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Behavioral Aspects of Project Management

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Essay title: Behavioral Aspects of Project Management

Behavioral Aspects of Project Management

The purpose of this paper is to explore how organizational culture and human behavior influence the success of projects, in particular projects beset with issues. This paper will first answer how organizational culture influences the selection, sponsorship, prioritization, and ultimate success of projects. Secondly, answer the question of what role the project leadership plays in the success of projects and how a project manager can build and manage a successful project team. Finally, the paper will offer some strategies that could be used by a project manager to successfully manage the relationships among project team members and the relationships among the project team and external resources.

Organizational culture influences the selection, sponsorship, prioritization, and ultimate success of a project by establishing the standards for what an organization is to accomplish. Gray and Larson (2005) have identified 10 cultural dimensions of an organization which form an environment that is beneficial to carry out most complex projects which engage employees from various disciplines (p.77). The cultural dimensions include the following: 1. member identity, 2. team emphasis, 3. people focus, 4. unit integration, 5. control, 6. risk tolerance, 7. reward criteria, 8. conflict tolerance, 9. means-end orientation, 10. open-system focus. These characteristics determine the success or failure of a project within an organization. Each organization’s culture is used to develop strategies and solutions that are more likely to be understood and accepted. In this manner, the organization’s culture avoids violating key norms that would otherwise jeopardize the effectiveness of the strategies and solutions within the organization.

An organization’s culture can create conditions that could lead to a project falling behind schedule, over budget, key team members resigning in disgust, and plummeting morale of the remaining team as these team members fear extra work without compensation. In order for an organization to avoid the above situation from happening, the following checklist should be consulted: engage sponsors, the project manager, and the team; timely communicate the risks and the risk strategies; ensure management is available for help with project management deliverables; provide formal training, mentoring and coaching in order to develop project managers’ skill sets; offer rewards for successfully managed projects; and define a project’s success at the organizational level. When an organization actively supports project management, the odds of its success will be greatly increased. Every organization performs projects; however, the most successful projects adopt a formal project management process which incorporates the organization’s culture. For example, Moneygram International’s senior leadership team initially focused the organization’s goals with a sales perspective. The sales representatives ran the organization and what sales wanted, sales received to the dismay of the operations department. This resulted in unstable and unpredictable employee behavior which resulted in an ineffective organization. As a result, MoneyGram’s employees were unable to legitimize the management system as well as identify with the organization in order to feel as if he or she were vital assets. Additional results included a decrease in operational employee morale as well as an increase in the operation’s employee turnover rate. MoneyGram’s senior leadership team soon recognized the negative impact this type of culture was having on its operational team members and on servicing its agents and shortly revised its sales approach. The success of a project is only as strong as the leadership provided. Leaders set the direction, motivate, and align employees. The top 10 key project leader skills include the following: 1. developing a grand vision, 2. building the project management team and leading the team through the steps of the project management process, 3. leadership skills; leading the project team through the stages of team development, 4. communication skills; verbal, both one-on-one and with a group, and written, 5. people-management skill such as constructive feedback, conflict resolution, managing individual styles and personalities, 6. facilitation skills, 7. skills at interfacing across the organization and removing obstacles for the team, 8. ability to accept criticism, feedback, and input from others, 9. skills in using team-based tools such as brainstorming, organizing, decision-making, project management, conflict resolution, and so on, 10. selling skills; the ability to promote and sell the project both within and outside the organization which includes presentation skills (Kotelnikov, 2007).

Project leadership involves dealing with change. “Leadership involves recognizing

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