Project management is built around structured methodology – usually – and best practices. There are processes to follow, procedures to implement and documentation to create and deliver. It’s actually pretty structured when you think about it. Or at least it can be.
But if we just follow a rigid process, will we really be successful? How does the human element apply to project management? Here are my thoughts…. I’m thinking it centers around a few concepts or activities such as communication, organization, ambition and control. While we don’t all have those traits, I think most individuals who would be categorized as somewhat normal have something within their being that, under the right circumstances, strives to achieve those traits. Let me elaborate…
As humans, we all feel the need to communicate with each other from time to time. It’s my experience that your average project manager is – or should be – on the high end of that need. Communication is key, but it still must be good, timely and effective communication. If you’re on the quiet side, you’re probably in the wrong profession.
Ok, as for me, I’m not the most organized person at home…just ask my wife. But as a project manager, I’m usually pretty organized. I wake up late at night if I’ve failed to send out an email or feel the need to update my team or the customer on something and I have to get out of bed and do it then or I’ll never get back to sleep. I must have a routine schedule for each of my projects – a regular weekly formal status call with the team and customer, a specific day of the week when the revised project schedule and status report goes out, and a specific day of the week when I have a ‘scheduled’ call with my team – I say scheduled because there’s always a lot of unscheduled communication with them also.
The project manager must have ambition…ambition to reach the final goal for the project. Ambition to take on more responsibility. Ambition to progress in their field. If you lack that ambition, then you’re less likely to stay on top of processes and the current technology to do your job well. And it will show in your work. Project success is hard enough to achieve given all of the potential obstacles and factors. It’s critical that the PM have the ambition and drive to succeed and lead their team and customer to similar successes.
Finally, control. Control kind of goes hand-in-hand with organization. The project manager must remain in control – they must be the person that the organization, the team and the customer sees as always ‘in charge.’ Otherwise, chaos will take over. It takes a certain personality….a certain confidence. If you don’t have it, you’ll likely find out soon enough. At least your team and customer will.
The human element is a necessary – an absolute necessary – aspect of project management and it’s what makes us great project managers. And it can also be our biggest flaws in failed projects. What are your thoughts about the human element of project management? I think the true human element is what can separate good project managers from great project managers. Please share your thoughts…