Good people management

Good People Management is gaining importance

A project’s top KPI’s are Quality, Quantity and Time. There are quite a few other ones but these 3 stand apart. To deliver these, there needs to be a good team.  A good team needs good individuals.

But the project cannot be delivered as individuals !

For a successful project, individuals have to be brought together to run as the parts of an automobile. If tyres are flat, there is no use of the world’s most efficient and powerful engine !

The People management part of Project Management is hence a complex and key skill. Team members need a leader, not just a manager who only assigns and reviews tasks. Life is becoming more complex, sensitive and stressful and office is where an employee spends the maximum time in a day. Plus long travel especially in big cities. Hence life in office has an impact on the person’s overall psyche and behaviour.

Humans too have a wear & tear like machines and office life either expedites or mitigates it.

Organisations which want their staff to be happy at office and maintain work-life balance look for managers who lead teams humanely but deliver to the mark. They want to managers to ably handle both – people and project. Hence the manager needs to balance between being Stern and Soft.

Stern when it comes to discipline, principles, schedules and monitoring. But Soft when it comes to ensuring that staff remain excited and encouraged at work, have low intra-team issues, distractions are minimum, and get supported through tough times.

To create a high-performing team, know your staff comprehensively – Capability, Personality and important Personal details.

How to know your staff well

  • Assess capability: Analyse your team member’s technical capability and skills. Assess how close they are to the project’s requirements. Also find their communication skills.
  • Know your staff’s key personal details: If yours is a critical project, keep a tab on potential issues that would impact his/her presence and concentration. Like major sickness, serious disputes at home etc. This helps in 3 ways- 1 to decide what critical tasks can be assigned, 2 to prepare contingency plans, 3 to be ready to provide necessary help when needed.
  • Find the Career history and expectations: Past issues in career. Some past issues like denied promotions, revisions or vacations could be impacting now. He/she may be expecting something that can offset past losses.
  • Temperament: In the initial days watch how the member reacts to situations and his/her teaming with other members.

Steps to enhance your People Management aspect

  • Contingency Plan: Having a contingency plan for critical members helps in allowing staff to take time off when in personal crisis, without affecting delivery.
  • Explain expectations: Explain the expectations to your team starting from your organisation to the last actor of your project.Your team needs to understand the entire flow. For e.g. if you are doing a technology project for a bank, their work is critical because:
    • Your organisation needs to make the customer (Bank’s Technology staff) happy
    • The Bank’s Technology staff need to keep their customers (Business Staff) happy.
    • The Bank’s Business staff needs to keep the Bank’s customers (Account holders) happy.
  • Being with them: Spend time with team at lunches and outdoor team integration events. When with them, be one of them, be open, trustable and in sync with them. Not as a imposing serious faced manager secretly trying to collect information.
  • Reduce Intra-team issues: Settle intra-person issues quickly at the first alert, without bias towards a more senior or more expert staff member. Do not delay. It can be counter-productive otherwise in the long run. Get into the root of the issue and make a mutually agreeable settlement. Closely watch them get along for a few days. If it doesn’t work, one of them may need to be moved out of the team or project.
  • Enhance performance: Talk to low-performers regularly and motivate. Help them with training, skills, tricks and quick tips at work. Some of them will turn into top performers soon.
  • Help in Support tasks: Help them by getting support from Finance, HR etc units to solve their problems like re-reimbursements, leaves, arrears etc. This will ensure they have more time and energy to concentrate on work.
  • Knowledge Sharing: Enable sharing of knowledge and issues between members through planned sessions. This ensures team members in a large project are not re-inventing the wheel for the same problem.
  • Go the extra mile: For staff who believe were treated badly in past projects, go the extra mile to help them with incentives, better revisions or promotions whenever they are eligible.  They will be super-productive and indebted to you. When you are in crisis, they will be the first to help.

Form the A-Team: It is good for You, your Team and your Organisation

For a Project Manager, good People Management is critical for success. Note that the more challenging your project is, the more important it becomes. Leave old and traditional methods of management similar to a labour master. It is a young, fast and knowledgeable generation coming up going ahead. Be agile, transparent and fair with the team while managing your project’s tasks and goals. Your team’s success is your project’s success. So Help your team to help yourself !

Only a win-win type of management will be successful in the future.