning. After about two weeks, the project was back on schedule.
The project manager discontinued further morning meetings. This is one technique that can be used for outside contractors where the project manager does not have control over all areas of the project (Gray/Larson, 2003). As a project continues over a long period of time the initial momentum and excitement wears off. Rejuvenating the team is another management tool that is overlooked more than it is used. The manager has to know their team and know what can help rejuvenate them.
Sometimes formal actions are required such as the team analyzing its performance and reviewing how or new ways of doing things, and try to develop new ways of doing or improving processes. Consultants can be used for team building to increase performance. Whatever action is taken, whether formal or informal the lessons will have to be directly transferred to the actual project or the significance will lessen and not be effective (Gray/Larson, 2003). Conclusion The project manager has to be skilled in many areas of an organization and sometimes has to work under less than ideal situations. The areas noted earlier are important but probably the most important area is the behavior of the project manager. The behavior of the manager is critical for the success of any project.
If the manager has a bad attitude then the team will be lacking in enthusiasm and the project will likely be over budget and not on schedule. Leading by example is hard, especially when stress of the project is mounting. Corporate leaders influence the managers who influence the employees the same goes for project managers leading teams. The project manager must have discipline and be constantly aware of how personal actions are perceived by others (Gray/Larson, 2003). References Gray, C. F.
, Larson, E. W. (2003). Operations Project Management: The Managerial Process, 2 nd Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.