“Management based on values”. How to take care of participants in projects. Role of leadership

Project management is something more than just managing the tasks to achieve the goals in time and to the agreed quality

Project management

Projects are often derailed, with delays and exceeded budget as a consequence, because of misaligned expectations, interpersonal conflicts, or lack of motivation. The human element in projects, as in most other organizational activities, cannot be underestimated. Projects are created by people and for people – and not by procedures, technologies, etc. Often, we are so focused on goals, KPI’s, methods, tasks, delegation and reports, that we forget about people engaged in projects.

Some leaders may say that task management is sufficient to manage a project efficiently, but it’s not. Project management practise shows that success in projects depends on three main areas:

  • methods we choose to run the project,
  • technology and procedures we need to achieve project goals,
  • people.

More than 70% of the project’s success rests on the human factor – people. Unfortunately, most of the project managers are so focused on their daily management tasks, that they forget about the leadership role, and about the influence they have on the team. The practice shows that to achieve goals and build strong and effective teams, the project manager should not only be a manager, he should also be a leader, but what does it mean – especially in projects?

Effective leadership should be based on two dimensions: purpose and values. People are driven by the purpose of the project, and ultimately by the purpose of the company. The purpose is not only about the objective and the goals, it’s more importantly about the reason – the WHY? If people know and agree on the WHY, they are likely to be highly committed and engaged contributors to the project. The search for purpose and values is one of the elementary needs. Perhaps more important than ever? Considered the uncertain world we live in and the needs of the new generations. Purpose provide us with the answer – why do this, not that. And the purpose needs to be beyond the traditional purpose of making money. People need to feel part of something greater than what adheres to the WHAT but need to a part of the WHY.

Whereas the purpose answers the question of “why this and not that”, the values help people in decision making moments, especially in moments of doubts or crises during the project. One can see values as a sort of codex, or guiding lines to what is the “right” thing to do. Especially, when it comes to collaboration and teamwork.

But what values are needed? A good example of such a “codex” is The 9 Noble Virtues from Nordic Leadership: Courage, Truth/Trust, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness, Perseverance. All of them are needed and important in management. And they work together in a well-balanced system. But some of them are perhaps more relevant in team management than others. If we want to build long-lasting and effective teams, we should work further on introducing values and make leaders and teams aware of the importance of the values in their daily activities.

Which values are most relevant, especially in project management? It’s difficult to say. But forced to choose, let’s say 3 of them, it would be: Trust, Discipline and Industriousness. Trust, because without it we can’t work together and rely on each other. Discipline, because without discipline we will lack focus and can’t expect to deliver on-time. Industriousness, because without it, we won’t stay curious, but just stay on the beaten track, and we won’t get things done.

Working with intercultural teams, we have to take into consideration that intercultural differences also occurs in interpretation of the values, and especially how relevant and obvious some of them are. Which is why the discussions and agreement about shared values in the project team is even more important when working with intercultural teams.

Author: Ewa Ginalska, project manager, certified trainer and professional management consultant.

Ewa specializes in the issues of: management systems, leadership, image, project management, including work with demanding teams, has over 15 years of managerial experience as QMS/IMS Proxy, Quality Manager, NDT Laboratory Manager, HR Manager, New Business Manager. In 2017-2018 as a project manager she run a standardisation project for one of the biggest food producer worldwide. From 2017 – 2018 a vice-president of the Association of Management Consultants and Trainers MATRIK, responsible for sales and promotion. Leader to establish The Code of Professional Conduct for management consultants. She is furthermore an author of many publications on the subjects of consultancy, management systems and leadership and a university lecturer and tutor for graduates.

An article prepared as part of the ProBio Małopolska project