On managing people….

Managing the people within our organisations is one of our most difficult tasks as leaders. To demonstrate this, let’s look at project leadership. The 3 traditional aspects which require management are time, scope and budget. While they have their own complexity, they are also relatively fixed and can be measured in very tangible and quantitative ways. These are the inanimate dimensions of an organisation or a project.

People on the other hand, as we know, are infinitely more complex. There are personal quirks, tendencies and moods. Each individual has certain work preferences and talents and their own unique profile when it comes to things like motivation, change and stress. And all of this does not take into account the interpersonal dynamics which get constellated when people work together on a common task. What happens when your “quirk” bounces off my “bad mood” or your fear of change triggers my fear of failure? It’s a recipe for chaos, not to mention a very ineffective team.

In some ways project leadership is like extreme leadership.  This is because it contains all the usual challenges of leadership along with some extra ones created by the project management model itself.

So as project leaders its so much easier to focus our attention and resources on the time, scope and budget aspects of the project. After all, they are easier to manage and to measure, and also less complex to correct should they not meet milestones. Furthermore, the technical aspects of a project eg IT or engineering fall right into our familiar skill set, so why shouldn’t we just play to our strong suit.

Here’s why!

Because simply playing to this strong suit does not necessarily help us to manage our people better. Sometimes the way forward to just ask better questions. Unfortunately, better questions can sometimes mean the answers are not as simple or as obvious. But surely, this has to be one of the responsibilities of leadership- challenging ourselves to examine the process aspects of a project as well as the task related ones.

The process aspects of leadership involve asking questions about the strength of our delegation, how well we motivate members from diverse groups, do we have a participative decision making process to support stakeholder buy in, and if our strategy is sound and sustainable. It is the courage to ask these difficult questions and the honest reflection that follows that will find solutions to these complex challenges. And that in turn will start to build high performance teams and supports organisational outcomes.

Visit our 4DPM program to find out more about how you can increase the capacity of your Project Managers to leas their people. http://truenorthlearning.com.au/problem-solvers/4dpm.php