Answered Essay: John has just been assigned as the Project Manager for a new software system implementation. In his

John has just been assigned as the Project Manager for a new software system implementation. In his past projects he has learned a lot about the human factors aspect of running projects, and why these are so important. In meeting his team, he quickly assessed that there are several very strong personalities within the individuals, and some likely frictional combinations. John was also given some background around the project sponsor and benefitting departments. It appears that the accounting department really likes their current system, and is not on board with the goal of this project, which is replacing it. The other impacted departments: sales, procurement, and finance are all luke warm to the benefits and haven’t been fully convinced. Taking what you have learned in this unit with regard to the human factors of project management, assess this situation and discuss how you would use people, team and organizational factors to increase the likelihood of the project’s success. Each student should write a 1-2 page paper, 1,000 word minimum, explaining how they would leverage these human factors in their own project management style to ensure that their projects were successful and achieved the desired goals. Make sure as part of your paper you address the following: how you would use the people factors to address the strong personalities of the individual team members, how you would use the team factors to reduce the likelihood of friction due to the personalities and dynamics, and finally how you would use the overall organizational factors to address the lack of sponsorship buy in and organizational support the project currently has.

Expert Answer

While very strong personalities within the individuals may create lot of friction and may pose frictional combinations, it is also important to note the contrary point of view, i.e. Why Personality Diversity Is Important.

Team members with different personality traits can be a lethal combination of great energy, if managed properly. It rarely happens so, or perhaps never so happens, that you will find people with matching personality traits in a team. In fact, it should not happen so. Only if Personality Diversity exists, we can build an effective team. Those who t possess the skills to build their teams around the right personalities and to manage those personalities, normally turn out to be good leaders.

The advantages of Pesonality Diversity are:

1. Good and bad personality traits within a team can offset one another and build on each other and lead to synergies.

2. Allowing team members to utilize their personality differences in a positive way, (rather than ask each team member to conform to a group norm), ensures high performance.

3. Creating an environment for team members to learn more about their own personality traits can help them understand their own strengths and weaknesses, which can help in selecting team members that will complement each other.

4. Learning about others’ personalities can help one to develop the ability to view situations from their perspectives.

5. In fact, one of the several charecteristics of successful teams is diversity in team members.

6. It is not only about diversity in culture, background, age, and ethnicity alone, but also about personality diversity.

7. High performing teams leverage their personality differences in a productive way to achieve the larger goals. (Examples: any high performing sports team)

The following five personality traits evident in individuals have been identified by experts that come into play when evaluating successful teamwork (Tasa, Shears & Schat, 2011).

1. Conscientiousness : achievement oriented, hardworking, dependable and organised. Conscientiousness has become a valid predictor of job performance as people who have high conscientiousness are thorough, motivated and organised.

2. Agreeableness – cooperative, warm and likeable. They are often the team member who will lend a helping hand.

3. Emotional stability – being emotionally stable refers to having appropriate feelings regarding an experience and acting accordingly. Those who have high emotional stability are more likely to remain calm during a crisis.

4. Extraversion – typically sociable, assertive, active, less introspective. Extraverts draw energy from people around them and are more likely to take on leadership roles.

5. Openness to experience – characterised by intelligence and being unconventional; imaginative, autonomous and nonconforming.

(The combination of high levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability has been shown to be a good predictor of increased teamwork and decreased conflict;

while those high in openness to experience can be the catalysts for innovation and creativity)

(Barrick, Stewart, Neubert & Mount, 1998; Bell, 2007)

Experts have also recommended the following five steps to manage diversity in personality traits and to manage the conflicts due to such diversity:

Step 1: Understand why the conflict has arisen

Majority of the problem is solved, if we understand the reasons for conflict. Conflicts can be classified as below:

a) relationship conflict (personality differences or differences in values)

b) task conflict (content and outcomes of the task being performed)

c) process conflict (logistics of completing the task)

While task and process conflicts can be resolved through a simple team meeting to work through the best solution;

relationship conflict, will often have more negative and longer lasting impacts and can be more difficult to manage and resolve.

Step 2: Communication is the key

Activities in this effective strategy involves

a) communicate clear expectations,

b) establish acollaborative environment

c) find an optimum way for all members

Step 3: Conflict resolution strategies

The following are some key steps to resolve conflicts:

a) Act immediately

b) Meet with all people involved in the conflict individually and get a clearer picture of the key issues, with each person and the common ground.

c) Summarise the key issues; pay close attention to everyone’s needs (else may lead to feelings that the solution is biased towards one person or another).

d) Encourage the people involved to discuss options for resolution.

e) Reality test the options. Use “What if…” questions to help ensure that the suggested

solutions are practical and will work.

f) Negotiation

g) Ensure everyone involved is satisfied with the solutions offered

Step 4: What processes, behaviours and goals will change?

a) Set rules and standards of behaviours early on and encourage positive feedback as well as constructive criticism.

b) Establish and communicate the types of behaviours that will not be tolerated.

c) Start with small goals and work your way up instead of aiming to achieve an overall goal.

d) assigning tasks more strategically as opposed to traditional allocation methods such as

responding to volunteers.

Step 5: Review and repeat:

The intended changes and improvements may not happen right the first time. Team

dynamic optimisation is about improving steps and processes, and therefore cannot be

expected   to go perfectly the first time. What you can do to speed it up however is be clear

about how you’re going to measure success and re-introduce goals further down the track.

An effective strategy at this stage is making the team members realise what are their KPI’s.

This could include anything from direct team and relationship related outcomes such as –

less arguments, turnover, stress leave, complaints from other departments to goal and

company related outcomes such as – more sales and enquiries, better feedback from

customers, more task completions per week.

Conclusion:

Clashes are a common occurrence when working in a group. These clashes if managed properly can lead to a high performing team.

References:

1. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Managing_Groups_and_Teams/Team_Personalities

2. https://www.psychpress.com.au/Newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf

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