There are many effective ways of how managers can achieve success in different projects. They can rely on the current technological progress, follow the theoretical basics offered during an educational process, or consider the opinions of the experts to make the appropriate decisions. However, one of the biggest mistakes made by researchers and managers concerning the successful development of project management is the ignorance of such a crucial factor as personal skills. From a philosophical point of view, project management is a kind of art within the frames of which it is possible to create an illusion with the outcomes as the results of predetermined acts (Kerzner, 2013). Each person can have a different understanding of project management depending on the way of how a project itself is identified and the abilities of a person are chosen. In other words, it is wrong and inappropriate to neglect the importance of personal skills in project management because these skills help to realize the essence of the process.
Project management is the combination of disciplines and practices with the help of which various strategic goals and values can be achieved by people (Too & Weaver, 2014). The current paper aims at understanding a true value of people skills in project management such as communication, listening, motivation, leadership, decision-making, negotiation, etc. and explaining why all these people skills are crucial in the sphere of project management and the current project (the production of T-shirts), in particular.
Trends in Project Management
One of the important steps that any project manager should take is to identify the current trends and make the solutions that can help to improve the chosen project. People skills depend on the current trends considerably, and the trends define the qualities people should possess. It is not enough to be good at communicating, negotiating, or listening (Flannes & Levin, 2005). It is more important to know how to implement all these skills in regards to the trends that are available. For example, nowadays, it is popular to promote mobile collaboration, set lofty expectations, and stay agile to be successful in project management.
The identification of trends should help to understand how to behave and what to tell while managing a project. However, it happens that a person knows nothing about the actual responsibilities of a project manager and neglects the necessity to understand the difference between the functions of a project manager as a leader, manager, facilitator, and mentor. Kerzner (2013) admits that sophisticated people skills should help people deal with various organizational conflicts, powers, and politics. In the process of managing a project, a manager should decide which skills (personal or task) should be utilized. Still, it is necessary to remember that people skills can help to manage task skills at any time (Unger, Gemunden, & Aubry, 2012). As soon as managers identify their talents and skills, they are able to comprehend the assignment (Heldman, 2011).
Increased Project Complexity
The concept of project complexity varies in different companies. For example, one organization aims at developing special programs and codes for PCs, and another company works in the sphere of nursing. The creation of a special program that helps to code information about patients can become a complex task for the second organization but an easy type of form for the first organization. This project requires the development of different people skills from different companies.
As soon as a leader of the project identifies the level of complexity, the appropriate ways should be chosen to work on it. There are two factors that have to be considered by project managers, who want to know what people skills they need to develop:
Complexity is the concept that does not disappear but only increases with time
It means that project managers should possess such skills like motivation, communication, influencing, and decision making to cope with the challenges that can take place. The production of T-shirts for graduate students is a new apparel line offered to people. The main challenge or complexity is the necessity to prove that the offered product is worth buying. With time, it is necessary to prove that the same product is not only worth buying but also is better than other options and of high quality.
The level of complexity and the ability to deal with it defines the competitive advantage of a project
It means that different projects have different levels of complexity. It is necessary for a project manager to identify the methods that are more appropriate for a project (Maddalena, 2012). This factor explains that such people skills like decision making, negotiating, and influencing are also important for a project manager. Managers should not only have them but be able to develop them in regards to the current situation.
Continual Outsourcing and Downsizing
Nowadays, downsizing and outsourcing are ways of life. Project managers should be competent enough and have a good portion of knowledge to provide their employees with the necessary explanations and work. It is necessary to enhance people’s skills and competencies to stay in demand by different organizations (Flannes & Levin, 2005). As soon as outsourcing takes place in a company, the manager should identify the skills to establish a team of people rapidly in order to meet the challenges and stay competitive. Motivation is probably the most crucial skill that should be developed because, if people are motivated, they are able to complete the tasks of various complexities.
Matrix Structure in Project Management
There are many organizations that find it appropriate to use some forms of matrix management, starting from the weak examples and achieving the strongest forms. A matrix management structure is one of the frequently used organizational structures with several lines developed in it. In comparison to the ordinary hierarchies preferable by many organizations, matrix management is a good opportunity for a manager to share responsibilities between a product manager and a functional manager (Flannes & Levin, 2005).
As a rule, in regards to this particular structure, a functional manager has more authority among the staff in comparison to the level of authority of the project manager (Kerzner, 2013). Besides, functional managers should evaluate the work done by a team and analyze the results achieved to make the whole project better. Project managers are not able to promote changes on their own. They have to discuss all points with functional managers. Such necessity requires the development of negotiating and influencing people skills.
The main advantages of leading in a matrix management structure are the possibility to use resources efficiently, coordinate products and different projects across different departments, and make employees stay in contact with each other to share information within a short period of time. The current project is not huge; that is why the development of a matrix management structure is not crucial. It is enough to create a hierarchy and divide the duties in accordance with the skills and knowledge gained.
Internal and External Situations of the Current Project
The production of T-shirts with the “Senior 2016” label on it is not a too complicated project to be developed. If a team of professionals starts working on this project, it is possible to create it in one week. However, the business beginners may face a number of internal and external situations that can make this project more complex with regards to incorporating people skills. A project manager should be theoretically prepared for this kind of work. In other words, it is necessary to know what skills are crucial for managing a project and when each skill should be implemented.
For example, one of the first stages of the project is to gather a team. A project manager should possess strong communicative and influential skills to make people believe in the success of the work offered. T-shirt production is not a new kind of work. There are many examples of the challenges that can be expected and the benefits that can make this project priceless. A project manager needs to introduce all these aspects of the work and demonstrate his/her best personal skills that assure people that this project is worth recognition.
In general, the development of people skills in project manager is crucial because it helps to understand when, why, and what should be offered to create a better project with fewer costs spent on it.
Flannes, S. & Levin, G. (2005). Essential people skills for project managers. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts.
Heldman, K. (2011). Project management jumpstart. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Kerzner, H. (2013). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. New York City, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Maddalena, V. (2012). A primer on project management: The cornerstone of strategic leadership. Leadership in Health Services, 25(2), 80-89.
Too, E.G. & Weaver, P. (2014). The management of project management: A conceptual framework for project governance. International Journal of Project Management, 32(8), 1382-1394.
Unger, B. N., Gemünden, H. G., & Aubry, M. (2012). The three roles of a project portfolio management office: Their impact on portfolio management execution and success. International Journal of Project Management, 30(5), 608-620.