top of page

The Human Resource (HR)

Human Resources: "It isn't the thing we do, it's the thing that runs our business".

Steve Wynn, Wynn Las Vegas

Project Team: A set of individuals who support the

Project Manager in performing the

work of the project to achieve its

objectives. This team is a sub-set of

the Stakeholders.

Project Management Team: This team is a sub-set of the Project Team, consisting of the members of the Project Team who are directly involved in project management activities. These are the

do-ers on your team.

Professional Project Management is a people-oriented profession. It is most always done in a Team environment, with you, as PM, leading the team. Project Managers accomplish the work through the Project Management Team and other Stakeholders. Project team-leading is different from leading other teams, primarily because:

1. Your team members have other jobs besides

your project; and they are on other teams,

not just yours.

2. A project, by definition is a temporary endeavor,

so your project will come to an end.

Reality Check:

  • Project Management is a high profile position

  • Project Managers get noticed for their successes, and lack of successes.

  • Good reputations take a long time to create but can be lost quickly.

  • Your career rides on being successful

  • Accept that some days you will be the pigeon, and some days you'll be the statue!

Remember, as a Professional Project Manager, you are the leader and people expect you to lead them. You are the hub of the wheel and everything flows through you. You are the nucleus of the molecule which holds it all together. Click here to see the model. Remember:

No one wants to be on a ship without a captain!

LET'S LOOK AT YOU. This link gives you a page of Skills, Competences, and Characteristics to work on, for your development as a Professional Project Manager. For more help with Interpersonal Skills, click here. Keep in mind that each Stakeholder has an Expectation (click and scroll down) of "the way you will manage your project."

An important interpersonal skill is Motivation. These 12 tips will really help you to motivate your Project Management Team, win the respect of your team members, and get recognition from your Sponsor and boss.

1. Carefully consider the assignments you give to your Project Management Team Members.

People generally respond well to

work that is challenging and interesting. Be

sensitive to both their willingness and ability to

perform the work.

2. Provide ownership to your Project Management Team Members.

3. Try to direct What to do, not How to do it.

4. Make sure there is only one owner per assignment.

5. Provide clear direction to Project Management Team Members.

6. Ensure Project Management Team Members

have the ways and means to execute assignments.

7. Do not overburden your Project Management Team Members

with unnecessary meetings and reports.

8. Follow up with timely feedback from the Project Management Team Member

and hold him/ her accountable.

9. Be available to your Project Management Team Members

10. Correct poor performers. Reward good ones.

Then play to that motivator.

12. Structure your project to be a continuous series of little successes,

and celebrate the successes, as they arise.

This document provides good advice for anyone who has others reporting to him/ her. Although written by a Vice President, you can adapt these 10 points to you and your Project Management Team.

When you set up a Project Management Team, you set up an Organization. Knowledge in Organizational Behavior will serve you well. Theories by Maslow, McGregor, Ouchi, McLelland, Vroom, and Hertzberg continue to help us understand other people and how to work most effectively with them. These Ten Principles are well worth following.

Make no mistake about it. Project Management is management. You might not have a permanent staff. You might not have the key to the executive washroom. But the tasks you perform and the skills you need are management all the way!



In common usage these words seem interchangeable. However, in management these words have very specific, and important meanings:

Responsibility: The obligation to carry out assigned duties.

In general, Project Managers have the responsibility to satisfy the Project Goals. Your Project Charter should list some of your responsibilities as a Project Manager. You might also receive a Job Description to provide your responsibilities. Occasionally you will be invited to participate in developing a list of Project Manager responsibilities. Here is a list of 12 responsibilities to get you started.

Authority: The right (power) to apply resources, make decisions, give approvals, and issue orders to

other people.

Accountability: Being answerable for actions taken and results. A person should not be held

accountable, without being given the needed authority.

As a (project) manager, you delegate some of your authority (given to you by the Project Sponsor, or your boss) to your Project Management Team members to get things done. In return you expect accountability for the assignment. Always confirm the accountability by following-up with your Project Management Team member. You and your team continue to share in the responsibility.


The authority in a Project Management Team cuts across regular lines of authority "like buckshot through a cabbage": Syd Love.

Project Managers can only be accountable for getting project Activities done when given special short term authority. Specifically the authority to:

  • Acquire and coordinate resources

  • Make binding decisions

There can only be one Project Manager per project. Make sure everyone knows who it is!

As Project Managers we have a Bill of Rights. This is not a new idea. All civilized organizations have some rules of conduct, and this Bill of Rights gives us the authority to be effective in managing projects. Does this always work? Maybe not. Our country's Bill of Rights isn't always observed either. But show the Project Manager's Bill of Rights to your Sponsor (defined on the Bill of Rights page) and to your boss. Let them know this is what you expect from them. Even if you do not get full agreement, you will certainly know the rules to play by.

On the Bill of Rights page, have a look at the Sponsor's responsibilities. Have an honest discussion with your Project Sponsor to let him/her know this is what you need.


In any organization, authority problems can arise; meaning a team member resists your authority. This type of problem is more likely in a Project Management Team because many team members do not report to you on a day-to-day basis. Here are some tips.


1. At the project inception, brief your Project

Management Team and end users about your

responsibilities and how you will handle them.

Make sure the project Sponsor is included in

these meetings, or at least briefed


2. At the first sign of a problem, raise it

diplomatically and restate roles, responsibilities,

and your expectations. Secure commitment

from the team member to respect your authority

as the Project Manager. This should be handled

in a non-political, one-on-one basis.

3. Act accordingly. Remember- you

are the Project Manager. Important: your Team

will emulate your behavior.

4. If necessary, after unsuccessful discussion with

the team member, inform that team member's

direct superior, requesting support for your role

as Project Manager.

