Within the confines of this report we will investigate the 6 keys headline statements in delivering the finding. These are the project plan, risk assessment, creative thinking, and team working and conflict, political behaviour, ending with formal recommendations. The principal argument will look at the functionality of project management and the delicate balancing
act of the different element that would bring a successful outcome or possibly result in failure.
1. Project Planning
What is a project?
A project is a programme of activities that have a beginning and end. Projects are generally used to instigate change, improvements or developments. This statement is underpinned by PMI ‘a project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to produces a product, service or result. (Project Management Institute 2008).
What is Project Management?
Project management is defined by, ‘initiating processes – clarifying the business need; planning processes – detailing the project scope; executing processes – establishing and managing the project team; monitoring and controlling processes – tracking performance and taking actions; closing processes – ending all project activity’ (Portny 2012)
What is a project Managers?
‘The project manager’s job is challenging – her success requires a keen ability to identify and resolve sensitive organisational and interpersonal issues.’ (Portny 2012: 21). As one of the principle stakeholders in the project their responsibility is reliant on developing good team dynamics and delegate correctly through a well organised project plan.
The project Plan endorses these statements and clarifies the unique role of the manager, understanding of the project and the application of the management process and is cited in appendix 1.
2. Risk Assessment
When dealing with human being it is inevitable that risk factors will arise due to different values, perceptions and behaviours leading to an adverse
impact on the success of the project. ‘All projects can be affected by outside or inside risk. Planning what possible risks might affect a project and the likelihood of those risk occurring is vital to the success of the project’. (Horn 2012:414)
With project control and clear project planning, many identifiable risks during the project can be minimised or averted. In order to identify these risks a Risk Breakdown Structure can use used (RiBS), to ensure that risk is managed appropriate and effectively. Derived from the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), this chart calculates the impact and probability of various risks associated with the project and then provides methods of contingency to reduce or eliminate the risk. ‘Impact is used in the calculation of the risk factor and is the effect on the project if the risk occurs. Probability is used in the calculation of the risk factor and is the likelihood of the risk occurring’. (Horn 2012:414)
Two key areas of risk highlighted in the project are;
Scope Creep – where the predetermined scope of the project escalates and the project evolves in size or cost due to a range of changing variables, such as stakeholder and client changes and unforeseen circumstances due to environment, finance or politics. It is in this area that risk levels can be high. ‘Scope creep is a major cause of project failure’ (Horn 2012:405)
Scope creep is most likely to happen in the area of team recruitment and development, the most costly part of the project, where any changes in specification may require more staff or specialist staff. Any expansion in the project of this type would be costly for the project. This is confirmed by Horn (2012:406) that ‘when you consider that only about a quarter of projects complete on time and budget’. Early contingencies planning for the effects of scope creep should be interlaid within the RiBS to manage any financial allowance for such eventuality and to communicate the changes across the project and organisation.
Roles and responsibilities – It is possible that during the project development some staff may have difficulty in defining their roles within the team or were not part of the role development process that takes place during the forming stage of Tuckman’s team development model. It is also likely within the project team to have duplication of roles/function, even though Belbin’s Team roles model may have been used. However it is not a pre-requisite that all team must have the nine roles specific by Belbin. ‘Team members can take on more than one role and some roles are not necessary in certain teams’. (Horn 2009:13)
Through team meetings and project control, risk associated with roles and responsibilities could be quickly identified. One through work duplication if one or more staff are performing the same task and two through inaccurate, incomplete or delayed work. Left unmanaged they may lead to long term delay and added cost as well as team dysfunction as political behaviours evolved. To resolve these risks, clarity of roles may need to be re-established and a more robust command and control; day to day supervision of roles and task be implemented. Re-evaluation of Tuckman’s forming stages may identify the need for further direct involvement of the project manger, to remind the team of the non-negotiable behaviours expected. ‘Insufficient day-to-day supervision of work is still the largest single reason for lost productivity.’ (Mullins 2005:833)
3. Creative Thinking
The aspect of the project that best fits a creative approach is how the project recruits applicants into the organisation. This fits the requirements made by the CEO that they’re looking for a higher calibre of employees that are able to engage with the workforce. This will require a different approach and a move away from traditional routes.
‘Everyone can be a creative thinker; it is a state of mind and a set of skills’. (Horn 2012: 159). To encourage a more creative approach in the team, models such as Mind Mapping, blind, negative and positive brainstorming (Horn 2012:156) would be use in the team on a regular basis. This would work towards promoting open discussion, through using tool that draw on right side brain activity that stimulate creativity and to develop an environment where people feel comfortable to contribute ideas and solutions to problems. ‘So using the right side of the brain we tend to draw things as they are rather than as we know them to be. It represents innocence which plays a role in creativity, particularly artistic expression’. (De Bono 1985)
Paramount to this approach working is a project team of engaged staff that have aligned values to the organisations, where there are shared interests, common causes and an environment built on trust and integrity. ‘The approach is also about celebrating diversity, placing compassion and flexibility at the heart of everything the council does, accepting risk and listening and trusting people to try new and innovative ways of working.’ (David Macleod 2000:56)
Alongside these creative mechanisms to support a creative space (De Bono’s 1985) established Six Thinking Hats Model. This method allows everyone to contribute, explore ideas, solve problems and generate creativity without denting egos. This create a non-judgemental environment as a particularly type of thinking is applied to a subject, rather than a personal opinion, allowing free speech and opportunity to explore without feeling defensive. This additional model would be implemented throughout the whole process of the project; for 1-1, team meeting, casual meeting and encouraged in general conversations where it would help resolve problems quickly by removing and instil creativity. In De Bono’s words, ‘the six hats system encourages performance rather than ego defense. People can contribute under any hat even though they initially support the opposite view’. (Burns 2011:17) The key point is that a hat is a direction to think rather than a label for thinking. The six hats describe six separate thinking functions as follows;
White Hat thinking
This covers facts, figures, information needs and gaps.
