Development of a new competence and behaviour model for skills in working with people for project managers
Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation 2006 258 Pages
List of Models
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Context of this Research
1.2 The Purpose of the Research and its Aims and Objectives
1.3 The Research Process
1.4 The Research Scope
Chapter 2: Framework for Thesis
2.2 Definitions of Competence, Competency, Competencies, Attitudes and Behaviours
2.3 Does a Change in Attitude lead to a Change in Behaviour?
2.4 Overview of APM BoK (2000, 2006) Competence Model
2.5 Other Frameworks
2.6 Review of Links: APM (2000, 2006), IPMA (1999), PMI (2004) and Crawford (2000)
Chapter 3: Literature Reviews
3.2 The Nature of a General and Project Management Literature Review
3.3 Management Books and Journals Pre-1990
3.4 Project Management Books and Journals Pre-1990
3.5 Other Related Research Contributions
Chapter 4: Methodology and Research Design
4.2 The Research Paradigms of Positivism and Phenomenology
4.3 The Ontological and Epistemological Positions of the Researcher
4.4 Research Questions
4.5 Research Design
4.6 Research Methods
Chapter 5: Interviews
5.2 Critical Review of Data from Interviews
5.3 Conclusions from Interviews and Competence and Behaviour Model 3
Chapter 6: Focus Group
6.2 Critical Review of Data from Focus Group Meeting
6.3 Focus Group Conclusions and Triangulation of Data (Model 4)
Chapter 7: Confirmation of Competence and Behaviour Model 5
7.2 Results of Critical Review of Model 4 with Community of Practice
7.3 Conclusions from Critical Review Meeting (Model 5)
Chapter 8: Conclusions
8.2 Research Questions Revisited
8.3 Research Objectives Revisited
8.4 Training and Development for Project Managers
8.5 Potential Applications of new Competence and Behaviour Model 5
Chapter 9: Research Limitations
9.1 Limited Context
9.2 Research Limitations
9.3 Potential for Further Research
Additional Members: Focus Group Revisited
List of Figures
Figure 1.1 Plan for the Thesis
Figure 2.1 Fisher’s (1999) Model of People in Projects
Figure 2.2 Other Competence Frameworks
Figure 3.1 Skills in working with people: APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006),IPMA ICB (1999) and IPM Guide (2004)
Figure 3.2 Behaviour and Underlying Factors (Honey, 1988)
Figure 3.3 Management Competences and Behaviours of Superior Performing Project Managers (Adapted from Dainty, Cheng and Moore, 2005)
Figure 4.1 Research Design Process Diagram (adapted from Blackburn, 2001)
Figure 4.2 Research Design and Process
Figure 4.3 Features of the Positivism and Phenomenology Paradigms, adapted from Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Lowe (1991)
List of Models
Model 1 Competence and Behaviour Model 1: APM BoK (2000, 2006)
Model 2 Competence and Behaviour Model: APM BoK (2000, 2006) and Literature Review
Model 3 Competence and Behaviour Model: APM BoK (2000, 2006),Literature Review and Face to Face Interviews
Model 4 Competence and Behaviour Model: APM BoK (2000, 2006), Literature Review, Face to Face Interviews and Focus Group
Model 5 New Competence and Behaviour Model for Project Managers
Glossary of Terms
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Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Context of this Research
This chapter provides an introduction to the context of this current research, its main purpose, aims and objectives, the research process and scope, and an outline plan of this thesis (Figure 1.1).
Project management has been around for a long time. Morris (1994, p.1) considers that 'Managing projects is one of the oldest and most respected accomplishments of mankind. We stand in awe of the achievements of the builders of the pyramids, the architects of ancient sites, the masons and craftsmen of great cathedrals and mosques, of the might and labour behind the Great Wall of China and other wonders of the world. Today's projects, too, command our attention. We were riveted at the sight of Americans landing on the moon. We are impressed as a new computer system comes on line or as a spectacular entertainment unfolds'. He goes on to suggest that all of these endeavours are projects and that the skills required to manage these are not well-known other than to the specialists concerned. Morris (1994) suggests that our knowledge of project management can make a major contribution to management at large. Project management has not been recognised as a central discipline for very long. He reports that industrial companies now use project management as their principal management style. 'Management by projects has become a powerful way to integrate organisational functions and motivate groups to achieve higher levels of performance and productivity' (Morris, 1994, p.1).
In contrast, Hodgson and Cicmil (2006) suggest that projects appear to be not real and that people should not 'jump straight into defining what a project is and what it is not (Stacey, 2000,p.2)-and to move swiftly on to how it is, therefore, to be modelled and managed. Their mission is to provide space outside of the tightly defined and densely populated conceptual landscape of mainstream project management, space where other perspectives, other concerns and other agendas may be articulated and explored. They organised two workshops in 2003 and 2004, with the explicit aim to make projects critical. The workshops brought together a diverse community of researchers and practitioners from Europe, North America and Australasia with a common interest in considering vital issues and values which are both ignored and obscured by mainstream project management. 'By mainstream, we particularly mean the prescriptions related to managerial skills and competencies that are offered to practitioners in the vast number of project management texts in existence' (Hodgson and Cicmil, 2006, p.2).
They consider that the limitations and challenges to this view of projects are widely recognised across the field, and increasingly within the mainstream project management community itself. Project management has recently been the centre of attention of a large number of researchers and practitioners alike. This coincided with the increased adoption of project-based working across industrial sectors (Cicmil, 2001; Hodgson, 2002). They suggest that the foundations and practical applications of a glossified managerial technology (time, cost and quality) have been seriously questioned by both the academic and the practitioner community, such as Morris (1997) and Koshela and Howell (2002). Authors such as Morris (1997) and Maylor (1999, 2001), amongst others, have called for a re-examination of the dominant doctrines in project management for their failure to deliver on their promises. There is little evidence that suggests that the resulting torrent of competing streams of thought, methods of enquiry and best-practice claims and propositions, has creatively contributed either to constructive debate in the field or to resolving the difficulties encountered in practice. Their concerns are discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.
Before continuing to look at the historical origins of project management, the researcher suggests that it is important to consider the definition of what a project actually is, in the context of this current research. Early definitions include that it is 'any undertaking that has a definite, final objective representing specified values to be used in the satisfaction of some need or desire (Davis, 1951, p.268), or it is simply a cluster of activities that is relatively separate and clear cut. A project typically has a distinct mission and a clear termination point (Newman, Warren and Mc Gill, 1987, p.140). Barnes (BBC 2,1989) suggests that 'Projects have a beginning and an end' and projects come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from large construction projects such as building the Channel Tunnel to organising an office relocation. Depending on the size of the endeavour, large or small teams may be required to deliver these projects with more than one sponsor and stretching across many cultural boundaries due to their global nature. More recent definitions include Turner (1993, p.8) who defines a project as 'an endeavour in which human, material and financial resources are organised in a novel way, to undertake a unique scope of work, of given specification, within constraints of cost and time, so as to achieve beneficial change defined by quantitative and qualitative objectives'. Gareis (2005, p.37) considers that 'projects are temporary organisations which are used for the performance of relatively unique, short to medium term, strategically important business processes which are medium to large in complexity'.
Returning to the historical origins of project management, it appears that the first project management documentation was created in 1941 for the development of the atomic bomb for the Manhattan Engineering District Project. In the 1960s and 1970s the experiences of US Air Force, Navy and NASA projects were used as a basis for projects in other industries such as construction, engineering and information technology. Another phase of project management development was heralded with the theme 'Management by Projects' during the Project Management World Congress of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in Vienna in 1990. 'Management by Projects' was presented as a new organisational strategy. It is the realisation of projects as temporary organisations that contributed to the increasing importance of project management.
This had a major impact on the working environments and working practices of organisations. It appeared that project managers were expected to deliver more in less time, to higher quality standards and with fewer resources (Turner, 2003). The importance project management needs to play in today's and tomorrow's changing working environments and working practices has increased quite dramatically since the 1990s (Turner, 1993;Gareis,1990 and Cleland, 1994).Companies such as Vodafone and O2 in the United Kingdom adopted project management methodologies to deliver work packages in a more cost-conscious and controlled way, making best use of their often limited human resources to create competitive advantage and to meet customer requirements. Customers placed higher demands on product and service quality. They no longer accepted product or service limitations forced upon them by suppliers such as limited colour choices or design options. It appears that this led to widespread organisational restructuring across the industries to respond appropriately to these new demands. The researcher acted as a participant researcher, demonstrating that he is a member of the community of practice, with extensive knowledge of the changing ways of working and working practices, arising from personal observations of change in the dynamics of the context. This is interpreted in more detail in Chapter 4.The researcher's knowledge is based on over 30 years of both practical experience and observation in his role as a senior project management professional and senior line manager, working for companies such as British Telecom, O2, Vodafone and the GSM Association, both in the United Kingdom and abroad. The demands placed on project managers by these companies became ever more exacting. The researcher suggests that it appears that these companies did not train and develop their project managers to live up to the new demands placed upon them. They based their training and development more on historical project management approaches. This allowed a shortfall to develop between what companies expected of their project managers in terms of delivery capability and the skills in working with people and associated behaviours project managers needed to respond to these expectations. This current research is about the researcher's perception about the nature of the shortfall of what he perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in the past and what people skills project managers need to have in future, due to the changes in working practices that changed as a result of increases in pressure to achieve better results, and to develop a new competence and behaviour model that will provide the means to fill this shortfall (Chapter 2).
Returning to the history of project management, matrix-type cross-functional working was adopted by companies and organisations such as British Telecom, O2 and Orange..This replaced the former hierarchical working styles of the pre-1990s. It led to reductions in management layers, flatter organisational structures and wider spans of control. Managers were empowered more and were expected to manage these changes in working environments and practices effectively. Bruce (2003, p.80) suggests that there were other external factors that impacted the modus operandi of businesses. He considers that the increase in global competition and the expanding role played by technology further created a need to establish new ways of working for managers. He suggests that the combination of these aspects led to greater emphasis on the importance of groups and team working. This put enormous pressure on project managers to manage and direct their project teams in such a way that they could still deliver their project goals and objectives and meet new performance expectations set by Senior Management. The researcher considers that project managers need to improve their people management skills. It is through the application of appropriate people competences and behaviours that they will be able to deliver their projects more successfully in future, in line with business, customer and Senior Management expectations. It is important that this shortfall is closed now so that project managers can manage the people in their projects more effectively to meet the new challenges and demands placed upon them. Partington (2000) suggests that the increasingly complex commercial environment has focused the attention of business leaders on achieving and sustaining the economic performance of their organisations. More emphasis was placed on the determinants of success and failure of firms. This led to a sharp growth in interest in the formulation and implementation of corporate strategy. Strategic management gained in popularity and thus became significant, both as a field of academic study and as an essential senior management activity. He suggests that strategic and project management have grown in parallel. This comes as no surprise as both share a central concern for change in the world of organisations. This has had a major impact on the nature of managerial work. Their competence was previously based on a highly developed ability to operate in a command-and-control working environment. In the new world, this competence is no longer adequate nor desirable if they wish to succeed as managers of people. The challenge these managers face is to manage people effectively within an increasingly unstable world.
