Digital Leadership & Soft Skills

Working with people on the project

Published by Pavel Nakonechnyy on (updated: ) in Leadership and Soft Skills, Project Management.
Working with people on the project

As Project Managers, we always work with people: project team members, Project Management Office colleagues, stakeholders, and clients. Working with other people involves dealing with them both logically and emotionally. A successful working relationship allows PM to manage the project effectively and deliver results in a timely fashion.

There are many aspects of working with people, such as emotional intelligence, personality types, trust, empathy, leadership, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, and delegation.

Emotional intelligence. Leaders control their emotions to appropriately respond to the client, project team, and project environment. Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumens of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence. PMs can use emotions positively to build commitment to goals or develop high-performing teams.

PM’s emotional intelligence helps to build trust among the team members. It plays a significant role in establishing credibility and open dialogue with project stakeholders.

Personality types. Understanding your personality type as a PM will assist you in understanding your tendencies, strengths, and behaviors in different situations. Understanding the personality types of people you work with can also help evaluate the contributions of team members and the needs of clients.

There are many tools used to assess personality types, such as the DISC – dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness – or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – a personality assessment tool that explores how individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.

The preferences are selected between pairs of opposite characteristics:

  • Extroversion (E)-Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S)-Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T)-Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J)-Perceiving (P)

Understanding these types allows PMs to adapt their communications to specific people. Extraverts prefer face-to-face meetings, while introverts prefer written communication. Sensing types focus on facts, and intuitive types want the big picture.

Leadership StylesLeaders can be categorized as autocratic or democratic; pathfinders (visionaries), problem solvers (analytical), or implementers (team-oriented); transactional (focused on actions and decisions), or transformational (focused on the long-term needs of the group and organization).

The optimal leadership approach depends on the profile of the project. A transactional project manager with a strong command and control leadership approach will be successful on a small software development project, where tasks are clear and roles are well understood. This same project manager won’t be as effective on a complex construction project.

Most leaders have a dominant leadership style that is most comfortable and adapt their approach to the environment.

Communication. As a PM, you must be perceived to be credible by the project team and key stakeholders. A successful project manager has a high degree of tolerance for ambiguity and good communication skills.

Barry Posner connected project management skills to solving problems:

  • Communication breakdown represented a lack of communication skills.
  • Uncommitted team members represented a lack of team-building skills.
  • Role confusion represented the lack of organizational skills.

One of the most important communication skills of the project manager is the ability to actively listen – to place yourself in the speaker’s position, understand the communication from the point of view of the speaker, listen to the environmental cues, and strive not just to hear, but to understand.

Negotiation is a process for developing a mutually acceptable outcome when parties cannot achieve the desired outcome at the same time. You will often negotiate with project stakeholders or team members. Negotiation is used to develop support for the project and prevent frustration.

Negotiations involve four principles:

  1. Separate people from the problem.
  2. Focus on common interests.
  3. Generate options that advance shared interests
  4. Develop results based on standard criteria

PM should first seek to understand the position of the other party and what outcomes are desirable to the project.

Conflict Resolution. Conflict on a project is to be expected because of the level of stress, lack of information during the early phases of the project, personal differences, role conflicts, and limited resources. Good planning, communication, and team building can reduce the amount of conflict.

David Whetton and Kim Cameron developed a response-to-conflict model that reflects the importance of the issue balanced against the importance of the relationship:

  1. Avoiding
  2. Forcing
  3. Collaborating
  4. Compromising
  5. Accommodating

Each of these approaches can be effective and useful depending on the situation.

Delegation. Delegating responsibility and work is a critical project management skill. If the project manager delegates too little authority to make decisions and take action, the lack of a decision or action will cause delays in the Project. Delegating too much authority who do lack the knowledge, skills, or information will cause problems leading to delays or increased Project Costs.

On smaller projects, the PM provides daily guidance to project team members on all major decisions. On larger projects, designated project team leaders make many important decisions.

Combining all these skills PM can solve most human-relating problems arising on the project, removing the obstacles and their negative impact on the Project Time, Cost, Scope, and Quality.