Project Management
John Potter
Plymouth Business School
University of Plymouth
People – the common
• Whatever the nature of the project it requires that
people work together effectively
•No two people are alike and we all have different needs
•We will look at working preferences with two
approaches to enable us to work more effectively with
individuals both in the project team and other
•The six psychological concepts relevant to project
working are perception, cognition, motivation,
personality, communication and behaviour.
What is perception?
• A key psychological concept in project working is that of
•No two people interpret a situation, experience or event in
exactly the same way
•The internal representation of a situation, experience or
event is what we call our perception of that situation,
experience or event
•An important skill of the project manager and leader is to be
aware of the perceptions of other people both in the project
team and the other stakeholders and understand how those
people see events and interpret them.
Fourth position etc
Third position
First position
Second position
Human beings process information and make meaning from it in a number of
A convenient approach to modes of thinking is the split brain approach
introduced by Roger Sperry in the 1960s
The idea is that we have two types of thought process – left brain thinking and
right brain thinking
These are not necessarily centred in the left or right brain hemispheres but are
more akin to different types of thinking process distributed throughout the brain
An effective project leader and manager needs to have both left brain skills
relating to logic, analysis, facts, numbers and so forth together with right brain
skills involving patterns, colour, rhythm, spatial issues and other ‘creative’ aspects
of the project.
In Western Society most of us rely heavily on left brain skills for success whereas
in reality it is access to both modes of thinking behaviour which is important.
Betty Edwards “Drawing on the right side of the Brain is a useful tool for
developing right brain skills together with Tony Buzan’s work on Mind mapping.
Many models of motivation – Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor,
Path-goal theory, House’s work etc
Putting it all together and creating an integrated approach –
Potter (2005)
The basic drivers against de-motivation:
The two major drivers of motivation:
◦ A sense that the individual is growing as a person
◦ A feeling that the individual is making a valued contribution to
something worthwhile
Another approach which is attracting interest at present is the SCARF approach
A useful internet reference to the meaning of SCARF is given at
An even more interesting introductory article by David Rock is given at
SCARF is an alternative approach to Potter’s model above and it includes and it is
based on the well established approach of approach-avoid in relation to five aspects
of an individual’s experience of working in the project team.
The Five aspects are Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.
Many tools of understanding personality and work style involve
the concept of ‘preferences’
The most commonly encountered tool based on preferences is
the Myers Briggs Type Inventory MBTI
This looks at four bipolar dimensions:
◦ Where the individual derives their energy from integration with
others or reflecting on their own
◦ The type of data they believe that is ‘here and now’ specific data or
more diffuse interaction patterns and softer data
◦ Whether they are driven by logic or emotional values
◦ The extent to which they are structured in their way of working. Do
they need control or simply to go with the flow.
An awareness of preferences based on the MBTI model is useful
as it enables the project leader and manager to deal with each
individual in the most effective way.
Based on Hippocrates four types of person model
The two classification scales are submissive to assertive and
open with emotions to closed in terms of emotional expression
This gives rise to four types of personalities in terms of
◦ The blue who is essentially people oriented, fun loving, highly
interactive and a good communicator and networker
◦ The yellow who is very people oriented and seeks to build harmony
and avoid conflict
◦ The green who is driven by attention to detail
◦ The red who likes to be in control, is drawn to risk and sees
themselves as a leader
The key point with this model is to treat people the way they
want to be treated. For a full treatment of this approach read
“Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer
A key attribute of the successful team is team spirit sometimes
called ‘esprit de corps’
By forming rapport with someone we mean getting on the
same ‘wavelength’ as that person
We are in rapport when our words, tone of voice and body
language are similar to the words used by the other person,
their tone of voice and their body language
If we can develop a common language within the project team
and work towards matching both tone of voice and body
language we can promote rapport and help develop a common
approach to working together and as a result team spirit will
develop in a positive way.
It is inevitable that conflict will occur in a team and it is
important to have ways to handle that conflict.
An effective way of dealing with conflict between two team
members is the ‘forced empathy’ approach
Forced empathy involves each person separately explaining
their view of the conflict situation to the project leader
The two individuals are then brought together and person A has
to explain how they think person B sees the situation until
person B is happy with that description. Person B then is asked
to explain how they think person A perceives the situation until
person A agrees with that description
Many conflicts are caused by a difference in perception and the
‘forced empathy’ approach can be very effective in resolving
such conflicts.
Changes will inevitably occur during the duration of a project and some
project team members will find it hard to deal with these and may
become very irritable
The SCRUM approach handles customer driven changes effectively
Project leaders need to be aware that people have a need for certainty,
develop comfort zones and are thus sometimes disturbed by changes
which they do not understand
Initially they may reject the change through denial, then resist it passively
then actively. These are the first two stages of the ‘change response
The project leader’s task is to encourage the individual to experiment
with implementing the change and perhaps with new ways of working.
Ultimately the goal of the project manager is to get the individual to
accept the change by experiencing small ‘building blocks of success’ and
then becoming committed to such an extent that they tell others that the
change is a good idea, focusing everyone on the benefits of the change.
The Sociogram provides a useful tool for examining
the performance and relationships within a project
We represent each individual by a circle and plot the
interactions over say a 20 minute period
Positive, neutral and negative interactions can be
recorded and a drawing created which shows which
individuals tend to work regularly within others within
the project team and which individuals may be seen to
be excluded in terms of the communication process
We can see a typical sociogram in the next slide
Edwards. B. (1993) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
Harper Collins: London
For SCARF references see
Buzan. T.(1993) The Mind Map Book. BBC Books: London
Littauer. F.(1994) Personality Plus. F.H. Revell : Michigan.
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John Potter
University of Plymouth
Managing and Leading the Project and people
Date Created
Educational Level
Level 5
Learning from WOeRK Work Based Learning WBL Continuous
Professional Development CPD leadership and management UKOER
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