Internationally established and recognised professional project management bodies such as the Association for Project Management (APM), the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) responded to the need to consider appropriate skills in working with people for project managers. Based on commissioned research and the adoption of each other's knowledge, they produced bodies of knowledge that suggest some competences and behavioural characteristics in working with people professional project managers should adopt to manage the people in their projects effectively. This was a good start to try and close the shortfall. The APM's Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006), on which this research is based, was first developed in the late 1980s. The first edition was published in 1992 and the current edition was published in 2006. The Body of Knowledge is at the heart of the APM. It incorporates fifty-two knowledge areas required to manage any successful project. It represents the topics in which practitioners and experts consider professionals in project management should be knowledgeable and competent. The APM promotes the use of their Body of Knowledge through qualifications, accredited training, research, publications and events. APM members (14,500 in over 100 countries) are skilled and experienced professionals recognised in the United Kingdom and throughout the world via the IPMA (APM is the United Kingdom member of the IPMA). The APM is the leading association for project management in the United Kingdom. Their mission is to develop and promote the professional disciplines of project and programme management for the public benefit.
The researcher considers that the APM BoK (2000, 2006) is most appropriate for this current research. It relates to competences and behavioural characteristics for project managers in the United Kingdom. This is the area the researcher knows best as both an academic researcher and a member of the community of practice. The researcher considers that the larger Project Management Institute's Body Of Knowledge (PMIBOK, 2004) in the United States is not appropriate for the purposes of this current research. Project managers in the West have different expectations to project managers operating in the East or Asia Pacific area, for example. There are substantial cultural differences, too. What works well in one cultural environment does not necessarily work equally well in a different cultural setting. The literature review for both the general management and project management publications has been a useful source of ideas about what is going on in relation to the research and what is already known about the subject matter under investigation. The outcome of the literature review has shown some of the competences and behavioural characteristics project managers need to have in future to manage the people in their projects more effectively. The researcher considered to seek additional sources of empirical and academic knowledge from other researcher such as Dainty, Cheng and Moore (2005) and Moore, Cheng and Dainty (2003) who conducted relevant research in this area, to strengthen the results from the literature review and to attempt to frame this issue to develop a new competence and behaviour model for managing people skills, for project managers.
Crawford (2000) carried out some doctoral research work in what constitutes a competent project manager. She suggests that as more organisations adopt project management as a modus operandi to deliver work packages, and the demand for project managers grows, that there is an increasing interest in the competence of project managers and in standards for development and assessment of project management competence. She reports that project management standards are being used extensively throughout the world in training and development, professional certification programmes and corporate project management methodologies. Crawford (2000) uses statistical data drawn from a sample of 352 project personnel who were involved in this research, from three countries: Australia, United Kingdom and the United States. Crawford (2000) suggests that new research needs to be conducted to verify what the shortfalls, for example, of the PMI BOK (2000) are and how these can be improved. The research of this thesis builds on the work of Crawford (2000). It is, in this context, limited to the researcher's perception about the nature of the shortfall of what he perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in the past and what people skills project managers need to have in future, due to the changes in working practices that changed as a result of increases in pressure to achieve better results, and to develop a new competence and behaviour model that will provide the means to fill this shortfall (Chapter 2).The content of the IPMA and PMI guides are based, to some extent, on the content of the APM guide and vice versa. The content of the APM guide is based on commissioned research conducted by Professor Peter Morris in the United Kingdom in the 1990s and again early in the new millennium, on behalf of the APM. Other research by Blackburn (2001), Huemann (2002), Dainty, Cheng and Moore (2005), Moore, Cheng and Dainty (2003) and Bredin and Soederlund (2006) were considered as an appropriate additional source of relevant empirical research data to supplement the outcomes from the literature review and the research work of Crawford (2000), in order to develop the new competence and behaviour model for skills in working with people, for project managers (Chapter 3). Their research relates to project management and considers the importance project managers need to place on the management of people in projects. They suggest a number of skills in working with people such as good communications skills, interpersonal influence, emotional stability, empowering people and leading others against which project managers should be assessed as being competent in. They also consider behaviours that project managers should adopt for the considered competences. The outcome of the literature reviews for the general and project management publications, when combined with the contributions from the other academic research, confirms that the shortcoming of how project managers need to manage the people in their projects in future, in the face of the changing working environments and practices, still exists. Further work, for example, the collection of additional empirical data from sources such as face to face interviews and a focus group meeting, is required to strengthen the outcome of the literature review. All these research contributions are relevant to this current research to answer the main research questions and to develop a new competence and behaviour model for skills in working with people for project managers. The new model is not limited to any specific industry sector such as Construction, Automotive or Telcommunications.
Alvesson and Deetz (2000, p.60) consider that 'qualitative research is increasingly popular in the various fields of social science, including management studies'. It appears that the shift away from positivist research makes possible broader and richer descriptions, sensitivity to the ideas and meanings of the individuals concerned, increased likelihood of developing empirically supported new ideas and theories, together with increased relevance and interest for practitioners (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994; Martin and Turner, 1986). Alvesson and Deetz (2000) suggest that the crucial issue for researchers is not the choice between quantitative or qualitative methods but involves much more fundamental concerns about how the world is constructed and how humans can know things. They argue that research may aid human development by highlighting the precarious and debatable nature of knowledge. They suggest that 'perception requires both an interest and way of relating to the world and a world that can be related to in that way. The world, in itself, is fundamentally indeterminant, it is made determinant in specific ways by human interests in and ways of relating to it. Facts and data are produced and make sense only in the context of a particular framework that allows and guides us to see certain things and neglect others (Alvesson and Deetz, 2000, p. 63). They consider that in methods and research practices in which the researcher tries to achieve objectivity through isolating the work from the outside world and its contaminations, the latter unavoidably creeps in. Purified social research implies a denial of the social nature of research. It means that the idiosyncrasies of the researcher-the particular mix and dynamics of social influences affecting the researcher's objectivity-and the research community-are hidden behind a false image of objectivity. The researcher acknowledges the concerns of Alvesson and Deetz (2000). The chosen constructivist interpretivist research approach of this thesis endeavours to address the concerns raised by considered researchers. Figure 1.1 shows the six main research areas the researcher considers important for this current research in order to answer the main research questions (Chapter 4) in such a way that both academics and the community of practice can have confidence in the research structure, approach and results.
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Figure 1.1 Plan for the Thesis
The results of this research should be of particular interest to project managers and academics alike. It is suggested that project managers would benefit from adopting the recommended skills in working with people and associated behaviours so they can manage the people in their projects more successfully. Professional project management institutions such as APM, PMI and IPMA should consider whether to adopt the new competence and behaviour model from this current research and include these in the next edition of their respective Bodies of Knowledge. Existing management competence models, standards and theories can be improved by the contribution to knowledge from this study. The knowledge shortfall that exists is not only applicable to project management but is equally valid for line management, based on the strength of evidence from the literature review and the contributions from related doctoral and other research. For example, effective leadership and associated behaviours are appropriate for managing people well in projects and in line management. Their application and timing within each of the two concepts may differ, depending on individual circumstances.
It appears that there is a growing and desperate need for project management skills, not just in business environments but also in areas such as charity and international aid activities. Project management has developed from focusing primarily on tools and techniques to also addressing strategic management and skills in working with people issues. It appears that project management has become part of mainstream management. According to Maylor (1996), line managers manage the status quo, have a consistent set of tasks and work in permanent organisational structures. Project managers are responsible for overseeing change, have responsibility for cross-functional activities and operate only within structures, which exist for the life of the project. Project management is about doing, turning dreams into reality and business strategy into success (Buttrick, 1997). In this context, the reseacher considers that it is important to share his views on the significant differences that exist between line and project management, from a managerial perspective. The researcher suggsts that, based on his extensive experiences of managing people both at line and project level over the last 30 years, the skills in working with people to be an effective manager, share similar characteristics. Both line and project managers, for example, need to have the ability to communicate well, lead others effectively and manage conflict constructively. There are fundamental differences between the two in the area of managerial behaviours. Line managers have direct control over their staff. They have much greater influence on the work staff under their direct control carry out and how they carry out these tasks. It appears that they have the unique ability to allocate staff to do different tasks at a moment's notice.They can be more direct with their staff, for example, telling them what to do and how to do it. They are likely to have developed closer working relationships which negate the need to be overly polite or come to the point in a roundabout way. In contrast,project managers rely on people's goodwill much more because they do not have direct control over the human resources they require for their projects. Resources are sometimes scarce so project managers do not have a choice who they have on their team. They must negotiate and influence appropriate functional line managers in their organisations for them to make the ressources available as and when required. They need to approach people, therefore, in a less direct manner and, it appears, with a softer approach to ask them, for example, to do something or to do something differently. Project managers do not generally have any responsibility for the training or personal development of their project team members. They need to coach or encourage team members by applying appropriate behaviours to try and close or improve some of these shortfalls as best as they can, to improve, for example, the competences of team members. They cannot tell team members to attend training courses whereas line managers can. The researcher considers that this unlinear position leaves project managers without the usual powers of a general manager. As a result, they need to adopt appropriate behaviours if they wish people in these temporary organisations to do well. They need to persuade or influence line managers, for example, to make ressources available during the various phases of the project. Therefore, they need to adopt effective social interaction skills to manage this situation.
The researcher suggests that tools and techniques and their applications, it appears, are important to the successful management of projects. Skills in working with people, on their own, do not make an effective project manager. The combination of both the social skills and the knowledge of tools and techniques does. The technical skills and knowledge of project management tools and techniques are essential ingredients of effective project management. The researcher acknowledges this in the context of this current research which is concerned with skills in working with people for project managers. This research limitation is discussed in Chapter 9. Project managers need to have skills in working with people and behaviours that help them to manage people well over whom they have no direct control, in the changing working environments and practices. This research is about the researcher's perception about the nature of the shortfall of what he perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in the past and what people skills project managers need to have in future,due to the changes in working practices that changed as a result of increases in pressure to achieve better results,and to develop a new competence and behaviour model that will provide the means to fill this shortfall (Chapter 2).
