By Dr. Alejandro Paredes, Ph.D,PMP, SPP, M.Sc.
Professor of the Human Resources and Communications Management course in the Master in Project Management Program at the University for International Cooperation.
Human resources are critical and important to achieve the goals and success of the project. Proper treatment of personnel allows the project manager to achieve and in some cases exceed the expectations of key stakeholders. This of course is not easy and requires science and art.
People do not like being administered but led. That means we manage processes but not people who by nature don´t like to follow orders or instructions. Perfectly we manage processes but people have to lead them. Now, the simplest definition of leadership is influence. To influence people requires high levels of management and soft skills which you have to develop professionally. When you have influence, this allows applying tasks to the team and they in return will do the utmost effort, seek to produce a product or service of quality and to the best. The influence requires not only give orders or instructions but rather to have a personal relationship with people.
Having friendship with the staff is not easy because it´s important to avoid falling into one end in which people abuse the trust of a project manager and believe that they can lower their performance. To build a good relationship you need trust and this is achieved when an employee shows competence in their work and do it well integrity.
The key to have a high performance team is to ensure the proper hiring from the start. If you hire staff during this first phase with deficiencies or bad attitudes then the project will suffer in the fulfillment of its objectives and indicators. So it is recommended that when conducting interviews, experienced staff has to ensure an assertive recruitment. The second recommendation is to provide a time of two month trial in which the new employee and the employer can develop a baseline and later determine whether they fit with the requirements and expectations of the project.
The project by definition has high levels of stress which ultimately impacts the relationships between staff. More uncertainty, risk and complexity of the project, then the higher the stress on the whole team. When stress increases, people usually tend to bring out the worst. This means that the bad temper, impatience, anger, gossip, bad attitudes, etc are beginning to emerge and cause interpersonal conflicts. There are techniques and methods to treat every interpersonal conflict but in the end is a combination of science and art. It is mentioned art because not only is enough to follow a procedure or a list of steps to solve these problems. You have to listen a lot, observe, and be patient, have empathy and insight to identify causes, key problem and its effects.
Staff underperforming or with bad attitudes may well wear the project manager if suitable and timely untreated. Because it is important to not wear during these types of disputes it is important to identify three groups of employees. One group is of high performance; the other is a normal group and the last is a low performance which is difficult people. The key in this process is to focus on the first group of high performance as this group will be encourage, establish a culture and climate of achievements and hard work. The second group of normal performance should be given the right support and the last try not to wear.
When a systematization of processes is created, then a unique project methodology is implemented in the project. This systematization process has a cost but ultimately it has high profits and dividends. In the case of human talent it is not as easy as you have to create an appropriate climate and culture and that takes time. It may also be that staff are well and suddenly by an internal or external circumstance, the situation alters the personal and interpersonal conflicts escalating increase. It is recommended to maintain an optimal level of trust, empowerment and environment of teamwork in addition to constantly remind the ground rules for all personnel to remain aligned to the project objectives.
Modern project management requires a lot of administrative process but also a lot of leadership. Both they complement and are required for excellent management practice.