PMP Exam Prep – Part 12: Project Human Resource Management

This section of the PMBOK explores issues of teaming and working together and getting people moving towards common goals. A lot of the content is weighted heavily towards team development and dealing with conflict and behavioral issues that tend to arise in project situations.

Human Resource Management concepts covered in this section

There are several Human Resource concepts that we will cover in this section

  • Forms of Organizations
  • Project Manager’s roles and responsibilities
  • Power that a project manager can exercise
  • Project conflict – definition; how do we manage it?
  • Team building – motivation theories
  • Personnel issues

I’ve also included a quick overview of the Project Management processes relating to this knowledge area:

  • Develop Human Resource Plan: This process involves identifying; documenting and assigning project roles and responsibilities and reporting relationships, as well as creating a staffing management plan. In other words, we are trying to put a Project Organization in place in order to support our projects.
  • Acquire Project Team: This is the process of getting the right people to do the job. It involves us actually going out and tracking down people and bringing them onboard the project team. Take note that it is not necessarily the project manager’s responsibility and that this task is commonly done by Human Resources teams with the Project Manager providing guidance on the appropriate skill sets required for the project.
  • Develop Project Team: We need to develop our individual and group skills in order to enhance our overall team performance. We want to foster and improve the skills of each individual, but ultimately the goal here is to enhance team performance, thereby contributing to our overall project performance.
  • Manage Project Team: This process covers all of the necessary managerial activities necessary to ensuring project success, including tracking individual and team performance; providing feedback; as well as resolving issues and conflicts that may arise during the course of a project.

Functions and Roles of the Project Manager

Project managers are often asked to define what it is exactly that they do at their jobs and PMI has chosen to include clear definitions on the functions and roles of the project manager.

Functions performed by the Project Manager

The activities listed in Section 1.3 of the PMBOK, entitled ‘What is Project Management?’ are commonly performed by the project manager and listed below:

  • Identifying Requirements
  • Addressing the various needs, concerns, and expectations of the stakeholders as the project is planned and carried out.
  • Balancing the competing project constraints including, but not limited to Scope; Quality; Schedule; Budget; Resources and Risk.

Interface Management

This is defined as the process of identifying, documenting, scheduling, communicating and monitoring the personnel and the Organizational and system interfaces relating to the project.

System interfaces refers to the interfaces of the Organization. For example,  you might have to deal with the legal department within the Organization. You might also have to deal with the manufacturing group or the personnel group. Anytime the Project Manager goes outside of the project team and interacts with the support functions within an Organization then she is said to be interfacing with these various functions and she needs to be able to manage these relationships effectively in order to get the job done.

Our efforts are directed towards the integration of the project sub-systems of a project. PMI expects us to plan, lead, organize and control the project. The project sub-systems are all of the various and peripheral processes encountered within a project and can be thought of as what we need to plan, lead, organize and control throughout the project.

Roles of the Project Manager

A project manager wears many hats and performs multiple roles on a project. Some of the key roles performed by the project manager are listed below:

  • Integrator: The Project Manager is responsible for integrating the various aspects of the project into a consolidated end-result as defined by the key deliverables and requirements of the project. Integration involves coordinating all of the knowledge areas defined in the PMBOK into a concerted effort aimed at completing the project objectives.
  • Communicator: The Project Manager is also responsible for the process of facilitating the flow of information between the various elements of the project. Examples would include any communications between project team members and the functional components of the Organization or even the client Organization.
  • Team-leader: Leadership is the act of providing direction and guidance and this is one of the primary roles of the Project Manager.
  • Decision Maker: The Project Manager may typically be assigned the responsibility for making decisions relating to the multitude of issues that fall under the umbrella of the project management knowledge areas.
  • Climate-Creator / Climate-Builder: The Project Manager is responsible for setting the environment or the tone of the project on a regular basis. If the Project Manager walks into a meeting excited and motivated about the project, she will in turn set the tone of the meeting.

Qualifications of the Project Manager

PMI recommends specific skill sets and attributes that are desirable for the Project Manager.