The researcher considers that the competence and behaviour model for new skills in working with people (Model 5) developed from this current research, may not necessarily work universally, for example in China, Russia or India, due to prevailing cultural differences. As such, the new competences and behaviours should not be seen as a panacea for the successful management of people in all projects, irrespective of their physical location. It appears that this is equally true to say, for example, for different companies due to differences in corporate cultures.
The application of the new competences and behaviours is not restricted to any particular project phase or activities associated with these. For example, effective communications are not limited to talks between the project manager and his team members but incorporate other forms of communications such as developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) or holding a Project Definition Workshop (PDW) or conducting risk assessments with both internal and external teams. The researcher acknowledges that there is a need to apply different communication approaches in different situations such as seeking information rather than telling people, and to encourage team members to make open and honest contributions by setting good examples.
1.2 The Purpose of the Research and its Aims and Objectives
It appears that the purpose of research often changes as the researcher continues with the study. This implies that there can be different purposes for carrying out research. It is important for researchers to know what the different types of research purposes are to help them, for example, to develop and formulate their research approaches and methods. Maxwell (1996, p.16) suggests that 'identifying your purposes is not something you can do when you begin the study and then forget about it. Some of these purposes may not become apparent to you until you are well into the research; in addition, they may change as the research proceeds'. He considers that there are two different purposes to carry out any research besides personal purposes. Practical purposes are focused on accomplishing something-meeting some need, changing some situations or achieving some goal. The researcher considers that the main purpose of this current research is about the researcher's perception about the nature of the shortfall of what he perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in the past and what people skills and associated behaviours project managers need to have in future. Changes in working practices created increases in pressure to achieve better results. The new competence and behaviour model developed by this current research will provide the means to fill this shortfall (Chapter 2).The researcher engaged the community of practice, for example, to gain new insights into what practitioners considered to be the skills of an effective people project manager, by asking questions such as 'Describe the qualities of a competent and effective people project manager' and 'Which are the most important skills in working with people project managers should have'? (Chapter 6). Research purposes are focused on understanding something, gaining some insight into what is going on and why this is happening. The additional related research contributions by authors such as Blackburn (2001, Huemann (2002) and Dainty, Cheng and Moore (2005) and Moore, Cheng and Dainty (2003) provided further insights to understand why this shortfall exists, by asking relevant questions such as 'What is currently known about this shortfall? and 'How can the literature/related research contribute to gain a better insight into what is going on'?
Maxwell (1996) suggests that these types of questions are not only potentially answerable, but they directly contribute to the practical purposes implied in the previous set of questions. The researcher has kept these distinct to underpin the research to advance its intended purposes. One advantage of the constructivist participative approach is that participants as well as non-participants in the research can benefit from the intended outcome of the research. They can put the considered skills in working with people and associated behaviours to good practice in their working environments, thus reaping immediate benefits from the outcome of this current research. Maxwell (1996) suggests that both of these kinds of purposes are legitimate parts of the research design. The researcher has thus considered the validity of these purposes for use in the research design of this thesis (discussed in more detail in Chapter 4), in full consideration where they are coming from and what their implications are for the research.
In summary, the main purposes of this current research are (to answer the research questions in Chapter 4 which are in no particular order of priority):
1 to report how some existing and new competence and behaviour skills in working with people such as emotional intelligence and leadership, based on the outcome of literature reviews of general and project management and other related research publications, have developed over the years and why they are now considered important, in their developed state, to the effective management of people in projects in the new working environments
2 To confirm the researcher's perception about the nature of the shortfall of what he perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in the past and what people skills project managers need to have in future, due to the changes in working practices as a result of increases in pressure to achieve better results
3 To develop a new competence and behaviour model that will provide the means to fill this shortfall, and that can be modified by project managers to suit different contexts (such as project type, project phase or cultural setting), in the context that their application, it appears, may be a necessary skill for project managers who need to choose appropriately how to behave for successful outcomes in each context
4 To suggest potential applications for the new competence and behaviour model, based on the significant contribution to the academic body of knowledge (theory) and the practitioner community (practice) this thesis has made
1.3 The Research Process
To fulfil the considered research purposes of this study outlined in the previous section and to make a valid and reliable contribution to knowledge for use both within the academic and practising communities, the researcher considered that a constructivist interpretivist research approach within a phenomenological research paradigm was appropriate, applicable and defendable for this research study, with the researcher acting as a participant observer (discussed in Chapter 4). This was influenced by drawing on some action research understanding of the cycles of change. Maxwell (1996) suggests quantitative and qualitative researchers tend to ask different kinds of causal questions. Quantitative researchers tend to be interested in whether and to what extent variance in X causes variance in Y. Qualitative researchers, on the other hand, tend to ask how X plays a role in causing Y, what the process is that connects X and Y. Maxwell (1996) considers that 'these research purposes, and the inductive, open-ended strategy that they require, give qualitative research an advantage in addressing three practical purposes' (Maxwell, 1996, p. 21):
1. Generating results and theories that are understandable and experientially credible, both to the people under study and to others
2. Conducting formative evaluations, ones that are intended to help improve existing practice rather than, for example, simply assess the value of the program or product being evaluated (Scriven, 1967, 1991)
3. Engaging in collaborative or action research with practitioners or research participants
1.4 The Research Scope
The scope of the research has encompassed project management practitioners from a number of industries in the United Kingdom such as Telecommunications and Construction. The APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006) guides have been selected as a basis for closing the shortcoming that is considered to exist, between skills in working with people project managers need to adopt in future to manage people effectively and the demands placed upon them by the changing working environments and practices. The rational thinking behind the selection of the APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006) as the body of knowledge on which this research is based is discussed in the literature review in Chapter 3.
In addition to the literature review and other research contributions as the collator of the primary research data (which was conducted to confirm that the shortfall referred to earlier exists), face to face interviews and a focus group meeting were conducted. The main scope of this was to collect secondary data to either support the findings from the primary data and to provide new or additional insights and empirical knowledge and evidence and to try and answer the main research questions. Triangulation was used to check the validity of the contributions from the individual data collection methods described earlier, with a view to arrive at valid and reliable empirical data, the strength of which both academics and practitioners can have confidence in. Details of the face to face interviews and focus group meetings are presented in Chapters 5 and 6 respectively. Chapter 8 presents the final version of the new competence and behaviour model (Model 5).
The research is worthwhile because:
- The literature review and the inputs from the related research contributions confirm that a shortfall exists between competences and behaviours in skills in working with people project managers need to adopt in relation to the demands placed upon them by the changes in working environments and practices
- The outcomes from the face to face interviews and the contributions from the related research suggest that project managers are now quite concerned about this, and they feel that the competences suggested, for example, by the APM Body of Knowledge (2000,2006) guide, are not adequate as a means to fill this shortfall
In this chapter, the researcher discussed the context of this current research, its main purpose, aims and objectives. The researcher outlined the research process and scope and presented an overview plan for the thesis. The next chapter describes the background to the study, looks at the definitions of competence, competency, competencies, attitude and behaviour and presents an overview of the skills in working with people from the APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006, Model 1) which acts as a starting point for this current research. Other management competence frameworks are presented together with a review of the links between the APM (2000, 2006), IPMA (1999) and PMI (2004) bodies of knowledge and the research work of Crawford (2000) in the area of competences and behaviours for project managers.
Chapter 2: Framework for Thesis
The purpose of this chapter is to present the framework for this thesis. The researcher discusses how he developed a new competence and behaviour model for skills in working with people (Model 5), for project managers, based on an existing model from the APM Body of Knowledge (2000,2006, Model 1,presented in Section 2.4).Other competence models are presented in Section 2.5. The researcher acknowledges the importance of competence, competency and competencies in the context of this thesis. These are discussed in Section 2.2. Section 2.3 discusses the considered related topic of whether a change in attitude leads to a change in behaviour.
Kliem and Ludin (1992) suggest that it is people who matter in projects and that project managers need to manage people effectively if their projects are to work well. They consider that the application of project management tools and techniques is of secondary importance. They consider, based on research, that, for example, building trust, respecting people for what they are and finding out what people's preferences are, are competences associated with effective people management. This shows a shift from the so-called hard skills (more concerned with the task) to soft skills (more concerned about the people). The people side of project management was still in its infancy despite the fact that the working environments and working practices had already changed considerably for some time. This was driven by many businesses who began to recognise the need to work differently to respond positively to the changing demands customers began to place on services. Project management developed into a premier solution for these businesses to achieve more work in less time with fewer resources. This disposition will be considered in more depth in Chapter 3.
Fisher (1999) developed the Kliem and Ludin (1992) concept further by suggesting that it is the project manager who, through the application of appropriate people skills, makes things happen through people (Fisher,1999, Figure 2.1).The researcher suggests in this model that the project manager is still responsible for the delivery of the project objectives to time, cost and quality, by applying appropriate project management tools and techniques but that project managers need to place greater emphasis on managing the people in their projects more effectively. This was based on some research conducted at Lancaster University in the late 1990s. The researcher conducted a literature review of project management books and journals. This was limited to publications up to 1998.The scope of this research was to establish whether project managers had a shortfall of skills in managing people in their projects, in these changing working environments and practices. The outcome from the literature review (theory) did not provide conclusive evidence that suggested that this shortfall exists. Therefore, the researcher considered that further data was required to confirm whether this shortfall existed. The researcher conducted a number of face to face interviews with the community of practice (practice) who provided further experienced-based relevant research data (Fisher, 1999).The researcher, as a participant observer, drew on his extensive practical knowledge and experience in managing projects (this role is discussed, for this current research, in Chapter 4). This further enriched the validity of the research data.
The conclusions drawn from this research suggested that the managing people side in project management was still not given the attention it should receive, and that as a result, many project managers still failed to deliver their projects successfully, and that this shortfall could be traced back to poor people management on their part. The researcher considered that project managers needed to become far more competent in working with people in their project teams. It is suggested in the model that project managers play a central and important role in the management of their team members. They are at the centre of projects. They need to adopt new and improved skills in working with people, made up of appropriate competences and behaviours, if they wish to deliver their projects successfully, through their people, in future.
The Kliem and Ludin (1992) model referred to earlier was considered adequate for the project working environments prevalent at the time of their research. They suggested that people were the most important ingredient in projects as it was through them that all project work was completed. Considering that they carried out their research during the early 1990s, this explained particular preferences at that time. Work environments and working practices (see Chapter 1) began to change considerably around the time when they completed their work. The model was no longer considered adequate for the needs of project management from the late 1990s onwards. Project managers were expected by their businesses to deliver their projects with greater emphasis on optimising existing resources, by reducing costs and pushing people harder to achieve more. Managers with appropriate skills in working with people were required to cope with the new work challenges.
