Project Management Is a People Business

From the Voices on Project Management Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Roberto Toledo
Vivek Prakash
Cyndee Miller
Shobhna Raghupathy
Wanda Curlee
Rex Holmlin
Christian Bisson
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Jess Tayel
Ramiro Rodrigues
Linda Agyapong
Joanna Newman

Past Contributers:

Jorge Valdés Garciatorres
Hajar Hamid
Dan Goldfischer
Saira Karim
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
William Krebs
Peter Taylor
Rebecca Braglio
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

Recent Posts

Are We Done Disrupting Yet?

Go Ahead and Fail—It Could Be the Way to Succeed

3 Tips for Building a Strong Project Team

3 Skills Project Managers Will Need In The Future

Creativity Is for Project Managers, Too


Categories: Human Aspects of PM


by Dave Wakeman

I try to start each post with some sort of hypothesis. In some cases, the hypothesis is clear to me, and, hopefully, you. Other times, however, the hypothesis doesn’t become clear until I’m done writing. 

This month, I’m on the side of a clear hypothesis built around much of what I have written about the last few years: The ultimate consideration project professionals need to keep in mind is that we’re in a people business. In the long run, the person with the best people skills often has an advantage. 

But what does that really mean? 

Communication is the key skill of a project manager.

I’m sure this falls into the trite, clichéd area of project management advice. But as I’ve witnessed time and again over the last few months, we often need a refresher on the basics of our profession. 

Being an effective communicator starts with having an expectation of what clear communication looks like, having a schedule that highlights what communication will look like and following through on your communication ideas. 

No matter what, remember your number-one job is to be a communicator. 

Communication is a people skill. 

Decisions are emotional, not rational. 

Spoiler alert: No matter what the decision is, emotion drives it. 

People like to think of themselves as rational. But that in and of itself is a nod to the emotion necessary to take action on an idea. 

You see, by trying to remove all emotion from a decision, you are often slowing yourself down because you are afraid of making a mistake. 

Being afraid is an emotion. 

Being excited is an emotional response. 

Whatever action you take is driven by emotion. 

Even if you don’t take any action, that’s an emotional response. Apathy occurs when the idea that you are being asked to take action on isn’t interesting enough for you to care about. 

People have emotions. Project managers deal with people. 

Projects are driven by ideas. People have ideas, processes don’t.
This one is likely to get the most action in the comments section because as project managers we think of ourselves as process driven. 

This is true. 

But, if we’re only process driven, we’re likely not doing our best work. Because even though we have processes in place to help guide a project and deliver it effectively, we still have a lot of discretion in our actions — or we should. 

Let’s think about this. If you have a certain amount of experience, I hope that you’ve had the opportunity to make mistakes and have successes. In the course of these experiences, you should have learned how to do things effectively or differently than the standardized process might suggest. 

Here is a dirty secret: In most cases, by the time a process has been established, there might be a better way of doing it that hasn’t had the time to be incorporated into the process yet. 

That’s why discretion is so important. It can save you time, money and trouble on your project. 

Processes don’t have discretion, but people do. 

While these are only three examples—and they’re likely obvious to most of us—I think it is important to hit refresh about the role of project managers from time to time. 

What are other examples of project management being a people business? 

 

 

Posted by David Wakeman on: July 20, 2018 12:18 PM | Permalink

Comments (16)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Excellent article, thank you so much, It is all about communication

Good article about inter personnel skills!!!

Success of a project often depends on the skills of the project manager. When project managers change, the performance of projects also changes.

It's true we can't divorce the emotion that drives most decisions, but we can exhibit a degree of emotional intelligence in order to detach a little from the emotional drivers.

Great points. Thanks, Dave. Processes should act as guardrails to allow for individuals the flexibility to make the best decisions within a framework that fits their experience and specific requirements.

Very good article!

Great article Dave !!
Thanks a lot.

Good article Dave, I completely agree with Sante here. Emotion, an essential driver to effectively completing a project, must be controlled by a certain degree of detachment to judiciously handle interpersonal relationships. Emotional intelligence is therefore the key to personal and professional success of a project manager.

I have worked in the education market place for nearly 10 years and would say often that "every job is a customer service job". This extend to every role in every organization. I think this is exemplified in your article. Thanks!

Another example of projects being a people business is with stakeholder communication and management. It is very important to keep all interested parties in the loop as the project progresses. I liked this blog entry, it's a great reminder that processes are good, but discretion should be used when employing them because they are a tool to help us work better with people.

Very interesting article, thanks

Thanks for the article. Very well written and informative.

People business, yes. Decisions being emotional, absolutely. During any meeting, whether it's communication's planning, risk management, etc., a quiet stakeholder is not a good sign. In this case, silence does not acknowledge approval. As a PM, one has to be cognizant that silence is often fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. It's up to the PM to identify and recognize this in order to keep the conversation going and productive.

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors

Vendor Events

See all Vendor Events