Let's Play Freud
There are some great management theories that can help a project manager understand what makes his project team members tick. There are big, fat books written on each of these theories, so I won't go into great detail here. (Aw, shucks.) Some of these theories may help you identify what a project team member or manager is thinking—and then you can use that to your advantage to move the project forward.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Oh come on. Who cares about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Is this on a test or something? Blah, blah, blah. I'm sure we've all heard about Maslow and his theories about why we all work. Oh, sorry, there's some guy from Sheboygen that hasn't. Let me fill him in.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, as shown in Figure 3, describes why we work. Here's the scoop, Sheboygen, from bottom-up.
- Physiological. We all need some air, food, beer, clothing, and shelter. Work helps us get the basics.
- Safety. We need a job to provide a place to sleep, keep our stuff, and raise our families. We also need some safety in our job—think OSHA, job security, stability, and so on.
- Social Interaction. Hey, work is fun! We all need some social interaction and companionship.
- Esteem. Ever feel proud of a job well done? We want and need esteem, respect, and admiration in our work.
- Self-actualization. Ah, the pinnacle of why we work. Self-actualization is when you've found your calling and purpose in life. You find that you're contributing to the world.
Herzberg's Theory of Motivation
Freddy Herzberg determined that there are two agents that affect us all when it comes to work: hygiene agents and motivating agents. Hygiene agents aren't soap and deodorant, by the way. Hygiene agents are the things we expect when we take a job: a paycheck, vacation, health insurance, and free coffee. The presence of hygiene agents won't motivate, but their absence will demotivate.
Motivating agents are the things that excite us to excel: bonuses, education, career advancement, and opportunity. If we know what motivates employees then we can help them get what they want—while still getting what we want as project managers.
McGregor's Theory of X and Y
This one is pretty easy to imagine, as it describes a typical management opinion of workers. Basically, X Managers see their employees as lazy, incompetents who need to be micromanaged and pushed to accomplish. Y Managers are the opposite; they see their people as self-led, hard workers who are both motivated and excited.
This theory makes the most sense to me. The Expectancy Theory states that people behave based on what they believe their behavior will bring them. Have kids? I bet they act differently around you than they do around grandma. It's the same thing with your project team members. If they believe you can reward or punish them they'll act accordingly.
This won't be a shock to most of you: human resource management is the most difficult part of project management. Do you ever wonder why, oh why, won't the project team just do what's been asked of them? Do you ever wonder why management won't give you more power to help the project team get the project done? Or why you can't have all the resources you need to get this project done?
I bet you have. I bet you've asked countless other questions related to human resources. It's a tough business and whether we like it or not our project team, our workers, and our colleagues look to us for two things: leadership and management.
Management is concerned with getting the job done. Leadership is concerned with motivating, aligning, and directing people. All the above info is accurate, interesting, and great for any MBA class, but to apply it, well, that takes experience and talent. No jokes here.
I believe, and I bet you'd agree, that you cannot be an effective project manager without leadership and management skills. It's your job to lead, direct, and motivate your project team to deliver on the promises the project scope has made. Is it easy? Heck no. If it were easy, everyone would do it.