Fisher (1999) developed the Kliem and Ludin (1992) model further. He considered that it was necessary for the main focus in project management to shift from the people side to that of the project manager. People were an essential ingredient in projects but project managers were the real driving force to make things happen by managing their team members well. Fisher (1999) compared the future role of project managers to that of a conductor in an orchestra, with the project manager being the focal point who brings together the knowledge and experience of all team members, for the greater good and benefit of the project. He suggests that there was a need for project managers to develop their people skills to achieve harmony in their teams, leading to improved people performances to deliver projects successfully, in line with the new business expectations placed upon project managers.
Fisher (1999) showed the value of placing the central focus on the project manager, clearly maintaining that people in projects have an important role to play in project management (Figure 2.1).The developed model encouraged the researcher to challenge the suggested skills in working with people, based on the APM Body of Knowledge (2000,2006) Section 7: People guide, and consider what existing and new skills in working with people and behaviours are required to meet the challenges of today's and tomorrow's working environments.. This guide is internationally recognised and accepted by practising project managers as a practical document that defines the broad range of knowledge that the discipline of project management encompasses, including people. Thus the main research question developed to identify what shortfall exists between skills in working with people and behaviours project managers need to have and the demands placed upon them by the changes that took place in the working environments and practices (Chapter 1).The researcher acknowledges that behaviours, it appears, do not change significantly over time but that project managers need to consider when and how to apply these depending on circumstances. For example, when attending project review meetings with Japanese project team members, they need to show open recognition for the titles participants hold such as doctor or engineer. This will not be necessary when conducting similar meetings with team members from the United Kingdom.
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Figure 2.1 Fisher’s (1999) Model of People in Projects
Other management competence models (Figure 2.2) exist in the area of skills in working with people. Research-based skills in working with people competence models were developed in the 1980s by Thornton and Byham (1982), Dulewicz (1989) and Boyatzis (1982) and the MCI research (1992,1997), for example. The work done in this area is relevant in the context of this thesis. The working environments and practices had not yet changed from hierarchical to matrix-type working (this happened much later, namely in the 1990s and beyond). The pressure was not yet on businesses to change the way they were delivering work and services, optimising economies of scale and getting the most out of their people. The outcome of the research by these pioneers influenced institutions and associations such as the PMI and the APM to develop and produce bodies of knowledge for their members, to share best current practice in a number of related areas within project management. By this time the pressure was actually on for project managers to deliver much more through their people.
In the United Kingdom, the Association for Project Management (APM) responded to the new business needs by producing a body of knowledge for their members.
The APM's Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006) purports to reflect widespread project management practice. It aims to be a document for the community of practice, not a theoretical reference. The currently listed competences essential for the effective management of people in projects is considered adequate by the APM for the purpose of general project management. The managing people side of project management (Section 7) needs to be improved to reflect the state of affairs of the new working environments and practices, and the impact these have on how project managers need to manage the people in their projects to meet the new challenges that lie ahead.
2.2 Definitions of Competence, Competency, Competencies, Attitudes and Behaviours
The researcher acknowledges that the concept of competence has many connotations in addition to its perceived and considered literal meaning such as personal effectiveness of skills (Schroder, 1989), encompassing knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that contribute to effective performance of a trait or job role (Crawford, 2003) and being an underlying characteristic of a person (Boyatzis, 1982).It appears that there is some confusion with regard to the use of terminology, and differing interpretations, regarding competence, competency and competencies. The researcher considers that it is appropriate in the context of this research to adopt a consistent and coherent single explanation as to what is meant by competence, competency and competencies, adopting the considerations by Moore, Cheng and Dainty (2002). They suggest that competence can be used to refer to areas of work at which the person is competent, the so-called areas of competence. The dimensions of behaviour that underpin a competent performance are referred to as person-related. They quote Woodruffe (1991) who recommends that the term competency should be used to describe these behaviours. They further suggest that the term competencies reflects the recognition of the level of competence for a professional, deriving from their possessing a number of relevant attributes such as knowledge, skills and attitudes, more commonly referred to as competencies. A competency, therefore, becomes a combination of relevant attributes that underlie aspects of successful professional performance. Working from this perspective, they suggest the following characteristics of the key terms:
- Competence-an area of work
- Competency-the behaviour (s) supporting an area of work
- Competencies-the attributes underpinning a behaviour
Competence and Competency
Boyatzis (1982) who carried out some extensive management research in the area of managerial competence and who is regarded as one of the pioneers of developing a management competence model, defines competence as an underlying characteristic of a person. It could be a motive, trait, skill, aspect of one's self-image or social role, or a body of knowledge which he or she uses. Boyatzis (1982) suggests that it is necessary to establish what aspects of the job need to be performed competently, and what people need to bring to the job in order to perform these aspects to the required level of competence. Therefore,' a competence is the set of behaviour patterns that the incumbent needs to bring to a position in order to perform its tasks and functions with competence' (Boyatzis, 1982, p.17).
Crawford (2000) considers that competence was once a simple term, with dictionary definitions such as 'power, ability or capacity (to do, for a task, etc.(Brown, 1993, p.459) and 'due qualification or capacity, adequacy or sufficiency' to do a task (Delbridge, 1985, p. 382).Crawford (2003,2005) suggests that generally, competence is accepted as encompassing knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that contribute to effective performance of a task or job role. In contrast, she defines competency as being a component of competence. Therefore, competency is any ingredient from which competence is made. Boyatzis (1982) considers that competence is the knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics that deliver superior performance. Crawford (2003, 2005) suggests that competence is not just knowledge, skills and personal characteristics but that associated behaviours that underpin these competences, then make up competence. She considers that competence has acquired new layers of meaning, through use for specific purposes, primarily in general and human resource management. It has come to mean different things to different people, for different purposes in different parts of the world. There is even confusion about differences in use of the terms competence and competency. According to Woodruffe (1991, p.16), competency 'seems to be used as an umbrella term to cover almost anything that might directly or indirectly affect job performance'. As Robotham and Jubb (1996, p.35) state, 'the concept of competence has different meanings, and it remains one of the most diffuse terms in the organizational and occupational literature'.
Crawford (2000, 2005) suggests that competence is defined as: Competence = Knowledge (qualifications) + Skills (ability to do a task). In keeping with this approach, employers, in selection and promotion, have looked for the right technical qualifications and a proven track record of doing the same job in a similar organisation. This doesn’t always work, for a number of reasons, including demand for such people may exceed supply, the new environment may differ from that which fostered past successes and there may be factors in the individual’s private life-health, family, other commitments which impact on performance. During the 1980s, a number of factors drove the search for a new way of selecting and developing human resources. Firstly, in a rapidly changing environment, a number of large-scale change programs had failed to deliver changed behaviours (Boam and Sparrow, 1992).At the same time, the link between business performance and the skills of employees was strengthening. Downsizing further highlighted the need to ensure that firms retained and employed people equipped to meet the changing demands of the marketplace (Holmes, 1995).
Crawford (2000, 2005) quotes the work of McClelland and McBer in the United States, beginning in the 1970s and reported by Boyatzis in the early 1980s (Boyatzis, 1982), established what she refers to as the Competency Model approach. Followers of this approach defined a competency as an 'underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion-referenced effective and/or superior performance in a job or situation' (Spencer and Spencer, 1993, p.9).Five competency characteristics were defined (Spencer and Spencer, 1993). Two of these competency characteristics are: knowledge, the information a person has in specific content areas and skill and the ability to perform a certain physical or mental task. These were considered to be surface competencies and the most readily developed and assessed through training and experience. To these surface competences were added three core personality characteristics, considered difficult to assess and develop. These were:
Motives: the things a person consistently thinks about or wants that cause action, for example, achievement motivated people consistently set challenging goals, take personal responsibility for accomplishing them and use feedback to do better.
Traits: Physical characteristics and consistent responses to situations or information,
for example, emotional self-control; initiative.Self-concept: a person’s attitudes, values or self-image. Therefore, the Competency Model approach defined competence as: Competence = Knowledge (qualifications) + Skills (ability to do a task) + Core Personality Characteristics (Motives + Traits + Self-Concept).This approach, which is the one still most widely understood and accepted in the United States, has been described (Heywood et al, 1992) as an attribute based approach to competence. According to this approach, competence can be inferred from an analysis of personal characteristics and knowledge that lead to behaviours and skills.
Inherent in the Competency Model approach, following in the tradition of McClelland (1973),
MCI (1992, 1997), Boyatzis (1982) and Spencer and Spencer (1993), is the concept of threshold and high performance of differentiating competencies. Threshold competencies are units of behaviour that are essential to do a job, but which are not causally related to superior job performance (Boyatzis, 1982). Boyatzis (1982, p.23) defines competencies 'as characteristics that are causally related to effective and/or superior performance in a job'. Fifteen years later, another American writer (Dalton, 1997, p.46) offers a similar view, describing competencies ‘as behaviours that distinguish effective performers from ineffective ones' thereby reinforcing the concept of differentiating competencies. Schroder (1989, p.67) takes a similar approach, defining a high performance competency as 'a relatively stable set of behaviours which produces significantly superior work group performance in more complex organizational environments'.
For this approach to be used effectively in selection, promotion and development, employers need to know what personal characteristics, knowledge, behaviours and skills are causally related to superior job performance. Even when research has identified desirable attributes
(Boyatzis, 1982; Spencer and Spencer, 1993), they may be difficult to assess. The validity of the assumption that the presence of such attributes will translate into competent performance in the workplace has also been questioned (Heywood et al. 1992). The Competency Model approach, most prevalent in the United States, but also used in numerous organisational competency development programs worldwide, sees competencies as inputs, consisting of clusters of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and in some cases personality traits, values and styles that affect an individual's ability to perform (Parry, 1996). Parry (1996, p.58) offers an extension to this definition: ’A competency is a cluster of related knowledge, attitudes and skills that affects a major part of one's job; that correlates with performance on the job; that can be measured against well-accepted standards; and that can be improved via training and development’. While the inclusion of a requirement for improvement by training and development is more typical of a trainer’s approach, this definition, which incorporates aspects of both the US and UK approaches to competence, provides a good link between Competency Model and Competency Standards approaches to competence.
Crawford (2000, 2005) suggests that, in the context of project management, the competency model, or attribute-based competency approach, has been most prevalent in the United States, while the competency standards, or demonstrable performance approach, has formed the basis for national qualifications frameworks in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Competency in the attribute-based competency approach is defined as an underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to effective and and/or superior performance in a job situation (Spencer and Spencer, 1993). The competency standards can be defined as those characteristics that are causally related to effective and/or superior performance in a job (Boyatzis, 1982). The competency model approach, used extensively as the basis for numerous corporate competency development programmes worldwide, sees competencies as clusters of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and in some cases, personality traits, values and styles that affect an individual's ability to perform. The impact this has on, for example, recruitment and the selection of project staff, is further discussed in Section 2.5.
