Personality-driven Project Management

Project management as a discipline has undergone a tectonic shift of implementation styles. It is one of the primary disciplines that acknowledges and put in place robust structures in place to assess and manage Risks. Risks that can hamper successful delivery or completion of the projects. With millennials joining the workforces and now entering the domain of managing projects the human aspect of Project management is getting more pronounced.

Any discipline that has a high human touchpoint is prone to have an elevated variation potential and add the individual project managers style the delivery and completion gets even more variated. In the generation driven by click economy, even the project management had to evolve, and more active adoption of Agile methodologies has been seen in recent times. One of the primary reasons is the elevated focus on interactions and reduced delivery times.

PMI’s latest attempt to adopt a Talent triangle is an attempt to blend in the required diverse skills and personality traits that a Project Manager should possess. Otherwise, never have we discussed the project management discipline with respect to the personality behavioral standpoint so openly. The standards established for Project Management and the processes, tools & frameworks established have all enforced a project manager to conform to the confinements of these age-old frameworks. Flexibility was there but was left for the better judgment of the project manager to follow what suits them best. This is my strength I believe that this flexibility should be empowered with specific tools that suit a Project Manager’s personality.

Flat design style modern vector illustration concept of teamwork consulting on briefing small business project presentation group of people planning and brainstorming ideas of company financial strategy.

Let us explore the tools and strategies that project managers can pick and choose based on their personality & working styles. The key human aspects that are impacted the most by a project manager’s personality and work style are:

  1. Communication Management
  2. Stakeholder Management
  3. Risk Management
  4. Resource Management

Rest all fields in Project management for example Cost Management, Project Control, Schedule Management are all driven by metrics and measurements, so human factor has a lesser impact on those parts of the Project Management discipline. The indicator of any slippage or lag get reflected well in time, but the above four ones get wedged the most in case of varying personality types. You may ask why, but these all are largely related to a person’s style, confidence, command on his soft skills. Let me elaborate this through a case for you to consider.

Risk Management as an example

Risk management is one of the most crucial parts of any project. Big programs have dedicated people performing & continuous Risk assessment of a project that has big implications alike in Infrastructure Development projects and IT Big programs. But we all know it is the medium or small sized projects that are most vulnerable in managing their changing risks.

Our increasing knowledge of the discipline has further evolved the risk management into several layers. Anything and everything that causes a project to miss its schedule, budget or quality is a risk and that means there could be so many potential risk factors. Risk can be introduced by lack or inadequate stakeholder management, or even not managing expectations.

Resources were supposed to be hired and put into teams as they were considered as emotionless bots earlier. With millennials entering the workforce and start asking questions about their value addition rather than just taking orders has changed the dynamics of resource management too.

With all these parties becoming active stakeholders and bringing their own emotions into the dynamics, the communication management which was already taking 80% of a project manager’s time has become even more critical. Though this has made the overall project experience wealthier and richer as the whole team is now fully engaged and immersed in delivering value to end customer, the role of project manager has indeed now become a servant leader. This brings me to a very different way of looking at project management’s human approach.

Communication management for Projects or firefighters communicating your way to glory with the team

Personality traits like Introvert or extrovert personalities handle communications differently. Where extroverts prefer to have more and more engagement with stakeholders be it sponsors, resources, vendors or management, as they thrive in public speaking and getting their vision or message through, whereas introverts prefer more structured written or nicely drafted messaging and communication systems where they go out of their way to provide all information to all stakeholders in advance so that in-person communication happens only in the case of absolutely necessary.

Risk Management for a project or Risk-Driven Project Management

Under traditional project management tools, we have Risk assessment tools provided to project managers to track, quantify and manage different risks, but often the biggest risk to a project is a project manager’s procrastination. If the project manager is of a person who waits till the last moment for things to boil up, then do you think the project manager will put his/her own procrastination on the Risk Register or RAID log? Probably not. This means the project is facing a risk that can spring up surprises at any moment.

By my personal experience – these project managers usually do a good job in running Production Support systems, as their personality usually gets Switched On when there is a crisis and believe it or not turbulent Production environments where applications are not stable brings the best out of these guys, as they could be excellent firefighters.

Managing Human Resources as assets or empowering teams to be cross-functional

Many project managers from past decade still hold on to the style of looking at the human resources in a project as an asset, and still, believe that project’s performance can be successfully altered by throwing more resources at the problem or saving cost be taking resources out. More often they end up demoralizing their teams as the team feels undervalued and they too shut down their enthusiastic engagement in the project.

What is the trade-off? A disengaged team running the daily routine without passion. Project managers should understand that in a war you don’t send individual soldiers but battalions that have a sense of brotherhood deeply ingrained into them which helps them to look after each other in case of deep threats and fight for each other to get the victory at any cost. They make more than just the numbers.

Conclusion

This difference in personality makes various tools provided to the project managers vital. Organizations should think of putting tools in place that supports both types. Why? The answer is quite easy if project managers are comfortable with their tools their delivery and grasp on their projects increase. We need to understand that in a few years, millennials will be entering the project management fold, but if we never put in the effort of building the new set of tools that simplify the project management for them, the discipline may be seen more a clerical and process-oriented affair and creativity of project management will be left far behind.

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