Red Hat thinking
This covers intuition, feelings and emotions.
Black Hat thinking
This is the hat of judgment and caution
Yellow Hat thinking
This is the logical positive.
Green Hat thinking
This is the hat of creativity, alternatives and proposals.
Blue Hat thinking
This is the overview or process control hat.
4. Team Work / Conflict
The fundamental ingredient of a team is full and willing participation by each member of the team in whatever task the group faces. The level of participation is perhaps the single most important factor affecting the team’s output. It is only when a group is fully functioning and performing at the optimum level that it can call itself a team. ‘Building successful teams also requires effective leadership with an emphasis on trust, clear communications, full participation and self-management.’ (Mullins 2005:568)
The first approach in developing good team work is to establish the different roles individual align themselves to in a team. Understanding and valuing the diversity of skills in a team is essential for good team working and secures the accurate delegation of work. Staff are more likely to be productive when task assignment to them marry up with their skill set and interest.
Belbin Team Roles support this explanation in its bid to help team members become aware of their strengths and weakness within a team environment, by completing a personal assessment to highlight people’s behaviour, characteristics and attitudes. These are the aligned to 9 key roles. (Huczynski & Buchanan: 330) The nine roles of Belbin are listed as follows;
Plant – creative, imaginative
Resources investigator – Extrovert, communicative
Co-ordinator – mature, delegates well
Shaper – challenging, thrives on pressures
Monitor-evaluator – Sees all options, strategic
Teamworker – co-operative, mild
Implementer – disciplined, reliable
Completer – conscientious, delivers on time
Specialist – Single-minded, provides knowledge
Another method of developing team working and self-awareness is the Betari Box model. It ‘provides a vehicle for discussing the way in which people can get locked into a cycle of attitude breeding behaviour’ (Clements & Jones 2008:217). Implemented within the communication process, in the early stages of the team formation it lends itself to supporting diversity in the workforce. The Betari Box illustrates how our own attitudes and behaviours directly affect the attitudes and behaviours of people around us. When we’re stuck in a negative cycle, then it’s up to us to stop that cycle by changing our attitude. This will positively impact those around us – and therefore break the cycle.
My Attitude -> Affects -> My Behaviour -> Affects -> Your Attitude -> Affects -> Your Behaviour -> Affects -> My Attitude and so on.
These models are all under pinned by McLeod (2009:9) which states that ‘attitude, behaviour and outcomes – are part of the engagement story’. An engaged workforce are at less risk of conflict and disagreement.
As the project manager of a team, understanding changing dynamics and development is essential to grow and functionality. Using (Tuckman’s 1965) team development stages the manager will be better equipped to interpret the team stages of growth. According to Tuckman, in the initial stages of team evolution communication is essential, with the leading voice of the manager guiding an initially dependant team. ‘Members are dependent on some leaders to provide them with structure in the form of ground rules and agenda for action’. (Huczynski & Buchanan: 297) Implementing 1-1s, supervision, regular team meetings, and personal development programme will help to deliver clear modes of operation and behaviourial expectations.
Team conflict can stem from a variety of sources; difference in perception, departmentalisation, specialisation and role conflict. Mullins (2010) state ‘that there are different perspectives on conflict in the workplace, and in some cases conflict is a driver for creativity, energy and limiting apathy.’
Solving differences in perception is a challenging. The stringent use of management policies and procedures to enforce professional adult behaviour will help deter interpersonal differences of opinion. The reason behind this is ‘conflict is a behaviour that intends to obstruct a person from achieving some of their goal’ Mullin (2010). Informing employees on what behaviours are expect may help eliminate such conflict. Conflict in perception is likelier to arise when there are limited or unclear objectives, expectations and leadership from senior management. ‘Leadership is about creating a vision and direction for people, (Horn 2012:456).
Proactive leadership is essential in encouraging conflict resolution. Where possible, promoting a culture of respect and consideration for others needs and opinions, and encourage staff to find mutually acceptable solutions to minimise or avoid conflict situations. ‘People say what they think and trust that the other person will hear the criticism in the spirit of help in which they were intended. They give each other essential feedback that will help to improve individual and collective feedback’. (Ryan & Oestreich 1998:39).