These are important considerations and conclusions, based on the doctoral and other research work undertaken by Crawford (2000,2005) that are relevant to this thesis and the answering of the main research question. She considers that competences by themselves are not adequate for managing projects well. Behaviours (competency) that underpin the competences are of paramount importance. Without their application project managers will not be or become effective project managers. Bandura (1990, p. 315) considers that ‘Competence is not a fixed property that one does or does not have in one’s behavioural repertoire. Rather, it involves a generative capability in which cognitive, social and behavioural skills must be organised and effectively orchestrated to serve innumerable purposes’. Deverell (1973) suggests that competence is the ability to take others with you, for example through the art of persuasion. It is a perennial ability to learn and apply this learning. He suggests key managerial competences to be appearance, ability to get things done, judgement, creativity, personal integrity and sociability. He considers that people can be trained in social skills. No one will ever know everything about people. Much also depends on whether the trainee is sufficiently strongly motivated to raise his or her performance (Deverell, 1973, pages 72-73).
CIPD (2006) draws attention to the work of Boyatzis (1982) who had a considerable influence on the profession of competence and, over the following two decades, competency frameworks became an increasingly accepted part of modern HRM practice. They point out that originally competence frameworks consisted mainly of behavioural elements-an expression of the softer skills involved in effective performance. Increasingly, however, competence frameworks have become broader and more ambitious in scope and include more technical competences CIPD (2006) considers that an effective means of developing a competence framework is to adapt an existing model that has already been widely used and has been proven successful. They consider that a competency-based system is fairer and more open in respect of appraisal and recruitment systems, that there is a link between organisational and personal objectives and that the processes are measurable and standardised across organisational and geographical boundaries. They criticise the competence-based system in a number of ways: it can be over-elaborate and bureaucratic, it runs the risk of producing clones rather than a team with mixed skills who balance each other's strengths and weaknesses, they can become out of date due to the fast pace of change in organisations and it is difficult to strike the right balance between reviewing the competences often enough for them to remain relevant but not so often as to become confusing.
The researcher considers that project managers who are considering adopting the new managing competences considered by this research, need to change their attitude towards these if they wish to make these work for them. For example, if project managers show more open and genuine concern for other people, this change is overt and can be observed, and the outcomes can be compared to the behaviour these project managers displayed before the change. It is also possible to obtain direct feedback from people to validate this claim by demonstrating the behaviour before and after the change of attitude. It is then possible to carry out some further research to validate, for example, the claim that changes in attitude have actually led to changes in behaviour. This is an important consideration in the context of this thesis. The knowledge that managerial competences exist, by themselves, is not adequate to improve managers' abilities to manage their people well. Managers who display a positive attitude towards, for example, wishing to improve their people management skills, are more likely to achieve their goals. The researcher suggests that the application and adoption of competences do not necessarily work by themselves. They are more likely to be effective when appropriate behaviours are applied that strengthen the competences. It is, therefore, considered appropriate to describe in this section briefly what is meant by attitude and behaviour in the context of this thesis. Section 2.3 considers if a change in attitude leads to a change in behaviour.
Allport (1935) considers that attitudes help people to understand the world around them, protect their self-esteem, help them adjust in a complex world and allow them to express their fundamental values (the things that are important to them). He suggests that people can only have an attitude towards a concept that is understood. This view was validated by Katz (1960) who suggests that people tend to act consistently towards an object, for example, if people show respect towards a person, they also are likely to support/follow this person in areas such as political support, invite to dinner, and so on. Their attitude towards this person is thus associated with other similar related social areas. Ivancevich and Matteson (1992) suggest that attitudes are determinants of behaviour because they are linked to perception, personality and motivation. An attitude is a mental state of readiness, learned and organised through experience, exerting a specific influence on a person's response to people, objects and situations with which it is related. People have attitudes on numerous topics such as restaurants, politics, sports and friends. The definition of attitude has certain implications for managers: attitudes are learned, define one's predisposition towards given aspects of the world, provide the emotional basis of one's interpersonal relations and identification with others and are organised and close to the core of personality. The behavioural component of an attitude refers to the tendency of a person to act in a certain way towards someone or something. From a managerial perspective, understanding employee attitudes and the cognitions and affect that help shape those attitudes, is important in predicting behaviour and in modifying attitudes.
Kiesler, Collins and Miller (1969) consider, in the early years, that behaviour is a function of attitudes, norms, habits and expectancies about reinforcement. Attitudes alone do not predict behaviour. Attitudes together with norms and habits do. Reber (1995) considers that behaviour is a generic term covering acts, activities, responses, reactions, movements, processes, operations and so on, in short, any measurable response of an organism. There has been a long and agonising tradition of attempting to put some set of coherent limits on the boundaries of denotation of this term. The problem has been that as the range of phenomena included within the domain of psychology has increased, there has been a need to expand the boundaries of what can be legitimately called behaviour.
Davenport (1999) suggests that human capital comprises all the intangible assets that people bring to their jobs. It's the currency of work, the specie that workers trade for financial and other rewards. It consists of knowledge (command of a body of facts); skill (facility, developed through practice, with the means of carrying out a task); talent (inborn facility for performing a task) and behaviour (observable ways of acting that contribute to accomplishing a task. In the context of this current research, this thesis is limited to develop a new competence and behaviour model for skills in working with people, for project managers. Section 2.3 considers if a change in attitude leads to a change in behaviour.
2.3 Does a Change in Attitude lead to a Change in Behaviour?
As early as the 1970s, Thomas (1971) completed a number of studies to identify whether there is a direct link between a change in attitude and a change in behaviour. He identified attitude as most- popular conceptions including cognitive and behavioural components. This represents a residue of experience; cognitive and affective, of the social object in question. In this respect he considers that attitude is a hidden mechanism that directs behaviour. The development and the outcome of an attitude determine specific behaviours. These are also affected by specified situational factors. Together, these make up the attitudinal reaction that leads to specific behaviour. Some theorists such as Honey (1988, 2001) and Gillen (2002) consider, for attitudes, that these are determinants of behaviour.
In contrast, Beer, Eisenstat and Spector (1990) suggest that there is a consistency (one follows the other as a matter of course) rather than a causal relationship between attitudes and behaviour (one causes the other to happen). Their theory states that changes in attitude lead to changes in behaviour. According to this model, change is like a conversion experience. Once people get religion, changes in their behaviour will surely follow. Beer, Eisenstat and Spector (1990) believe that this theory gets the change process exactly backwards: ‘In fact, individual behaviour is powerfully shaped by the organizational roles people play. The most effective way to change behaviour, therefore, is to put people into a new organizational context, which imposes new roles, responsibilities and relationships on them. This creates a situation that in a sense ‘forces’ new attitudes and behaviour on people’ (Beer, Eisenstat and Spector, 1990).
Myers (1995) reports that many studies during the 1960s (Wicker, 1971) challenge the idea that changes in attitudes lead to changes in behaviour. Moreover, studies of people's attitudes and behaviours regarding cheating, the Church and racial minorities revealed that folks often talk and act a different game. Many follow-up studies were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s (Kraus, 1991) which reveal that attitudes will guide actions if the following conditions are met: outside influences on what is said and done are minimal, the attitude is specifically relevant to the behaviour and people are keenly aware of their attitudes. Under these circumstances, people will stand up for what they believe. Attitudes will affect behaviour. Do actions affect behaviour? Myers (1995) suggests that there are possible conditions under which people's actions will affect their behaviour. The first one is generally known as the foot-in-the-door phenomenon, a tendency for people to agree to a small request to comply later with a larger one. People adjust their beliefs towards consistency with their public acts (observed behaviour). A trifling act makes the next step easier. This enables behaviour to escalate. The second one is known as role playing. For example, people who join the armed forces, are expected to adopt a cluster of prescribed actions. Both the obedient new recruit and the abusive sergeant may have consciously adopted the behaviours expected of them but in time they may become the characters they are playing. Before long the behaviour does not feel forced any more. What began as play acting becomes them. Thus, behaviour affects attitude. What people do, they gradually become.
Is it possible to predict future behaviour, if people know an individual's attitude? Research carried out by La Piere (1934) suggests the answer is no. It seems that people do not always behave in a way that is true to their beliefs. What people say and what they do may be different. Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) suggest that behaviour may be more accurately predicted if people know about a person's intentions with respect to behaving in a particular way. This is the basic idea behind their theory of reasoned action which takes into account normative beliefs about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and attitudes towards the behaviour.
The attitudes-follow-behaviour principle has some implications for project managers. Although they cannot directly control all their feelings, they can influence them by altering their behaviour. If project managers are more task-focused than people oriented, they can become more people focused by behaving as if they were-by showing respect for others, actively listening or recognising what is important to others. It is common to assume that attitudes influence behaviour, and that, therefore, a change in attitude automatically leads to a change in behaviour. There is a link between attitudes and behaviour but only under certain circumstances. More research may be required to shed further light on the question whether changes in attitude lead to changes in behaviour.
The changes in business environments (Chapter 1) must be reflected in the competences and behaviours project managers need to display to cope with and effectively manage these continuous business changes. It is, therefore, suggested to improve the existing APM Body of Knowledge model, Section 7: People (APM, 2000, 2006).The researcher considered other competence and behaviour models of the much bigger project management associations and institutes such as the IPMA or the PMI but suggests that the APM BoK (2000,2006) model is more appropriate for this current research. It contains substantial inputs from the community of practice which is based on extensive personal experiences of practising project managers. In addition, Professor Peter Morris who carried out some research recently on behalf of the APM that led to the publication of their updated fifth edition of the Body of Knowledge, combined theory and practice to strengthen the validity of this model. It shares the current contemporary thinking of what constitutes, it appears, best practice in project management and considers the competences and some behavioural characteristics of what makes a good and effective people project manager (APM BoK, 2000, 2006,Section 7: People and the profession).It appears that the number of other project frameworks suggests that the APM model might be inappropriate in its current form.
