Project Practitioners > Managing People in Projects

Managing People in Projects

By Randy Englund

"Experience is knowledge, everything else is just information" A. Einstein

Managing People in Projects goes far beyond controlling the constraints of time, quality and cost but also requires managing the less tangible aspects that make up a project-influencing stakeholders, negotiating the middle ground to achieve win-win scenarios, resolving conflicts, and aligning decisions to the strategic imperatives of the business. There are no hard and fast rules to managing people aspects.

Experience is an effective means to get better at managing people, but sometimes the bitter outcomes create long-lasting negative overtones. We know the source for developing good judgment often derives from bad judgment which comes from making bad decisions. But can we afford that path as our only learning process?

There is an alternative. Simulations are an effective means to practice decision-making under difficult situations but doing so within a safe environment. In other words, the outcomes don’t count, but the learning is invaluable.

Imagine an environment where teams of strangers form, get presented with challenges, discuss each scenario, and decide how best to proceed. Choices have ramifications on later events during the simulation. Team members receive written feedback on each of the choices made and how they may have been improved, in an authentic, engaging context. More discussions explore alternative responses that could be applied. The lifelike simulation focus is on achieving real behavioral change through rich scenarios and consequential based learning.

Experience the opportunity to manage and deliver a project in a totally risk-free setting. Any errors made don't end up in one of those discussions you would rather not have to have with the sponsor or key stakeholders!

This is the stage for a PMI seminar. The lessons learned in the computer-based simulation are extremely powerful as they are based on extensive global research and practical experience. Participants interact and practice with each other in a team setting and are exposed to workable and practical skills and solutions that are readily implemented when back at organizations and working with people.

I thoroughly enjoy facilitating these seminars because I get to observe teams in action. I watch them grope their way through one thing after another. Every so often I see the lone person swing over the dissenters who finally come up with the “preferred” answer. It is amazing to witness both effective and not so effective techniques at work. I also marvel at how often team members under pressure forget to follow consistent approaches, perhaps because they did not establish priorities initially or they lacked the skills to address the pressures they experience. Anyone involved within project teams or responsible for running a project team who wants to better understand the people and essential skills involved in project management can benefit from this experience.


Join Randy Englund and Alfonso Bucero in Las Vegas September 14-15an exciting opportunity to catch these dynamic presenters in action and participate in a computer simulation about Managing People in Projects during PMI SeminarsWorld. Experience “people” challenges throughout a complete project life cycle; practice decision-making and team collaboration; get feedback; and share best practices. Use promo code RE09 to receive a 20% discount on registration.


Randy Englund

Englund Project Management Consultancy

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

To effectively manage people in projects, you need to be aware of what they're tasked with and the size of their workload. "Bitter outcomes" can arise from management overloading a resource already tasked with high-priority work. Our own Web based project management system, TrackerSuite.Net (http://www.TrackerSuite.Net) provides resource availability views that show employee workloads, and allow users to drill down for information on specific tasks and the time alloted for them.

Yes, the nature of tasks need to match skillsets, and the workload volume impacts people's abilities to get jobs done. People also need the Leadership to get them pointed in the right direction, the Learning to know how to do tasks, the Means to get tasks done, and the Motivation to engage in putting their best work into the project.

"Bitter outcomes" arise when the 2 Ls and 2 Ms just mentioned are not all present in abundance. Project leaders have a challenging job to attend to these, as well as apply tools to track resource availability such as you mention, Joe. But those of us who love this profession know that these challenges are what we equip ourselves to address.

Randy Englund
Englund Project Management Consultancy.

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