5. Continue to work closely with your own direct

manager, seeking advice. This also reinforces

your role as the Project Manager.

Authority problems, when not addressed, almost always get worse. These are awkward to deal with for most of us, but the Professional Project Manager will meet authority problems head on. Usually the rest of your team will thank you for it!


Here are some tips you can use to control escalation of ANY problem:

1. Immediately document each problem and

what is needed to resolve it.

2. Promptly assess the potential risk to the

project goals.

3. Determine who is the best person to solve

the problem, and assign it with a deadline.

4. Advise upper management quickly, if a

decision needs to be made at that level.

Provide a "need by" date and a statement on

the impact of the decision; or of not getting a

timely decision.



Many process models are available for Human Resource Management. For our purposes we will discuss 4 processes: Plan Human Resources, Acquire the Team (Resources), Develop the Team, and Manage the Team. For brevity we will use "Team" to mean "Project Management Team"


Preparing a Human Resources Plan consists of identifying project roles, responsibilities, required skills, reporting relationships, and creating a staffing management plan. It begins when you are Planning Time. See Step 3 of "Steps to Making a Time Plan" (by CLICKING HERE). At this point you determine the skills you need and when you need them, which can be added to your Activity List, and illustrated on a histogram. You will also determine when the people are available, and put that information onto a Resource Calendar.

In large or complex projects, management Tools such as a project organization chart, project job descriptions, a chart of project roles and responsibilities (RACI), and an Issue Log will be

needed. Also, a plan for Safety should be included in every project.

Other elements that can be included in your Human Resources Plan (for longer projects) are:

  • Team Member Acquisition/ Release Plan

  • Team Training Plan

  • Team building strategies

  • Recognition and Rewards strategies

TEAM SIZE: Project teams should be large enough to represent the Sponsor and all Stakeholders, but only as large as necessary. With not enough people on a project you can not solve the problems, and in a timely fashion. With too many people, they create more problems than they solve!

B. ACQUIRE the TEAM (Resources)

A Project Management Team is not a committee. They do not sit and advise -- they must get results! Pulling rank has no place between Team Members, but reporting is done according to Activity and the Work Breakdown Structure. The focus should be on accomplishment, not on power plays; and for this to occur the Project Manager must have a say in the selection of the Team Members. Remember the Project Manager's Bill of Rights, you have the right to select Team Members.

Criteria for Team Members are that they must have:

  • The expertise needed

  • Available time

  • Ability to make decisions (decisive)

  • Authority to make decisions that are binding upon the group they represent

  • Collaborative personality

In addition, Team Members should have:

  • Agreement from their supervisor to be available

  • Desire to see the Activities accomplished

  • Personality that is manageable by the Project Manager

Project Management has enough built-in uncertainty. You want to minimize all possible risks. So, it is really important to get the right people working on your project, especially those with critical skills.

Critical skills are those which could place the project at risk if not available. Failure to secure these skills and their ongoing involvement and commitment can threaten the overall Project Schedule, Cost, Quality, and Customer Satisfaction. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Determine the correct critical skill sets required.

2. Secure commitment (written is better) from

those Team Members and/ or their bosses.

3. If you cannot acquire the skill internally,

consider training, or acquiring the skill from

external sources; and allow additional time in

your Time plan (and possibly additional money

in your Cost plan) for integration.

4. If the right people are just not going to be

available, consider adjusting your baselines.

Then advise your Sponsor and your boss and

report the risk on your Project Status Reports

and Risk Register.


Every project is a teacher. By strategically delegating, following up, providing coaching, and mentoring, you have the opportunity to allow your Team Members to develop their skills, while working on your project.

Skill development will include both individual competencies, and group team-work improvements ('jelling' as a team). Individual development and team-work improvements are sure-fired ways to motivate your Team.

Consider using Team Performance Assessments to evaluate how the team is working as a unit. For longer duration projects you can consider these Tools: CLICK on the BLUE fonts for more information.

4. Co-location: placing Team Members in the

same location. This may require office

relocations or can be a dedicated "war room"


Project Team Management is the process of tracking and following-up with Team Member performance, providing feed-back, resolving issues, and managing team changes to optimize project performance.

As Project Managers we might have the words "coaching and mentoring" in our job descriptions. I have always felt it means much more than correcting employee mistakes, but includes teaching our Team Members how to do things better, and how to do better things. The letter "E" helps me remember what to include. I need to: Engage, Educate, Empower, Equip, Encourage, Exhort, Ensure Success.

As a Professional Project Manager, you are expected to provide the environment for high motivation and moral, as the way of getting the work done.

Together with the skills, competences, and characteristics you bring to the team, two Tools can be very useful for Team Management: MBWA and Performance Appraisals.

Management by Walking Around (MBWA), refers to visiting the workplace, rather waiting for Team Members to visit you in your office. Random observation and conversation will help you stay in touch with the work and moral of Team Members. I hope you enjoy this cartoon!

The other Tool useful for team management is Project Performance Appraisals; which are conducted only in the context of your project. Outcomes for these appraisals are:

  • Further clarification of roles and responsibilities

  • Constructive feedback to Team Members

  • Discovery of unknown issues

  • Advancement of Training Plans

  • Development of further plans

Here is a KEY:

Almost anyone can get people to perform when given enough formal authority. But as Project Managers, we seldom have formal authority over our Team Members.Therefore, we rely on Relational Authority, meaning people do things for you because they want to. Much can be accomplished with informal authority when Team Members have been motivated to see the project succeed. This is a big key to project success. It is also a great key to career success!

After planning, you will want to begin Monitoring and Controlling the outcomes of your project. CLICK HERE and follow the links to find out how to monitor and control Human Resources.

1,992 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page