2.4 Overview of APM BoK (2000, 2006) Competence Model 1
The researcher considers that it is important to provide an overview of the current skills in working with people for project managers, on which this research is based, that the APM considers desirable for project managers to have to manage the people in their projects effectively. It provides appropriate background information on the context of this current research. The APM suggests that the body of knowledge represents the topics in which practitioners and experts consider professionals in project management should be knowledgeable and competent (APM, 2000, 2006).These are described at a high level of generality only. It is considered by the researcher that a new model needs to be developed that shows new and improved skills in working with people (the what) and appropriate behaviours (the how). Competences in themselves do not turn project managers into good people managers. The knowledge of such competences is not adequate for the purpose of becoming better, for example, at managing others well. It is the application of associated behaviours that the researcher considers is important to being or becoming competent at something. The APM (2000, 2006) in the United Kingdom has invested considerable time and effort to develop their body of knowledge for project management in such a way that practising project managers can adopt a broad range of knowledge that the discipline of project management encompasses. It suggests a number of competences relating to skills in working with people and some generic behavioural characteristics which are not directly associated with the corresponding competences (Model 1).The researcher considers that this is a weakness of this model. The guide does not suggest appropriate combinations of competences and associated behaviours that project managers should apply to manage the people in their projects effectively. Instead it suggests that to be successful as a project management practitioner, project managers require a combination of the right knowledge (allied to personal experience) and attitude (or behaviour).The researcher considers that this is not sufficient. The application of appropriate behaviours is important to the effective application of the considered competences. Competences on their own will not be adequate, it appears, to close the shortfall of what the researcher perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in in the past and what people skills and associated behaviours project managers need to have in future, due to the changes in working practices that changed as a result of increases in pressure to achieve better results, and to develop a new competence and behaviour model that will provide the means to fill this shortfall (Chapter 2).
The researcher will present updates of Model 1 (Chapter 3) by drawing on the contributions from various research methods such as the literature review (Chapter 3, Model 2), Face to Face interviews (Chapter 5, Model 3), a focus group meeting (Chapter 6, Model 4) and the outcomes from a meeting with the original community of practice focus group (Chapter 7, Model 5. The concept of data analysis and triangulation are discussed in Chapter 4.
The literature review of this thesis (Chapter 3) will confirm whether a shortfall exists between skills in working with people and behaviours project managers apply today, and the skills in working with people they need to apply in future to meet the changing demands placed upon them by their companies. The current structure and content of the APM Body of Knowledge, Section 7: People (2000, 2006) will be reviewed and critiqued in Chapter 3.
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Model 1 Competence and Behaviour Model 1: APM BoK (2000, 2006)
2.5 Other Frameworks
Other competence frameworks were available prior to the availability of general frameworks considered in the next section. This provides some valuable background perspectives on the research of this thesis. Each of these suggests a number of competences managers should hold or adopt to be an effective manager. It is interesting to note that although hierarchical working methods were still in place within companies at that time, there is some evidence that suggests that the need for developing the managing people competences for managers was already recognised by those involved in the research, it appears, as becoming important for the future, in anticipation that working practices were beginning to change. Figure 2.2 summarises the three frameworks developed through research and face to face interviews by Thornton & Byham (1982, Dulewicz (1989) and the McBer and MCI research reported by Boyatzis (1982), and some of the key competences revealed by the outcomes from their respective research.
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Figure 2.2 Other Competence Frameworks
Crawford (2000) suggests that based on the outcomes of her research, there is value in developing and maintaining competence frameworks, provided that these are updated on a regular basis to ensure they maintain their value and reflect the latest considered thinking in this area. Boak (1991) suggests that a generic competence model has advantages. Individuals who possess a range of generic competences would be able to manage in a variety of situations. Competences in the model could serve as the basis for all management development. It is cost-effective. There is no need to analyse the competences required of any particular job. Appropriately designed frameworks will identify competences that can be applied universally, giving due concern to geography and prevailing cultures. He also considers that such a model is not accurate in every given situation. It ignores the specific demands of particular jobs. The researcher supports this view. The danger of a generic model is that it directs too much towards desired competences, without assessing first which competences are desirable, depending on the requirements of the job. Are people making competences fit the job for the sake of it or because it is convenient? It is more important to have a flexible competence framework that allows project managers to meet the changing requirements of today’s and tomorrow’s business environments. Any such framework must be emergent so that new competences can be easily added without the need to re-write or reconstruct the whole framework. Generic competences should be used as a guideline without placing too much emphasis on their absoluteness-they are not a panacea in every situation, in every company.‘ All skills have a knowledge component. This may be an element of theory or guidance on how to behave or what to aim to achieve, which might be gleaned from books or gained from discussion with others. It may also consist of feedback about one’s current level of skills, and priority areas for improvement. A questionnaire or a logging approach can provide a method of gathering and organising this information ’(Boak, 1991, p. 47).
Boak (1991) considers competences in two different ways:
- Competences as skills, anchored to descriptions of behaviour
- Competence standards, defining and describing what a manager is expected to produce
Some people reject the competence approach such as Iain Mangham, a research fellow at Bath University who is particularly associated with such criticism. His view is that the person's fit within the culture of the organisation is not taken into account. He argues that competence models are trying to create an idiosyncratic manager. He claims that a manager who is competent in one organisational culture, does not necessarily fit into the culture of a different organisation. This does not alter the fact that managers with one set of competences are not going to be competent with these in a different job environment. There is more to being a good manager than just a set of competences. In turn, competences are all part of the recipe of being a competent manager. Cockerill (1989) has argued against the use of standardised competences. He sees competences as being dependent on the context of a particular organisation. This is in direct contrast to the view Thorpe and Holman (1993) have who advocate the need to classify and determine training needs for students and managers in relation to acquiring relevant managerial competences, using a positivist method to do so.
The researcher considers that competence models are a valuable tool for assessing, for example, how well people live up to the expected levels of performance against set competence criteria such as leading others, communications and team building. In addition, and to ensure that candidates fit in with the culture of particular companies, competence/competency-based interviewing, role model playing and case study exercises can provide additional information relating to their future behaviours. HRM managers can thus decide whether these candidates meet the organisational fit of their companies. The researcher holds the view that many competences are generic and fit any company's culture such as leading others, managing conflict and influencing people. As such, they are not dependent on the context of a particular organisation. As discussed in Chapter 1, organisations such as British Telecom, Vodafone, Orange and O2, are changing their working environments and practices to meet the constant challenges they are faced with, through increases in demand from their customers and Senior Management, for example, for higher quality goods and services. This suggests that competence models need to be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure they are still relevant to the organisation. Competence models can add real value by looking to the future. They should not be based in the past. People must get the best estimate of the future and what it will require of people, and ensure that model is kept under review. Using a system that is based on the past, risks the possibility of missing the changes required by the changing organisations around it. Any model should thus be flexible and able to adopt new competences. This provides some level of confidence to an organisation that they can match the right candidates to the right job within the cultural fit of their company.
The study of some other competence frameworks was worthwhile. It provided some insights into the background of how competence frameworks developed, and the value the knowledge from the past has had on the present and future competence assessment models for project management.HRM needs to play a far more proactive role in future to support project managers and project-based organisations to identify and develop appropriate skills in managing people, for project managers. Although this research does not cover HRM, it is worthwhile considering some of the related aspects of HRM for the future of project management in the changing working environments of today and tomorrow. This will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 8.
2.6 Review of Links: APM (2000, 2006), IPMA (1999), PMI (2004) and Crawford (2000)
Knowledge is very important to human beings. It holds a core position in people's individual lives. There are many different kinds of knowledge. Some can be communicated in words and diagrams and others are best suited to be shown. The important point here is that knowing this will help people to achieve what they want. One way of trying to show what people know, is to find evidence for this knowledge. This means that knowledge needs support by evidence. It is a central assumption of this thesis that project management bodies of knowledge or guides not only suggest skills in working with people (the what) but that they must consider the associated behaviours (the how).
It is appropriate to consider what the links are between the APM (2000, 2006), IPMA (1999) and PMI (2004) bodies of knowledge/guides and the research conducted by Crawford (2000), and report the findings to provide some further supportive evidence why project managers should feel confident about adopting the new and improved skills in working with people and behaviours considered by this research. The APM (2000,2006) reports on the state of professional opinion both inside and outside of the United Kingdom. It seems reasonable to argue that the suggested competences can be universally applied. The inputs are a combination of knowledge from those who practise project management and the outcome of some academic research. The PMI (2004) approach to skills in working with people is more closely linked to that of the APM. It is primarily concerned with identifying and describing competences that are applicable to most projects most of the time and probably explains why the PMI's Body of Knowledge is a de facto global standard.
The work of the IPMA (1999) has been primarily concerned with developing a project management competences baseline as a basis for the certification of project managers. Although the emphasis is more on defining standards of excellence to reach the level of certified project managers, it considers, just like the APM, what the competences are associated with the knowledge of a project management professional. The IPMA thus takes the desired level of competence much further than the APM (generic approach). Crawford's work (2000) is more closely linked to that of the IPMA (more concerned with competency standards for project management), using statistical analysis drawn from a sample of 352 project personnel from three countries (Australia, United Kingdom and United States).
Crawford (2000) explores the relationship between performance against competency standards and perceived effectiveness of project management performance in the workplace. She reports that patterns of both positive and negative relationships between performance against parts of the standards and perceptions of workplace performance are evident. She queries the value of the standards in assessing and developing project management competence. There is a difference in approach between the two schools of thought (APM &PMI and IPMA & Crawford). Bodies of knowledge such as the APM and the PMI use their respective body of knowledge for their various professional development programmes. The IPMA considers that project managers need to demonstrate that they are competent in a number of project management disciplines such as managing people and leading others. Crawford (2000) suggests that, based on the outcomes of her research, the value of project management standards needs to be reviewed on a regular basis to improve their validity, reliability and usefulness. In practical terms this means that all standards should be reviewed regularly. This supports the consideration of the researcher that the APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006) Section: 7 People needs to be reviewed to find new and improved skills in working with people and associated behaviours for project managers, to close the shortfall identified by the literature review of this thesis.
Chapter 3: Literature Reviews
The purpose of this chapter is to report on the outcomes of the literature reviews for the general and project management publications and other related research contributions, and to confirm whether a shortfall exists between what the researcher perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in the past and what people skills project managers need to have in future, due to the changes in working practices that changed as a result of increases in pressure to achieve better results, and to develop a new competence and behaviour model that will provide the means to fill this shortfall (final version is presented in Chapter 8).
It is useful at this point to put the literature review in context to reflect on the fact that project management has been around since the beginning of time (Chapter 1). The Pyramids of Egypt are just one example of good and effective project management through planning and execution to construct these (Morris, 1994). During the 1960s, business managers began searching for new techniques and organisational structures that would help them adapt quickly to changing environments (Fayol, 1949; Davis, 1951; Fisch, 1961 and Ansoff,1957).In the 1970s and 1980s more data was published on project management (Stallworthy and Kharbanda, 1983; Andersen, Grude and Haug, 1984; Deming, 1986 and Kerzner, 1987), leading to the development of theories, methods and standards. According to Turner (1993), the 1960s were years of mass production and high production rates were achieved but at the expense of quality. During the 1970s, companies strove more for quality by imposing uniformity, and by restricting their product range. In the 1980s the emphasis shifted to variety. Flexible manufacturing systems were introduced.
