7 tips to help lead the human element of project management

The one constant in project management is people management

In the world of project management, it is usual for executives, customers and others to focus on process; the method of moving from position A to position B. Often, this focus is so extreme that the most important element of all project work is largely overlooked: people.

People are the one constant in all project work. They are needed to complete tasks successfully. Without them, projects would not get off the ground, never mind reach their intended destination. When planning a long road trip, you consider the people involved. When and for how long will the driver need to rest? What food and drink should we take? What about medications and emergency supplies?

In project management, it is imperative to consider all the people involved. Those who are undertaking work on the project itself, and those whom the project will affect. These people are key to project success. Project managers need to be people managers, too.

Here are seven tips to help project managers with the human element of project management.

1.      Pay attention to health and safety

People must be safe to work. This should be the number one rule in your workplace. It should be the number one rule in project work. If your people don’t feel safe, they will not be fully focused. Remember, too, that health and safety needs are likely to evolve during the lifecycle of a project.

2.      Know your project stakeholders

Knowing who your project stakeholders are is an important piece of all projects. You should plan to understand who they are, and be prepared for stakeholders to change during the project. One way to ensure you know your stakeholders at all times is to review at the end of each project stage.

3.      Engage your project stakeholders

Engage your project stakeholders in the project by involving them early and constantly. Discuss the why, what, when, how and who of the project with them. This will help them understand the strategy, and encourage them to become active participants in the project. The insight for your project stakeholders can be invaluable.

4.      Attend to people organisation and structure

Pick your project team for the effectiveness of individuals and the team. Consider the skills needed – both hard and soft skills – and ensure that your project team is structured effectively to maximise these skill sets. Use a project management plan (PMP) to help the project team design and control the execution of the project.

5.      Empower your project team to do its job

By setting roles and responsibilities within your project team, you should enable smoother management of the operational side of project work. To empower your project team in this, you will need to provide support with systems, processes, resources and materials.

The support you provide should include effective lines of communication, enabling the swift reporting of issues so that remedial measures can be implemented.

6.      Help team members to develop

While projects are usually directed by business needs, the developmental aspects should not be ignored. There are always lessons to be learned during the project lifecycle, and opportunities for people to upskill. By individualising aspects of project work and connecting team members and stakeholders to the project, it takes on new, personalised meanings. When projects are seen as career positive, the outcomes are more likely to be positive.

7.      Project managers should manage people

Finally, the project must be managed in the human context. You will need to ensure that the evolution of the project is monitored appropriately, recording and reporting against the baseline expectations. Consider how to engage your people in this process, helping them to understand and identify risks and opportunities.

In summary

No two projects are the same, but there is one constant in project work: people. Project managers must be people managers. They must learn to understand behaviours and how to motivate performance. The success of project management is measured in deadlines, budget, and timely delivery. Without people, none of this will happen.

To discover how effective project management could ensure your projects are delivered successfully, contact Your Project Manager today:

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