  • Works well with others: This is one of the most important qualifications from PMI’s perspective. This concept of ‘works well with others’ is very similar to a comment that you would find in a child’s report card at a very young age.
  • Supervisory Experience: Supervisory Experience is beneficial to a Project Manager and bears particular relevance to the activity of leading and managing a team.
  • Technical Expertise: Depending on the specific technical area of the project, some technical expertise may be beneficial to the Project Manager.
  • Contract Administration Experience: Some experience in contract administration would be beneficial to the Project Manager. This ties in to the later section on Project Procurement Management.
  • Profit/Results Oriented: The Project Manager should be focused on achieving the goals and objectives of the project.
  • Skilled Negotiator: This refers not only to the context of contract negotiation but also to how skillfully a Project Manager can build the team and manage negotiations between various stakeholders throughout the project in order to enhance overall team performance.
  • Education and Experience Requirements: PMI has indicated that a college education would be desirable, but not required during the PMP application process. PMI also requires that the candidate have some project management experience. This can be project experience as a functional manager or even as the Project Manager’s assistant. PMI however prefers to see some management experience on an applicant’s profile. This is because PMI wants candidates to have prior experience managing people before they apply for the PMP certification.

Power of the Project Manager

PMI recognizes various forms of power that can be harnessed to resolve issues and drive a project towards the attainment of key objectives. You should be familiar with these various forms of power and how they can be appropriately used.

  • Legitimate Power: Legitimate Power refers to power that is derived from a person’s formal position within an organization and is best illustrated by their official job title or position. For example, the Vice President of Procurement within a company would hold a certain amount of power simply by virtue of her position.The title of Project Manager also holds a degree of legitimate power within an Organization, particularly if the position is formally acknowledged by the Project Sponsor in the Project Charter.
  • Coercive Power: Coercive Power is predicated on fear. There are moments within a project where this type of power must be exercised. For example, if you are dealing with an errant supplier who has to be brought back in line, threatening that supplier with contract claims and other penalties is a form of coercive power. As a general rule, PMI feels that a Project Manager should not go about threatening stakeholders and generally frowns on the practice of coercive power. However in certain circumstances, Coercive Power can be extremely effective. For the exam, remember that coercive power should only be used as a last resort.
  • Reward Power: Reward Power does not only refer to financial rewards. There are other instances where rewards can be given, such as rewarding a person for a job well done through a formal letter of commendation, or simply via a pat on the back. Reward Power is the practice of reinforcing good behavior. In most instances, this takes places as a form of encouragement of a job well done or acknowledging achievement. PMI cautions that Reward Power can be used to excessive limits. For the most part, reward power is based on our willingness to share rewards with our team members.
  • Expert Power: Expert Power refers to an individual’s treatment by other team members due to the exceptional quality of her work. Experts tend to possess the qualities of a person of sound mind and moral character and a very high degree of technical expertise. Expert Power exists when people value what an individual can bring to the table. The expert does not need to have a very impressive formal title, or be in charge of many people.Expert Power comes directly from the work performed in the past by this person plus the reputation that they have established over time.
  • Referent Power: Referent Power is based on the action of referring to the authority of a more powerful person as the basis for their own authority. From time to time, we have all run into individuals who use the authority of a superior to assign work to others. This type of power is short lived.
  • Purse-string Power: Purse-string power simply states that the person who controls the finances in a project will have authority over the project. This form of power lasts as long as there is money. Once the finances run out, then the power will no longer hold sway.
  • Bureaucratic Power: This pertains to a situation where the individual knows every aspect of the system and is able to utilize the system to enforce his or her authority. In many cases, an Executive Secretary to the President can be thought of as the gatekeeper and is in possession of bureaucratic power.
  • Charismatic Power: In this case, Charismatic Power refers to an individual who has the ability to draw and attract other people by virtue of an innate characteristic that they possess. Charisma does not always pertain to good looks. An individual who has the ability to listen and empathize with others can also possess great charisma.
  • Penalty Power: Penalty Power exists when an individual withholds things simply to get something done.
Exam Hint – PMI wants us to use Reward and Expert Power as much as possible. Also, most questions on Legitimate Power in the exam refer to an Organizational Chart. The project manager’s role is not commonly formally depicted in a position of formal authority.Most of the examples relating to formal authority would be titles like General Manger, Vice President, Director, CEO, CIO and CEO. All of the people within a company can be said to have formal authority simply by virtue of their title.

