4 Common Human Resource Factors Affecting Project Management

Sometimes managing people is more difficult than managing projects. But taking into account human resource factors, you can succeed with both. Here are the most common ones.
Mae Angeline
June 9, 2022

Managing human resources is a big part of project management, but it's also one of the most challenging. After all, people are poles apart, and there are many factors to keep an eye on that can affect your project success. They're called human resource factors. 

Human resource factors in project management are a set of peculiarities that your team members might have that can influence the outcome of the project. While there are lots of human factors in project management, in this article, we look at the most common ones. Without further ado, let's dive in!

1. Team members coming from mixed backgrounds

While diversity can be a strength, sometimes it can affect the overall performance of the project. The project team members might come from different cultural beliefs, religion or racial backgrounds. This can affect how each member of the team expects to interact with the others: the way they communicate and how they handle each other's perspective.

The best way to handle this potential friction is for project managers to be proactive. Team members should be aware of the diverse backgrounds of their colleagues so that they can handle their interactions with respect and empathy. Project managers should also come up with ways to handle any conflict that arises.

2. Personality and agenda clashes

People have different personality traits and different agendas that tend to show up. These can be individual values, attitudes, or personal behaviors that affect how the team works together and ultimately can affect the project.

For example, some individuals are comfortable asserting their views, and are also open to other people's ideas. These people will have a positive impact on the general team performance.

In other cases, you will find individuals who are less outgoing and can come off as cold and closed to the team. There are also individuals who will tend to agree easily with others and are not comfortable voicing their ideas in the presence of bolder personalities.

While it's not possible to develop human resource plan options to suit every member of staff, understanding how your team ticks will help you put together effective subteams that will work to each member's strengths.

3. Different range of experience

Your team members each have their own unique backgrounds of education and experience. When handled right, this can be an asset to a high-performing organization – but at other times, it can cause conflict.

For example, you may find that your experienced employees might not have the patience to work with the entry-level employees, or that two members of staff with similar levels of experience clash because they each have their own way of doing things. Another common situation can arise from biases relating to education or work experience: senior employees with non-formal education and years of experience may be unaccommodating to employees with a degree in their field but less time on-the-job.

The human resource manager or the project lead should do a proper introduction of new team members and the role they are going to undertake. This will help eliminate any uncertainty over responsibilities, and create a bridge to a more positive team interaction.

New to human resource planning? Read our article on why HRP is everyone's business. 📖

4. Various persons in authority

They say no man is an island, and the same is true of most projects. Within most companies, projects are dependent on other departments and approvals from various managers. The project manager has the responsibility of coordinating and communicating with all stakeholders in a timely manner, to ensure the project runs effectively. However, in some cases, the roles of the project manager and functional manager might seem to overlap, which can lead to mixed messages for the team.

The best solution is for the project manager to set up clear communication with all other managers involved in the project, and define who will make resource management decisions in different situations. The project manager should also be careful to follow the company project management procedures such as approval processes. Being aware of the enterprise environmental factors that influence how the project will be carried out is key to the overall success of the project.

Inevitably, working with people comes with its challenges. Project managers need to keep an eye out for these very human factors. The more they know about them, the more they can direct their teams to overcome any potential challenges that might arise. Every team is different, but that doesn't matter: as long as you are in-the-know on the human resource factors affecting your team members, it should be much easier to manage a project successfully.

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