An article written by Stan Portny that appeared in US Industry Today

The Human Side of Project Management

It's not all flow charts and expenditure tracking techniques.  The most important part of managing any project is dealing with the people.

What do the words project management mean to you?  For many people, graphs, charts and mountains of paper spring to mind.  Sure, there's a technical component involved in guiding a project from beginning through performance to closure.  But project management is as much about relationships - getting people aligned intellectually, emotionally and psychologically - as it is about mastering. say, the network diagram technique.  And knowing these skills can benefit virtually everyone in every level of an organization . . . regardless of your job title or field of expertise.

Over the years, I've discovered that more and more people are beginning to better understand what project management is - and to realize it is a required progression in their own career paths.  And business professionals are always asking me how they can run their projects more smoothly and with better results.

As I mentioned earlier, people skills are the most important facet of project management.  This has always been my philosophy, and, quite frankly, it's a major focus of my consulting business.  In fact, I have written a new book that, in addition to helping professionals everywhere gain a working knowledge of project management tools and techniques, offers lots of information on the human side of the industry.

Titled Project Management For DummiesŪ, it is filled with tips like these:

  • Find a project champion.

An effective champion should have the following characteristics:

  • Sufficient power and authority to be able to resolve conflicts over resources, schedules and technical issues
  • A keen interest in the results your project will produce
  • A willingness to have his or her name cited as a strong supporter of your project
  • Have no authority over a person?  Hold him or her accountable to the team.

Your most valuable professional asset is your reputation.  When a person promises to do something for you, let others on your team know about the promise.  When the person lives up to that promise, acknowledge it in front of his or her colleagues.  If the person does not live up to the promise, let him or her know that you'll share that information with others, too.

  • Help a micromanager gain confidence in you.  Here's how:
  • Don't be defensive or resentful when the person asks you questions; doing so will make it appear as though you were hiding something and will make the person worry even more.
  • Thank the micromanager for his or her interest, time and technical guidance.  Complaining about the excessive oversight will only strain your relationship, increase the person's fears and insecurities, and most likely cause the person to micromanage you in even more detail.
  • Offer to explain to the person how you will approach your tasks.
  • Work with the person to develop a scheme for sharing progress and accomplishments.
  • Develop meaningful and frequent checkpoints.
  • Increase your influence over team members by doing the following:
  • Clarify for yourself the reasons why successfully completing the project is in your organization's best interest, and share those reasons with others.
  • Get to know others and understand, appreciate and acknowledge their special talents and strengths.
  • Let others get to know your good side.  Your power to influence people is based on their perceptions of your character, abilities and authority.
  • Don't condemn or complain but do give feedback when necessary.
  • Become proficient in the tasks you have to perform.

Can you see how these principles can make your workday smoother and more productive?  If your job requires working with people to achieve a common goal, I assure you they will.

In short, the skills and techniques of project management aren't burdensome tasks to be performed because some process requires it.  Instead, they're a way of thinking, a way of communicating, and a way of behaving.  They are incorporated into the essence of how we approach all of our work every day.