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Project Management Practitioner Lesson: Human Resources

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By Edited Aug 6, 2016 0 0


“. . . includes the processes that organize, manage, and lead the project team.”  PMIBoK, 2013, pg 255[1]

Where's the Humanity 

The “Human” in Human Resource Management may sound like a simple matter of managing the hiring of employees, implementing pay and benefits packages, firing, re-assignments, and usually new employee training if needed. And yet, that’s the easy stuff. Oh yes, those are the straight forward tasks that anyone performs in the arena of Human Resources. But there is far more to this function than the name implies. Frankly, it can also be the source of great difficulty and consternation throughout the project lifecycle.

What Do I Mean By This

A project is performed by people; people are all different with different personalities, agendas, motivations, conflicting responsibilities, skill levels, intelligence levels, commitment and commitments (commitment: as in their commitment to a project; commitments: as in, regardless of their desire to commit to a project, outside forces may pull them in other directions).

HR Costs

People cost money and not just an hourly wage or salary; internal employee costs might include charges to the project that include employee benefits costs. Billing rates: This can be more than just a flat fee; internal departments can charge different amounts against the project account based on whether the employee is pulled in from day-shift, 2nd shift or night-shift. Overtime will cost extra. Holiday work, if needed, will cost extra. If you are using outside consultants/contractors you will have billable rates that can be quite high, depending on the position to be filled, skill level, certification requirements or training requirements, and projected hours. As project manager (PM) you will have little control over what the internal chargeable human resources costs will be; however, you can help yourself control some of the human resource costs by the type of procurement contract you use in the acquisition of externally sourced workforce. As for contracting types, that will be covered in the lesson article on Project Procurement Management.

Even Project Managers (PM) must become familiar with the legal and regulatory requirements that may impact the project such as Business Policies, Employment Laws – State, Federal, and Local government, Union or other skilled labor organizations, Veterans employment, are just as a few examples.

Note to Readers: As I always add in this Project Management Practitioner course material, at some time you should read through the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 5th Edition (2013). Chapter 9 covers PMIs view of the Human Resources.  [1]

Project Environment

Human resource management in a project and program environment requires a Project Manager (PM) to have a special set of skills that is not always needed for lower level project positions; such as a project coordinator or administrator or even most team positions. This does not mean that this batch of skills isn’t of value or worth nurturing and training within the entire team; the longer a project runs a PM should intentionally (and subtlety if warranted) schedule team training and one-on-one coaching-mentoring time with the members to develop these skills team wide. Even if the skills are not well ingrained in team members during the project at hand, those skills nurtured will benefit the next project and project team.   

What’s in your HRM Toolbox?  Some of the items listed below were covered in previous articles posted here on InfoBarrel. Where applicable, you will find references to the earlier articles for your reading pleasure.

 General Management Skills

  • Personal Time Management [Reference: Project Management Practitioner: How to Manage Your Time][3]
  • Leadership [Reference: Project Management Practitioner: Leadership and Management][3]
  • Meeting Management [Reference: Project Management Practitioner: Team Building][3]
  • Communicating [Reference: Project Management Practitioner: Interpersonal [2]Communications]
  • Team Building [Reference: Project Management Practitioner: Team Building][3]

Other and very critical “must have” skills every leader, manager, PM, supervisor in any environment, Conflict Resolution, Negotiating and Delegating

We All Love Videos

Below you will find several excellent videos that cover several important HR concerns.

Conflict Resolution Training: How To Manage Team Conflict In Under 6 Minutes!

Coaching and Mentoring

Team Motivation

Performance Appraisals

How NOT to do a performance appraisal: Scrubs Performance Evaluation

Employee Recruitment

Health and Safety

There are many scenarios that PMs might find themselves. Not all PMs are organic to the parent organization.

Organic PMs

The PM is organic to the organization and in a leadership, management or supervisor role within the department responsible for the project; thus, the PM has full legitimate authority over the project team.

The PM is organic to the organization; however, is assigned to a different department or a part of a project and program management department without direct team authority. All project team members belong to other departments and are tasked out for project work or on a work order/work package basis. This scenario includes internal formal project management offices and program management offices (PMOs).

Non-Organic PMs

The PM is an external resourced asset such as a contractor or consultant that must rely on the client/customer organization for project team support. Or the best scenario and this only happened to me once in a decade as a private sector PM, the PM is an external resourced asset such as a contractor or consultant that brings in a full contracted project team fully under the control and authority of the PM. The downside of this last scenario is – It’s all on you, the PM! You have total authority and total responsibility for everything employee related to include personnel costs, even if your company has a HR department. You are responsible to keep your team members motivated, encouraged, thus retained for the duration of the project.   

Human Resources Recruiting

Human Resource Management Planning

The following video provides an excellent overview of Project Management Human Resources according to the world of the Project Management Institute. Topics covered in this video include:

  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Authority
  • Competency
  • Project organization charts
  • Staffing management plan
  • Staff acquisition
  • Resource calendars
  • Training needs
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Compliance
  • Safety
  • Data Flow Diagram

PMI's Answer to HR Issues

Final Words

Let us sum up this article with a few bullet points and comments:

Leadership: Successful projects require strong leadership skills. Leadership is important through all phases of the project life cycle. It is especially important to communicate the vision and inspire the project team to achieve high performance. The PM’s behavior, attitude, conduct, and technical management skills will directly influence his/her leadership effectiveness. Poor leadership skills can lead to less than desired project results or performance results

Communications: Remember the old saying that “the buck stops here.” The “buck” is communications and information; you, the PM, are the one person that must receive all project information and serve as the controller and manager of information. You MUST ensure that the right people have the right information at the right time. Failure to keep everyone informed and failure to receive information yourself, will inevitably lead to project trouble. Communications has a direct effect on project success.

Key influencing skills include:

  • Ability to be persuasive and clearly articulate points and positions.
  • Active and effective listening skills.
  • Awareness of, and consideration for, the various perspectives in any situation
  • Collecting, maintaining and having a system in place to recall or produce relevant and critical information to address important issues and reach agreements.
  • Collaborate/Problem Solve. Multiple viewpoints and insights from differing perspectives helps create a team that feels their opinions matter. This will help with understanding as to how and why decisions were reached, in turn, leads to consensus and commitment.
  • Effective Decision-Making: This involves the ability to negotiate and influence the organization and the project management team. You will find more on this topic in an article published here on InfoBarrel titled: Project Management Practitioner: Problem Solving and Decision Making. Remember, the key is to focus on the decision-making process, the desired end-state, while being conscious of team dynamics, conflict management, coaching and mentoring. Yes, even the sponsor and those people you, the PM, don’t have authority over must be coached and mentored through this process. [3]

PM Practitioner Lessons


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  1. Project Management Body of Knowledge, 5th Edition (2013). Newtown Square: Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013.
  2. Cory Stophlet "Project Management Practitioner: Interpersonal Communications." InfoBarrel. 22/03/2015 <Web >
  3. Cory Stophlet "Project Management Practitioner Course." InfoBarrel. 22/03/2015 <Web >

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