We live in a world which is increasingly being driven by automation, tools, and data. Companies have been referring to their human capital as ‘resources’ since eons. The Project management, space is no different. With organizations investing in advanced project management tools and globalization driving a need for collaboration, the people side of project management does tend to get ignored more often than not. At Celoxis, we believe Project Management = People + Tools + Culture.

The Human side of Project Management

In this blog, I am going to focus on the people aspect of project management.

Hear them out

Behind every successful project is a tight-knit team.  And good teams get the job done because they communicate well. As the leader of the pack, the project manager needs to make sure the team members are contributing to the end objective. And that can happen only when they feel involved. Project managers need to create a collaborative environment where team members can contribute to the ideation, innovation and the decision making process in a relevant capacity. In a scenario where teams are in diverse locations, this becomes all the more crucial. A collaborative environment will create a healthy synergy among organizations and guide them towards a common goal. According to Steve Jobs, Apple’s success lies in the ability to let ideas and innovation drive products and hierarchy just being an enabler (See Video).

Understand their needs

The hierarchy could be important when it comes to organizational effectiveness. The hierarchy also is the most significant cause of people issues in organizations. When information only flows from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy, there is trouble brewing. Organizational leaders across the hierarchy need to feel the pulse of the people; understand their challenges, their needs, and their aspirations. A healthy two-way communication across hierarchy is a must when it comes to creating high-performance organizations. Leaders need to have regular touch points with teams to be clued in and mitigate any potential risks. Successful organizations put their people first. The hierarchy should bring people together not break them apart.

Make them more productive

We live in an environment we are required to do more with less. Profitability today means reducing operational costs and increasing productivity. Irrespective of the economic climate and cost pressures, productivity should be part of organizational DNA. Project Managers, as leaders need to lead by example, take ownership, and drive actions that accomplish productivity objectives. This requires a data-driven approach and an organizational culture that thrives on continuous improvement. It also demands the adoption of project management tools that can measure productivity across the organization. Productivity should not be treated just as a target, but more as a way to work. Companies like Google have been able to create ultra-successful products using time kept aside for innovation. While it is tough to inculcate productivity as a culture, if done well, it does wonders for people as they progress ahead in the professional journey.

Appreciate their efforts

In his HBR blog ‘Why Appreciation Matters So Much’, Tony Schwartz writes – Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energizing. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value. Appreciation is more valuable than money, and it has a longer shelf life. Recognition gets people through the tough times. Organizations need to nurture a culture of appreciating their people and celebrating success. It goes a long way in building loyalty and dedication to purpose.

Nurture talent

You can have all the tools, processes and systems in place, but when it comes to getting the work done, you rely on people. That’s the golden truth, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Human intelligence is what built those tools and processes in the first place. Organizations tend to get caught up in numbers, procedures, and protocols, ignoring their most valuable asset, human capital. That’s a recipe for disaster. Successful companies invest time, money and effort in their employee programs, be it training, career progression or retention initiatives. It is essential to identify key talent at various levels and ensure focus on aspects such as performance, coaching, and development program for each individual. These steps enable a healthy talent pipeline and a strong project execution engine.

Combine these HUMAN aspects with a comprehensive project management tool and a strong organizational culture; that’s the secret sauce to effective project management.