Week 9: Project Human Resource Management

Project Human Resource Management is focused on the project team, their organisation, management and leadership. It is defined in PMBOK as:

“the processes that organise, manage and lead the project team.”

The following video discusses the characteristics of an effective project manager:

There are four major processes in the PMBOK:

1. Develop the human resource plan.

2. Acquire the project team.

3. Develop the project team.

4. Manage the project team.

Developing the human resource plan involves the use of organisation charts and position descriptions, networking and organisational theory to determine the approach that will be taken to managing people inside the project team.

The second major process is to acquire the project team. People may be preassigned to the project when the project is identified, negotiation may be required to obtain people from within the organisation and negotiation may be needed to agree terms with potential project team members. Virtual teams may be used, applying internet technologies to enabling project team members to work together at a distance. The acquire project team processes result in project staff having their assignments and resource calendars that schedule when resources will be used on the project.

The third major process is the development of the project team. This involves prpearing the team to be successful in the project and may include the development of interpersonal skills, training in skills that are needed for the project and engaging in team building activities. Development may also include establishing team ground rules, colocating the team to improve team communication and creating an appropriate recognition and rewards system for the project team. The following video discusses the management of high performing teams:

The fourth major process is the management of the project team. This is done through the use of interpersonal skills, the conduct of project performance appraisals and managing any conflict within the project team.

Project Teams: How Good Are They

Quality Progress, a respected industry magazine, undertook a survey of project team members to understand how effectively they were operating. Based on 1905 responses, the results are of significant concern. In the following video, project team members discuss the importance of teamworking skills:

The survey first looked at the big picture for project teams – what were the overall trends. Next it looked more deeply into the areas of concern and then it examined the leadership of project teams and issues that might exist there. Finally  suggestions were made for improvement.

The statistics in the following chart illustrate the issues. Only 46.9 percent of project team members reported that their projects always or often met their goals. Only 32.6 percent said that their projects were always or often on time and on budget. 46 percent said that their project goals were sometimes unattainable:

This video is og a discussion at NASA on effective project teams:

When the activities of project teams were looked at in more detail project team members continued to report disturbing trends. One third reported that project goals were unclear and 42 percent said that they were unclear about their role in the project. 48.2 percent reported problems with dealing with team conflict and 44 percent said that intra team communications were poor. 38 % reported that there were no standard project management processes in their projects, while 40 % said that they felt little repsonsibility for the success of their fellow team members, indicating very poor team spirit and commitment.

One of the skills that is important in effective team membership is conflict management:

Project leadership was also problematic. Nearly half of project team members reported poor team leadership and a significant deficiency in project leader capability. They said that conflict management was poor and half said that their project managers were either insufficiently assertive or too aggressive. This video provides some tips on being assertive:

The article on the survey concludes with some suggestions on how this situation might be improved. These include the need to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to allow projects to be successful and the need for project leadership development. They argue for a disciplined adherence to project processes and for an appropriate performance management system for project team members. Finally they say that more attention needs to be given to project interpersonal dynamics.

Team Communications: Social Network Analysis

Team communications is the final area that is examined in this week of the course. Social Network Analysis focuses on analysing communications within teams and is useful in considering the issues in team communications.

Information technology has expanded the methods of communication that are available to the project team. Social network analysis allows communications within the team to be made visible. Who is working with whom can be seen as can the strength of the links between team members, who the key players are and how information is moving in the team.

Teams can be analysed in two ways: Ego centred where one person’s connections can be analysed and range of influence established or the whole communication network can be viewed and key participants identified.

Communications structures within teams are often fairly clear and these can change as the project proceeds and people’s roles change. People play different roles within teams. Some people are simply good team members, contributing effectively and engaging in balanced communication. Others are linkers or liaisons who bring people together, others are isloated and keep to themselves while some are stars, drawing people to them and acting as a hub for the group.

The linkages within the group can be examined from a number of perspectives to understand the balance of communication, the centres of influence, the direction that communications take, the responses people recieve and the complexity of their relationships. Analysis of these factors can allow issues in the team to be identified.

Metrics can be produced on team communications that can allow the size of the network to be compared to that of teams on similar projects and the density (direction and intensity of communication) can be examined as a measure of the effectiveness of project teamwork.

The following video discusses social network analysis:

Summary

This week of the course has looked at project human resource management, first outlining the processes for this from the PMBOK. We then looked at evidence on the operation of real world project teams and identified a number of issues that should be addressed by project managers. Finally, social network analysis was described as a tool for understanding communication in project teams.

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