With the Agile methodologies gaining momentum, there is a lot of talk about process. How projects should be managed, how to implement methodologies in an organization, which method is best to achieve project goals on time and on budget.

But what is project management  really about? Is it about processes and forms and reports?

It’s all about humans

Project management is about a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a house, a piece of software or a book. None of it can happen if the humans don’t work together.

The best processes can be thwarted by a key team member who suddenly becomes unavailable for the project or a project manager who leads like a dictator. The best project management methodology will fail unless we convince the team to accept it.

Five things to remember about humans

  1. Humans have feelings. We may not always show it, but we are driven by emotion. It’s important to take your team’s reaction into account when choosing how to present a decision.
  2. Humans like to feel good about themselves. This is a classic: praise in public, criticize in private. When we feel good about ourselves, we are happier, more productive and more willing to go the extra mile for the project.
  3. Humans need to feel useful. We don’t like to feel left out of the big activities, at work or in our personal lives. Make sure to distribute the high visibility work evenly in your team, as much as possible.
  4. Humans need to have purpose. Even if it may seem obvious to the project manager, the goal of an activity may not be clear to all team members. Taking the time to explain our decisions helps the team feel that they have a comprehensive view of the project.
  5. Humans don’t like to be wrong. Even when we know we’re wrong, we hate to admit it. A little diplomacy will go a long way to keep your team members happy and proud of their work.

What about you?

How do you manage the human factor in your projects?