In the 1990s, customers wanted novelty (Gareis, 2005; Turner, 2003). Product development times and market windows were shrinking. To respond to these changes, companies had to adopt more flexible working structures to respond to these changing environments. One such approach has been the adoption of a project management methodology to achieve the company objectives in a timely manner. It was not until the 1990s that industries in both the profit and non-profit sectors came to realise that they needed to formally adopt project management in order to be able to deliver their large-scale activities successfully. Cleland (1994) argues that the evolution of project management parallels the development of the project-oriented literature. By 1992 a substantial amount of literature on project management had developed, principally prepared by practitioners who were immersed in ongoing projects and anxious to tell their stories about the new management concept of project management, which seemed to contradict many of the established ways of managing activities.
Keegan and Turner (2003, p.7) consider that 'There is a shift from viewing careers in terms of promotion and subordinates to viewing careers as continuous processes of learning and successful completion of projects. The company concentrates on training and development practices to meet the new needs that arise in a changing world. For that reason, team building and coaching are an integral part of training employees to manage new career demands. Project managers are learning that the goal is not to manage subordinates but to lead experts and technical specialists in knowledge work'. They suggest that Human Resource Management (HRM) needs to take a far more proactive and supportive role to recruit the right and skilled project managers into today's project-oriented companies. The development of deeper research is required to gain a better understanding of these firms and people management practices in them.
Project-based management (Turner, 1993) has become the new general management through which organisations respond to change, develop and exploit markets ahead of their competitors. Project management is a skill that managers, according to Sharad (1986), Turner (1993) and Gareis (1990), need to consider to have in their portfolio, alongside with a structured methodology. In the years since the 1990s project management has developed into a premier solution, based on research by Turner (1993) to manage business operations in many companies across the globe. Large and small organisations have recognised that a structured approach to planning and controlling projects is a necessary core competency for success. Richman (2002) considers that the task of management is eased when work can be set up in projects. The assignment of duties is sharpened, control is simplified, and the people who do the work can observe and measure their accomplishment against agreed project plans.
In contrast, Alvesson and Deetz (2000, p.146) consider that 'concepts developed by the academic community need not be privileged to give voice to concerns and understandings which have not been expressed in everyday contexts, and such concepts can be generative, thus questioning and reconstituting social experience (Gergen, 1982 and Giddens, 1979). To fulfil this function, our concepts must be recovered from operational and textbook definitions and re-connected to ways of seeing and thinking about the world. In the dialectics of the situation and the talk of individuals with different perspectives, the emergence of new ways of talking becomes possible'. Alvesson and Deetz (2000) suggest that critical researchers interact with research subjects and use methods (use of documents and statistics, interpretation of material artefacts) much like other researchers. The critical researcher interviews and makes observations, and writes field notes similar to other qualitative researchers. Thus critical research pays attention to situations, relations, events institutions, ideas social practices and processes. It is important in this context that the researcher does not take for granted what is viewed in this way. This calls for investigation. These qualities need to be established. They suggest that researchers need to listen carefully to research participants during interviews so that they gain, for example, a general understanding of the focused social reality, identify significant themes, understand the nature of the phenomena in which the researcher has a particular interest and making sense of the empirical material.
Hodgson and Cicmil (2006) question the validity of project management bodies of knowledge such as the PMI's PM BOK (2000) and the existence of projects per se. They suggest that 'While it is interesting and perhaps thought-provoking to consider the ways in which the PM BOK as document attempts to establish standards and an infrastructure for an increasingly popular sub-topic of management, this would be of little more than idle interest were it not for the powerful material consequences of such entities' (Hodgson and Cicmil, 2006, p. 45). They consider that references made, for example, to the existence of pyramids as evidence of the universal importance of projects, are serious, as they invoke an a-historical representation of pre historical work organisations and the contemporary techniques and technologies associated with the discipline of project management. They suggest that these appear to act as catalysts to the contemporary formulations of what project management is, including its principles and techniques. This, it appears, shows project management as being universal and timeless and thus encourages uniform and universal systems of project governance. They agree that this hinders debate over the specific nature of project management techniques and practices in the discipline because they appear to be black-boxed, with no room to manoeuvre. Definitions, techniques and procedures become set in stone. This removes the possibilities of challenging this black-boxed knowledge. They further argue (quoting Townley, 2002) that the establishment of universal knowledge of this kind implies a loss of a reflexive and embodied rationality in favour of abstract principles and blind faith in universal techniques. They question the ontological foundations of the nature of a project, drawing on perspectives which would instead see the project as a constructed entity which tends to evolve, in practice, into a system of rules with centralised control and co-ordination, with powerful and often unrecognised consequences for the governance of what academics and practitioners label as projects in contemporary organisations. The researcher acknowledges the concerns of Hodgson and Cicmil (2006) regarding the validity of knowledge contained in project management bodies of knowledge such as the PMI's BOK (2000). The researcher suggests that the constructivist interpretivist research approach of this thesis attempts to address these concerns (Chapter 4).
Crawford (2000), based on research as part of her doctoral thesis, suggests that during the 1980s a number of factors drove the search for a new way of selecting and developing human resources. Firstly, in a rapidly changing environment, a number of large-scale change programmes had failed to deliver changed behaviours (Boam and Sparrow, 1992). At the same time, the link between business performance and the skills of employees was strengthening. Downsizing further highlighted the need to ensure that firms retained and employed people equipped to meet the changing demands of the marketplace (Holmes, 1995). Many organisations, such as British Telecom and Vodafone in the United Kingdom, from the 1990s onwards, changed their organisational structures to reflect this new desirable way of working (Chapter 1). Managerial hierarchies disappeared and were replaced with matrix-type working principles. This fundamental change of working practices brought with it a need for new skills in working with people and associated behaviours. There was a sudden increase in the awareness of the notion that nothing goes without people. The emphasis changed from being task oriented to being people focused. This was perhaps the beginning of a recognition that effective project managers need to have appropriate skills in working with people and associated behaviours to deliver their projects in the changing work environments.
Fisher (1999) suggests that, as a result of the changes in working practices, different competences relating to the management of people are required to meet the new challenges of the working environments. He considers that people tend to have a pattern of behaviour that they display with particular kinds of people and situations. These patterns of behaviour have taken many years to form, and are habitual. Most of the time the habitual way people behave with particular types of people or situations will be effective in allowing them to achieve what they want. Sometimes, however, the behaviour people display towards others will not make them effective with that individual or in that situation. He suggests that understanding more about people’s patterns of behaviour can help managers to identify situations or individuals where changes in behaviour are desired to improve working relationships with others.
It is not just the understanding of patterns of behaviour or the application of emotions, for example, that can help managers to become better at managing others. Fisher (2003) suggests that the interrelated association with meeting what others require is fundamental to building a good personal relationship with others in a timely manner, by talking about and exchanging each other's thoughts, ideas and feelings, and by managing any emotional conflict well that relates to people’s feelings. When feelings are ignored, people are not as committed to do things as they could be, they are not highly motivated and they have a tendency not to be genuinely interested in their work.
Fisher (2004) considers that where there are people, there are emotions, feelings and associated behaviours. Project managers must identify these emotions, feelings and associated behaviours, understand them and then manage these accordingly if they wish to mange the people in their projects effectively. It appears that, influenced by the changes in working environments and practices, organisations such as the Association for Project Management (APM), the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) responded. They recognised and addressed the need to provide their professional members with guidelines on how to manage projects effectively. This included guidelines on how to manage people in projects (the so-called soft skills). Figure 3.1 shows a brief summary of the main skills in working with people each of these bodies considers desirable for project managers to have to be competent.
APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006):
Personnel Management (HRM)
Learning and Developments
Professionalism and Ethics
The APM (Association for Project Management) has a Body of Knowledge, first published in 1992, then updated in 1996, 2000 and 2006 Forty key areas were identified in which the APM considered people involved in project management should have both knowledge and experience. The eight principal personality characteristics that a certified project manager should display were adapted from the APM Body of Knowledge (1996) for inclusion in the ICB (1999).The fourth and fifth editions of the APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006) were based on research, co-sponsored by the APM and conducted at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology's (UMIST) Centre for Research into the Management of Projects (CRMP), under the direction of Professor Peter Morris.
IPMA ICB (1999):
Conflicts and Crises
Negotiations and Meetings
The IPMA (International Project Management Association) has developed the ICB (IPMA Competence Baseline) to provide a basis for certification of project managers. It defines the PM Body of Knowledge) “...as an inclusive term that has grown up to describe the commonly accepted knowledge within the profession of project management. It includes knowledge expected from a project management professional of practices, skills, functions, processes, tools, techniques and tasks that are commonly used in project management, as well as specialised knowledge, where appropriate, of innovative and advanced practices used in more limited situations (IPMA, 1999, p.9).
PMI Guide (2004):
This Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge has been well received, The purpose of the PMI's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI, 1999) is to identify and describe that subset of the PMBoK which is generally accepted. Generally accepted means that the knowledge and practices described are applicable to most projects most of the time, and that there is widespread consensus about their value and usefulness. It is a living document, subject to ongoing review. internationally, and has maintained its status of a de facto global standard.
Figure 3.1 Skills in working with people: APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006),IPMA ICB (1999) and IPM Guide (2004)
The researcher acknowledges that there are other bodies of knowledge in countries such as Australia and Japan but considers that the contributions from the APM Body of Knowledge in the United Kingdom are more relevant to this current research than, for example, contributions from its larger counterparts such as PMI and IPMA (both are based on the contributions from the APM BoK, 2000, 2006), or those from Australia and Japan. He considers that there are fundamental differences in expectations people have from bodies of knowledge due to cultural differences that exist such as values, beliefs and personal constructs people hold. This impacts on how, for example, project managers work and manage their people. What works in one cultural environment, does not necessarily work in another setting as a matter of course. For example, autocratic behaviours may work well in a country such as China (hierarchical working) but will not work well in a country such as Holland (consensus reaching).There are different expectations, it appears, people from the West, East or the Pacific rim countries place on bodies of knowledge. One size does not fit all in all environments and prevailing local conditions.
The researcher is more familiar with current project management practices in the United Kingdom, being a member of the community of practice in that country. He considered to focus on the field he knows best and is a participant in. It was, therefore, more appropriate for him to report on the contributions from the APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006) from the United Kingdom, in the context of this current research.
