There is so much project management help available. A quick search elicits a plethora of results such as ‘42 Project Management Software’ or ‘The Ten Best Project Management Tools’. The Association of Project Management’s most viewed video is their ‘Introduction to Project Management’. There really is no mystery left around project management.

Fundamentally, it is the practice of setting goals, checking progress, reporting on variants, being clear about responsibilities, knowing when to escalate, and taking account of dependencies. The process makes logical sense. 

However, almost every project management course will consider the people aspect; however sophisticated your software, or wonderful your flow charts, at some point the success of the project is reliant on individuals meeting targets and achieving objectives. 

So how do you manage the human aspect of project management effectively? Here are our four Top Tips. 

1.    Make conversation

Keep talking to your project team. Regular conversations will enable you to spot more quickly when things are not going according to plan and enable your team to create solutions swiftly. 

2.    Know your team

When things go off course is when we really need to understand, and be sensitive to, team dynamics. At the outset, consider using a model such as Belbin to understand the nature of the differences between people in your team. Belbin’s team roles identify variations in personal characteristics and recognise these as a source of strength. A good project manager, having identified these, can then utilise them.  

3.    Reward success

Recognise the importance of reward, praise and motivation. Show your interest in the progress people are making, reward them for their effort and show your appreciation for them achieving goals along the way. Do not underestimate how motivating it is to recognise effort as well as achievement. 

4.    Learn your lessons

A project by its very nature has a beginning and an end. If your objectives have been met within your agreed timescale then everyone will go back to business as usual. However, there is often ‘project creep’, squeezing people’s potential bandwidth and time for reflection. 

Lessons learned is an integral part of the Prince2 methodology, a project management tool originating in the public sector. A lessons learned meeting is planned in, to create time for reflection on what could have been done better. Create an environment where people feel they can be open and honest and have transparent conversations about what really went on in the project. 

This is the crux of good project management – to pay more attention to the people aspect of projects. 

Check out the thoughts of Roger L Martin, the world’s top ranked management thinker and leading business strategist, on what is at stake if managers lose sight of the human dimension, in the 10th Global Drucker Report. The theme of the eponymously named forum, held in late 2018, was ‘Management: The Human Dimension’ and explored the edge that human beings bring to business. 

How to lead projects in practice

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