Dateline: June 18, 2014
by Anurag Sharma
Lee Iacocca adequately summarized the importance of people when he said “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”
Project management theories put forward by management gurus in the 20th century are derived from the manufacturing industry and focus more on schedule, time, and material than on the ‘people’ factor.
The Software industry is a knowledge industry. Projects are becoming more complex and challenging with new technologies, languages, and tools coming into the market every day. New development processes like agile and XP are being adopted by more and more organizations. Niche skills are in high demand and companies are realizing that talented and motivated employees bring the highest competitive advantage. Human resources teams are spending a lot of money on hiring and retaining the right talent as well as on training and development of people. As a Manager, the most important skill/challenge is to keep employees motivated and to bring out the best in them.
Managers must modulate their people management approach and consider the dynamics of their team. For example, consider a project that is to produce a new and innovative product with a development team that consists of newly hired graduates (or less experienced people). In this case, the manager should expect some initial failures and focus his energy towards motivating the people and channeling their energy in the right direction. Most web startups fall in this category. However, if the team consists of experienced people, such as self organizing agile teams, the manager can and should delegate decision making to the team. The role of manager becomes that of a participant and a silent observer. Similarly, in an enhancement or sustaining project, the employees tend to get bored of repetitive tasks, which changes the manager’s primary objective into making tasks challenging and keeping employees happy with perks and benefits. At times, he may have to run the factory using an autocratic and directive approach to meet milestones and deliverables.
The people management approach is also affected by power decentralization in the team. For example, one or two people in the team can be critical to the success of the project due to their experience or previous working knowledge of the project. These workers may disrupt the harmonious nature of the group. The manager has to ensure that the other members of the team get recognized and valued. On the other hand, in a more homogeneous team, the manager’s role is to empower the team and drive them towards the goal.
Any manager’s people management skills are best tested during performance reviews. A manager should evaluate the individual contribution of each employee, praise the good results and reinforce the improvement areas. At the same time, he should also be able to handle any confrontation in a diplomatic manner.
It would not be incorrect to say that, the People Managers are more successful than the Project managers.
Anurag Sharma is a testing and quality professional with more than 8 years of experience in breaking software in embedded and security domains. He is interested in Software Testing, Internet 3.0, advances in the mobile world and applications, Internet of Things, Minimalism, and Project Management. He also likes to participate in interesting discussions around technology.
LinkedIn, Twitter @AnuragS1984, email