Project Conflict

Conflict is unavoidable from a Human Resource point of view and we must learn to deal with it. We need to understand why conflict is unavoidable. Projects are generally performed in high-stress environments, with deadlines and budgetary constraints  as well as an amalgamation of people who may have never worked with one another prior to the commencement of the project.

Another factor contributing to conflict is the ambiguity of roles that exist on a project. Team members generally have to figure out the roles and responsibilities of the various team members at the inception of the project. Good project management practice dictates that we always define the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager at the beginning of the project.

In matrix-type organizations, project team members tend to report to multiple bosses and this can be very stressful. We should also be aware that the introduction of new technology within a project also raises conflict. According to PMI, technology causes risk and scope creep and so there are numerous of technology-related conflicts when it comes to managing a project.

Sources of Conflict

Project conflict can arise from a variety of sources:

  • Priorities: Conflicts can arise from different priorities between team members in the group.
  • Administrative Procedures: Conflicts can arise between differences between project methodologies and organizational procedures in the same company.
  • Technical Procedures and Performance tradeoffs: A project team is often confronted with the question of whether performing a task one way is worth the amount of time or energy is required to do so.
  • Personnel: The Project Manager experiences conflict in deciding which members are going to join the team.
  • Costs: Conflicts can arise from the costs incurred during the project.
  • Schedules: Scheduling conflicts can arise when project team members are associated with more than one project and the project manager also has to juggle the amount of time he has been allocated for each project team member.
  • Personalities: PMI recognizes personality conflicts to be one of the most difficult sources of conflict arising in a project.

Managing Conflict

Since conflict is practically unavoidable, a project manager must be proficient in how to resolve situations of conflict. PMI acknowledges several strategies for conflict resolution:

  • Problem Solving and Confrontation: These two terms are used interchangeably from PMI’s perspective. Confronting means to approach a problem head on.
  • Compromising: This is the most favored approach to dealing with team conflict. The approach involves bargaining and coming up with a solution that benefits both parties. In essence, both parties will not win completely, but each side gets some satisfaction. The key here is that if a win-win situation cannot be found then getting both parties to gain something through mutual give-and-take is the next best thing. PMI believes that this is the second best form of Conflict Management after Problem Solving and Confrontation.
  • Smoothing: Smoothing de-emphasizes the opponent’s differences and tries to establish some sort of commonality over the issue in question. We do not focus on our differences but on what we have in common. Smoothing keeps the atmosphere friendly, but does not really address the root causes of the conflict. Smoothing will help to move both conflicting parties closer to the next level of resolution, which is problem solving and confrontation. The key here is that Smoothing can be thought of as a way to transition into problem solving and confrontation.
  • Withdrawal: This occurs where one or both parties back down from conflict and do not want to deal with the conflict. We can liken this action to the ostrich sticking its head underneath the ground, believing that since it cannot see its problems, the problems have vanished. PMI believes that this conflict management methodology does not solve anything and delays any possible outcome. However, Withdrawing can be used very effectively when conflict first occurs and there is a great deal of emotion in the room. Withdrawing allows parties to ‘cool down’ and also to indulge in rational thought before re-engaging.
  • Forcing: Forcing occurs when we try to exert out own viewpoint on our counterparts  This is where we are going into a win-lose situation, also known as a ‘Zero-sum game’ or distributive outcome. For one party to gain something, the other party must inevitably lose. In fact, mutual benefit is not a likely outcome when using forcing as a tactic to resolve issues. Using a forcing strategy to end conflict typically ends up with soured relations between parties.

Exam Hint – Questions involving Forcing strategies have been seen in past exams: If two parties use ‘forcing strategies’ to resolve conflict, what is the end result? The answer is that a stalemate occurs. In other words, the conflict will never be resolved. Using Forcing as a tactic will end up with one party getting hurt.

