All project managers know the joke about the PM, the software engineer and the hardware engineer who stumble across a lamp from which emerges a genie to grant them each a wish. The software engineer asks to be sent to a beach in Hawaii – Puff! – he’s gone in a plume of jasmine scented smoke. The hardware engineer asks to be sent skiing in the Alps – Puff! – he too disappears in a plume of jasmine scented smoke. The PM considers the situation and says to the genie “I want them both back after lunch”!

But hidden in that old joke is a truth that cannot be denied: good PMs are inherently focused, driven individuals who like to get the bit between their teeth and keep going, resentful of anything or anyone that obstructs their progress.

So, as January comes to an end, why not make just one more resolution for this year: let’s put humanity back into project management. You may not find consideration listed in PMBOK’s ten knowledge areas but maybe it should be because at the end of the day people make projects happen.

Quite simply, if you’re a jerk that refuses to take into account the cultural and lifestyle needs, beliefs and expectations of your team (especially in a country as diverse as South Africa) you’re likely to find yourself with a stressed team and regular over-runs on your projects.

This year why not make time for regular coffee and muffin sessions with your team, get to know what really makes them tick and you’ll soon see how to get the best out of them. These sessions are not only about the personal side of project management, they are also a great opportunity to realign project objectives and strategies, learn about risks and set goals.

Years ago someone told me a simple marketing truth that I’ve never forgotten: people do business with people they like. This could just as easily translate into: people work harder for people they like. So, this year, make time to get to know your team better, be responsive to their needs and show them that you recognise them as human beingsnot just resources – and I guarantee that you’ll soon be reaping the benefits.

© Tony Mc Manus,McManus Consulting.

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