The Human Side of Projects: How to Avoid Becoming a Robot Project Manager

Every project has two sides: the technical side and the human side. The technical side has to do with resources, equipment, and even suppliers. These are needed in order to effectively complete a project. There is also the “human” side. The “human” side relates to human intelligence, which is also needed to complete a project, and working within a project team.

But this begs the question: Are projects really humans? The human side of a project also pertains to working with, well, humans. This essentially means taking communication, emotions, and intelligence levels into consideration when managing a project. Doing so will help a project manager avoid becoming a robot.

Entrepreneurs and projects require human leadership. In the world of business, there’s the “business” side and the “people” side, similar to what we just outlined above. Sure, business is about maintaining a certain level of professionalism, and a certain demeanor. However, underneath it all, project teams are made of people—with true emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Therefore, leaders also need to be human.

On the other hand, people are, well, people, and negative and tense emotions can become factors, and even risks, when managing a project. So when your team is impossible to work with, what do you do?

The 4 Stages of Team Development

 

One way to effectively manage a team of people and talent involves incorporating and recognizing the four stages of team development. These stages include:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

Each stage in project and team development involves the various steps that are taken as a team becomes acclimated with one another, learn to solve problems, work together, and overcoming the initial, awkward emotions of meeting or working within new team settings and dynamics. As the stages unfold and move through the cycle, productivity increases.

Effective Communication and Listening

 

Another way project managers can avoid becoming robots and really speaking, listening, and representing oneself as a true person is by practicing effective and active listening and questioning. By practicing active listening, a project manager is truly able to listen to how a team member feels, sets aside any personal emotions and thoughts, and really hones in on what a team member is saying.

Effective listening and communication also involves a certain body language that also sets the tone for any conversation. While we might not solely pay attention to how we carry ourselves, it is truly important to pay attention to how we conduct our body language—how we sit at our desks, engaging in eye contact, and even where we put our feet or cross our legs—and how this really plays a role in what we say and how we listen.

Project managers might not initially think about working with the “human” side of a team, but it is equally as important as managing and organizing the project itself. Depending on the industry, projects can be highly technical, especially in the construction, engineering, and architecture industries, just to name a few. However, no project can be successful without a certain level of human intelligence. And with human intelligence comes a human; a person that wants to be treated like a person.

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