 

Sample Question– 

If the project manager is confronted with a customer that is extremely upset with him, what method should the Project Manager use to resolve the issue?

a. Confrontation
b. Compromising
c. Smoothing
d. Withdrawal
Answer: The Project Manager resolves this issue by using confrontation. The term confrontation here refers to problem solving and facing the problem. The goal here is to find a win-win solution.

 

Team Building

We want to utilize team building as a positive force in countering the negative aspects of conflict. PMI’s philosophy on team building relates largely to a concerted effort within the Organization. PMI wants the project manager to look for opportunities to build a team throughout the project.

There are many positive outcomes to team building:

  • Interdependence of Team Members: PMI believes that the team members should be able to depend and rely on one another. Team members should work together to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities and know how each role fits in to the overall scope of the project.
  • Common Consensus: The team should have consensus regarding the defined project goals and objectives.
  • Group Work Commitment: Team members should be committed to working together in order to achieve a common end goal or objective. The team members should not feel that they have been coerced into working together.
  • Accountable as a Functional Unit: Team members should understand that they are accountable as a functional unit within a larger Organization and they should understand the project’s role in achieving the Organization’s goals.
  • Acknowledgement of Conflict: Team members should be aware that conflict may arise during the project and that it should be managed in a fair and equitable manner.

Symptoms of Poor Performance

The project manager should be ever vigilant of conflicts that can arise during a project. There are some symptoms that a manager can look out for when it comes to detecting poor performance in a project.

  • Frustration
  • Unhealthy Competition
  • Unproductive meetings
  • Lack of Trust or Confidence in Project Management

Ground Rules for Team Building

PMI states that the fundamental ground rule for team building is to start early.  You cannot afford to skip team building early on in the project. There are many crucial elements especially in the early stages of the project such as tight deadlines and demanding customers that need to be managed; however team building has to be accounted for from the very beginning of the project as a crucial ingredient for project success.

One of the priorities when it comes to assembling the team is getting the best people for the team. PMI does not refer to the most technically skilled people for the job in this case. We are looking at the best complement of skill sets to give us the best possible outcome for the project as a whole. We want to make sure that all stakeholders working on the project recognize that they are a part of a team. A lot of project managers frequently leave out the part timers and vendors, much to the detriment of the project.

One way of identifying stakeholders is to draw a network diagram that we discussed in the section on Project Time Management. We can identify all of the stakeholders responsible for performing each task in the network diagram. These are the people that need to be included in the team and they need to feel that they are contributing to the success of the project and that they are part of the team.  For example if you have a project and five months into a project, you’re going to need the help of the legal people, then the legal department should be made aware of this need at the very beginning of the project and they should be kept informed of the project status. They should also agree that when the time comes for them to participate, they will buy-in to the project and perform the work that is required of them.

Team Building Mantras:

  • Role Model: It is very important for the project manager to act as a role model. PMI states that if a project manager wants team members to act in a certain way, then the project manager has to lead by example.
  • Delegation builds teams:  The best way to ensure commitment from team members is to delegate responsibility, and to entrust and empower the individual team member. It is important for the Project Manager to have confidence in the abilities of the team that she has chosen. You shouldn’t force or manipulate team members to achieve a desired outcome.
  • Evaluations: The project manager must always evaluate team performance regularly.

Team building process

The project manager must use every possible opportunity for team building. A team building process can occur at a meeting, part of a social gathering, or part of a project audit. We need to use a process to consistently build a team. We go through the following steps for every project that we are involved in.

  • We plan ahead for team building: We make sure that everybody is aware of their assigned roles and responsibilities.
  • We negotiate with our team members: We go out and try to get the best possible talent for the team.
  • We organize the team: We organize the team members, we let them know what their roles and responsibilities are.
  • We have our kickoff meeting: We hold a kickoff meeting to make sure that everyone knows who is who; and who is talking to whom and when.

Team Building Exercises

Project teams need team building exercises to get motivated. Any opportunity that the Project Manager sees to build the team must be taken. Getting the project team to buy into the project and commit to a desired outcome is important to the success of any project. One of the things that can be done in order to accomplish this is to use team-building exercises.