One way of managing conflict is the use and awareness of transactional analysis. Encouraging team members to always have adult to adult conversations and to be aware of the possible risk of conflicts when roles change, is critical to conflict resolution. ‘So-called mature people are people who are able to keep the Adult in control most of the time but their child will take over on occasion like anyone else’s, often with disconcerting results’ (Berne 2011:27)
5. Political Behaviour
Political behaviour can be linked to the power the individual or team have. The level of power or status will determine how the team or individual will play out their behaviour; possibly removing themselves from involvement with the team if they feel they have limited power or status or firming up power
by pushing their view toward a self-interest goal. ‘Involves individual engaging in activities to acquire, develop, retain and use power in order to obtain their preferred outcome. (Huczynski & Buchanan 2001:823)
Resistance to the changes recommend by the CEO could initiate many of those political behaviours in order to keep the status quo or to try and sabotage the efficiency drive of the recruitment and selection process. Having an open and clear mechanism for staff opinions and views through, surveys, focus groups, and other staff feedback forums, where staff can contribute constructively, will bring benefit to the organisation and not hinder the progress of the project.
Reluctance to take part in team activity or limit information to the team, to negotiate higher status or responsibility because of the knowledge or skill that person has could be a display of political behaviour. This type of behaviour could cause the project to stagnate and caused deeper politicking as other individuals may retaliate in the same or worse manager, causing dysfunctional team dynamics and reduced work productivity as morale plummets.
It’s important to note that politics will always be part of a team but it’s not always accepted as adverse to the team or organisation. ‘In every team there are political agendas, so it is as well to be aware of them but try to avoid them’. (Horn 2012:119). ‘Thus organisational recruitment, appraisal and training and promotion policies directly encourages political behaviour’. (Huczynski & Buchanan 2001:824)
In order to bring about change, solve problems or develop ideas that grow and evolve businesses, influencing is critical. Built on Maslow hierarchy of need (Huczynski & Buchanan 2001:242), ‘Cohen & Bradford identified a range of positive sanctions and rewards which they termed organisational currencies. They showed how these could be used to influence others to comply with your request.’ (Huczynski & Buchanan 2001:819): currencies such as resources, information, network/contacts and recognition.
Using reward and recognition polices within the organisation to influences positive behaviours and adopt organisational values, would help to shape an open and engaged workforce and decrease the need for political and power play.
Exploring new ideas, view and thinking is necessary in an organisation to motivate, create innovation, enable development and support change, this require persuasive action. ‘Whatever control is achieved over work behaviour is brought about as much through the processes of negotiation, persuasion’ (Mullins 2005:844). With the De Bono Six hat, the team can be persuaded to see the benefits of the change in recruitment and selection. Using a clinical approach to discussions that remove the ego state associated with political behaviour, individuals will come to understand the importance of a fair political landscape that represents the organisation not a single individual.
Negotiation involves two parties coming together to confer with a view to concluding a jointly acceptable agreement’. (Gennard & Judge 2005:238) Through the earlier stage of team formation in the project process, issues of political behaviour can be negotiated through clear role selection of Belbin, behavioural expectation and awareness using Betari Box, and transactional analysis. Applied through the traditional route of 1-1s, supervision, team meeting and other informal interaction, leading to a lessening of these behaviours; as a result it can support staff smoothly through the change curve cycle.
I have used the Cause and Effect Diagram and the Pareto Diagram to argue a preferred decision on which part of the project I should delivery to the CEO.
The cause and effect diagram addresses the main problems by identifying what the causes are associated with that effect; in this case an inefficient, poor quality and disengaged recruitment and selection process. By asking a series of questions to key headings associated with the effect we can reach a range of decisions on what part of the causes are the major or minor reasons for the ‘effect’. ‘Cause-effect’ diagrams are particularly effective of helping to search for the root causes of problems’ (Slack 1998:703). Linked to the Pareto Analysis Model we can analysis which area of the ‘causes’ has the greater impact on the project. (Slack 1998) states that Pareto analysis ‘distinguishes between the vital few and the trivial many’.
I have used the cause effect model to help identify where the ‘root causes of problems’ (Slack 1998:704) lie in the project. The Pareto analysis model is then used to identify a specific cause or group of causes, which will solve a greater number of the effects or problems. In this project’s recommendations I have made a few assumptions to pinpoint that, the human resource (people) ‘causes’, would yield the greatest outcomes and it would be in this area that I would apply the ideas for improvement and recommend to the CEO. In appendix 2 have illustrated this explanation.
With a robust project plan and reliable control measures, issues such as risk and will be identified early on in the project process, ideally during the initial planning stages, with contingencies set in place for those eventualities.
With new ways of working applied to not only the process but people through De-Bono Six Hats and adult lead behaviourial awareness of Betari Box and transactional analysis; creativity and innovation should flourish in what should now be a trusting and transparent working environment. Signs of self-interest or personal political behaviours will be limited, though an open dialogue of communication across the team supported by strong influencing, negotiation and persuasion tools by the leadership.
Using any project plan methodology or project software to underpin the suggested ideas, the project plans should be able to fulfil it obligations and delivery the desired outcome for the CEO.
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Cause and Effect of Project Management Process
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