Motivational Theory

Motivational theories attempt to explain what it is that motivates people to perform well at their jobs, in other words, what makes them tick. For the exam, you are required to understand several motivational theories that are currently observed and adopted in the management world.

Mazlow’s Pyramid

Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs has been around since 1943. Essentially there are 5 levels of needs as defined in his Pyramid:

Mazlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highest level of need is self-actualization. Knowledge of the pyramid can be asked in the exams, for example, what is the highest level for which the project manager can use to motivate his team members? Self-actualization.

Macgregor

Macgregor established a model on how to categorize individuals in the workplace and how the varying types would interact with each other.

  • Theory X:  The classic Theory X employee is unmotivated and uninspired. Somebody who you have to kick to get moving.
    X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Theory Y: The classic Theory Y employee is somebody who is Gung-ho, excited and willing to get work done.
    Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Theory Z: This is an improvement over theory Y. If you put a supportive environment around a group of theory Y workers, then you can create even greater enhancements in performance. You can get theory y workers very excited by giving them a good solid environment to work in.

So what happens when you put a theory X manager together with a theory Y employee? You will have a lot of conflict. The theory Y worker will not accept poor treatment from the manager. In the case where a theory Y manager supervises a theory X worker, there will be relationship issues initially between the worker and the manager. Over time, the theory X worker will learn to welcome the new type of management style and possibly turn into a theory Y worker.

Theory X and Y are 2 extremes. The question to ask is where along the range of extremes does the Project Manager fall and where do the workers fall and how do they interact with one another; and how the Project Manager, depending on which theory type the team members belong to, can motivate the team to do a job.

Hertzberg

Hertzberg identified two sets of activities that satisfy a person’s needs. The first set of activities relates to job dissatisfaction and the second relate to job satisfaction .

  • Hygiene Factors: The activities that relate to job dissatisfaction are called hygiene factors. Examples would include pay and working conditions. Hertzberg’s theory states that a person requires sufficient pay and treatment as well as fairly decent working conditions to stay motivated. But paying this individual more and giving them better working conditions or a better supervisor does not necessarily motivate the individual any further.
  • Motivators: Most workers require a minimal level of hygiene factors in order to be able to work productively but in order to get energized, we need motivators, which are factors relating to job satisfaction. Motivators could be greater freedom on the job, or greater responsibility or even more recognition on the job.

Hygiene factors relate to job dissatisfaction and motivators relate to job satisfaction. The application of this knowledge is to find ways to retain and motivate team members. Your team members need to have their hygiene factors, but to really get your team members juiced up, you need to think of motivators.

Expectancy theory

Expectancy theory states that people will tend to be highly productive and motivated if the following two conditions are satisfied.

  • People believe that their efforts will likely lead to successful results.
  • People believe that they will be rewarded for their success.

In other words, if a person believes that a project will succeed then they are going to have an optimistic outlook and this will lead to better results.

Personnel benefits

Benefits a non-pay component of an employee’s salary and can be used to encourage productive behavior

  • Fringe benefits: These are the benefits that all employees in the same company receive. Things such as training, profit sharing and medical benefits that are over and above pay.
  • Perquisites: Also known as perks, common examples can be a company allowing you to work at home for a few days a week, or giving you that office in the corner that you always desired. Anything that the company feels is going to keep you motivated. Perks tend to be a lot more individualized than fringe benefits. Fringe benefits are generally given across the Organization to employees.

HR Roles and Responsibilities

Beyond the role of managing hiring for an Organization, HR performs a number of crucial functions. For example, training;  career planning and team building count as HR functions and have a direct impact on project team member performance. We look towards HR to fulfill these needs for our teams.

Summary:  Project Human Resource Management.

  • Develop Human Resource Plan
  • Acquire Project Team
  • Develop Project Team
  • Manage Project Team

Conclusion

In this section, we looked into the importance of team building, the need to motivate and encourage team members, roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager and ways to effectively deal with conflict.

In the next section, we will cover Project Communications Management

Thanks for sticking with me so far, and thanks for the comments and likes. They’ve been very encouraging!

Ook. Chimp out.

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