The authors of bodies of knowledge stipulate that each body of knowledge acts as a guideline only for practising project managers and is not a panacea for the successful delivery of every project if followed to the latter. Morris (2000) suggests that the PMBoK Guide (PMI) does not cover all the factors that must be managed to deliver projects successfully. The authors of the PMBoK Guide responded by pointing to the disclaimers, printed in the Guide, that the Guide is not intended to be either comprehensive or all-inclusive, but to present that sub-set of the PMBoK which is generally accepted (PMI, 1999). Morris (2000) further suggests that people matters are not adequately covered in the PMBoK Guide. This Guide devotes an entire unit to Human Resource Management and another to communication which is included under People in the APM Body of Knowledge. This provides an illustration of an underlying difference between the PMBoK Guide and its IPMA and APM counterparts (Crawford, 2000).
Morris (1997, 1999, 2000) considers that the scope of the APM Body of Knowledge incorporates not only inward focused project management topics such as planning and control tools and techniques, but also those broader topics essential to the effective management of projects. Although the topics are described at a high level of generality, he points out that practice and research show these all have a significant influence on the likelihood of the project being conducted successfully. Managing issues relating to people who work on projects is one integral part of the APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006).
This fourth edition clearly defines that it is a practical document, defining the broad range of knowledge that the discipline of project management encompasses. The importance of this research is that it carries out an independent survey of the practice of project management in relation to the elements of knowledge that project management professionals, in a range of industries, feel they need.
Competences change as people learn more about these and apply them in their day-to-day work situations. People competences are phenomenological. They help people to understand what they need to do to manage the people in their working life well. They tell people what behaviours they need to apply to do so. This knowledge is no panacea to know everything there is to know about people competences. It acts as a guideline to encourage people to seek more knowledge about people competences.
The literature review stretches over three consecutive time frames and covers both managerial and project management publications (Pre-1990s, 1990 to 2000, and 2001 to 2006).These time divisions are important. Managerial competences evolved slowly over the early years (Maslow, 1954; Likert and Hayes, 1957 and McGregor, 1967) when hierarchical ways of working were still the order of the day and the people side of management was considered less important (Fayol, 1949). This changed quite rapidly from the early 1980s onwards when businesses changed their modus operandi to more matrix-type working environments (Turner, 1993; Peters and Waterman, 1982; Boak, 1991 and Harvey-Jones, 1994).The focus was now on delivering more with fewer resources in faster time-scales. This, in turn, required managers to consider new skills in working with people, associated behaviours and working processes to respond to these challenges effectively.
An understanding of the pioneering work to develop managerial competences during the early management years provides valuable insights of the link between working practices and associated managerial competences and the emerging widening shortfall that exists now. This is further strengthened by the outcomes from the literature reviews of more recent publications which also suggests that more books and journals have been written about managerial competences in the last two decades than ever before during a similar time frame. This explains why the literature review of the more recent publications and other related research contributions confirm the researcher's perception about the nature of the shortfall of what he perceives used to be considered appropriate skills in working with people project managers applied in in the past and what people skills project managers need to have in future, due to the changes in working practices that changed as a result of increases in pressure to achieve expected results.
3.2 The Nature of a General and Project Management Literature Review
It is usually not possible to get to this point in the research without considering the many theories, beliefs, prejudices and emotions that are already in existence. Latour (1987, p.31) suggests that it is therefore advisable to inform oneself beforehand what others within a given community of practice or theory have already reported. The relevance of a text to the research depends on the strength of the evidence of the contribution. This, in turn, depends on who has made the statement, what else s/he has published, where s/he works and which journal or other medium carried the message and who has read it and cited it. Latour (1987) also points out that references made of the work of others strengthen any text, even if the evaluation is by quantity more than quality.
Hart (1998, 2003) defines a literature review as: ‘The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a certain standpoint to fulfil certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed. ’This definition allows the researcher room to manoeuvre as every researcher will have their own points of view. The differing views of the community in which the research is carried out, is equally important. It is possible to consider the differing aims and views on the purpose of the research. Differing approaches to the research can be applied without affecting the end product of the research (thesis). The outcomes of the research can be disseminated to a wider audience. This is important because the purpose of research is to contribute in some way to people's understanding of the world, and to make a positive contribution to existing knowledge. This gives people an initial understanding of what the role of the literature review is and where it fits into the thesis.
Researchers need to consider more than one approach to be able to evaluate more of what is already known about the subject matter of the research. In the past, they have been looking for shortfalls and inconsistencies in the available literature. This led to the formulation of hypotheses concerning areas that require new or further research, by safe and established means. To balance this practical approach, it is suggested by research practitioners that academic research approaches such as constructivist interpretivist should be engaged to 'use pre-existing theories only to illuminate particular points or to substantiate theoretical approaches as they arise in the research' (Playdon, 2000) and that only after collecting and interpreting empirical material is it possible to establish similarities and convergences with the literature (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). This means that references can be made to a priori or a posteriori knowledge and experiences.
Project management, in its present format and structure, is still in an evolving and developmental state. The available relevant literature for review is, as can be expected, somewhat limited. The researcher considered, therefore, to review the work of other researchers who carried out related research in the area of project management competence and behaviour in skills in working with people (Section 3.5), and use their contribution to strengthen the limitation of the available literature in the hope to be able to confirm that the shortfall referred to earlier, still exists. Maxwell (1996) suggests that in addition to the usefulness of the researcher in advancing his understanding of what is going on, a review of relevant prior research can serve several other purposes besides providing existing theory, quoting Strauss (1987):
1 Can be used to develop a justification for the study to show how this work will address an important need or unanswered question (Marshall and Rossman, 1995)
2 It can inform the decisions of the researcher about methods, suggesting alternative approaches or revealing potential problems
3 It can be used as a source of data to test or modify the researcher's theories. The researcher can see the effect this has on previous studies and the consequences
4 Prior research can be used to help generate theory
Many texts were reviewed before, during and after, for example, the face to face and focus group meetings were conducted. The outcomes from these meetings had a major influence on the analysis and interpretation of the research data as they provided new insights into trying to fill the shortfall of skills in working with people of the current APM Body of Knowledge (2000, 2006). Projects and the environments in which they are managed often differ. It is recognised, in the context of this research, that these differences will have an impact on the competences required for project managers how to manage their team members effectively.
3.3 Management Books and Journals Pre-1990
The available literature for review relating to skills in working with people and associated behaviours for this period is very limited. A likely reason for this is that in the early years of management, it appears that skills in working with people were not considered to be important (Boyatzis, 1982; Cockerill, 1989). Managers were more concerned with and focused on product and task delivery. It is interesting to note that the early motivational theories and work of authors such as Mc Gregor (1967) and Likert and Hayes (1957) suggest that managers need to understand first what actually makes people want to do something and what the underlying reasons are for wanting to do things. This understanding is fundamental. Knowing why others desire to do something is key to get the most out of people. This understanding, on its own, is not sufficient to get others to do what managers want them to do. They need to adopt and apply appropriate behaviours that underpin this understanding of the needs of other people. Likert and Hayes (1957) suggest that human behaviour is made up of actions in context. Behaviour is a tool to help or hinder dealings with people. An implication is that people can change their behaviour, and because of that, the behaviour of others.
Mc Gregor (1967, page xii) considers that ' people do not react to an objective world but to a world fashioned out of their own perceptions, assumptions and theories of what the world is like'. The manager's view of reality is of course far wider and more complex than a world that consists of management theories. In order to bring the two closer together and thus get people to work at their best, he suggests that managers need to have the following people competences, to be effective: apply open communications, create mutual trust, manage the human differences at the emotional level, lead people by example, manage differences of opinion effectively and create a working towards consensus-reaching work environment.
Within a similar time frame, Blake and Mouton (1964) carried out some management research and observations over a period of time to verify if an increase in managerial effectiveness, for example, leads to a noticeable and significant improvement in our society, and how managers supervise their staff. Without managerial competence, we run the risk of maintaining the status quo, bureaucracy and decay. They consider that the following competences are required to become an effective people manager: show concern for people, build trust, show sympathy, involve people's emotions and ideas in solving problems through team work and create mutual trust.
It is interesting to note that these authors, as early as the 1950s and 1960s, considered similar competences that managers should adopt to be a good people manager such as being aware of the feelings of others and showing concern for people. Their considerations were perhaps ahead of their time as the working environments had not yet changed, thus placing less urgency on a need to respond, for example, to a move from hierarchical to matrix-type working environments, and the associated need to have and apply different managing people skills for these types of working practices. The pressure to deliver more in less time was virtually non-existent at that time. This probably explains why the knowledge of project management and associated skills in working with people was relatively limited. The general management literature review for the period 1990-2000 will discuss this issue in more detail.
It is not clear from the literature reviewed this far how these skills in working with people will assist managers to manage their people more effectively. Identifying a number of skills in working with people by themselves is not adequate to make such claims. Mc Gregor (1967), Likert and Hayes (1957) and Blake and Mouton (1964) do not show why they think that their suggestions of what makes a competent manager are valid. They do not provide solid evidence to strengthen their suggestions. It is relevant that all considered similar skills in working with people to be desirable for managers to have, independent of each other.
They do not consider whether these skills in working with people will work in any working environment, irrespective of geography and culture. They do not share their views why these competences should work for managers when applied appropriately. The suggested competences were still appropriate for the prevailing working conditions and environments at that time. Working environments started to change towards the end of the 1980s. Many UK and European companies adopted initiatives such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Quality Circles (QC) as a new way of working more effectively and in a quality-controlled way. Customers no longer accepted low quality products and services. Competition to deliver these increased. Some companies started to recognise the need to have appropriate controls in place to manage new work packages to deliver the new customer expectations as cost-effectively and as efficiently as possible, optimising their human resources. This was the turning point when project management began to be recognised as an effective solution to manage these work packages, in a matrix-type working environment that began to replace the existing hierarchical way of working. This change was reflected in the available managing people literature at that time. Honey (1988) is concerned with face-to-face skills and the behaviours managers need to apply to improve their people skills if they wish to deliver their business goals. He suggests that interpersonal skills are face-to-face behaviours that people use when they wish to achieve something useful with the help of and through others. Behaviour is everything you can say and do. It is always directly observable, unlike many other accompanying underlying factors such as motives, attitudes, beliefs and emotional feelings. These are all covert and cannot be observed directly. He suggests, therefore, that behaviour is like the top of an iceberg (Figure 3.2).
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 3.2 Behaviour and Underlying Factors (Honey, 1988)
He suggests some of the basic managerial skills as open and honest communications, negotiations, persuading others through suggesting rather than just telling, praising good work, reprimanding bad work and building long-term trust. He suggests that managing people is perhaps the most difficult thing to do as no two people are the same, and that it is very time-consuming but rewarding for those who care to take their time to manage the people side at work well.
He does not consider nor provide guidance what managers actually need to consider doing to find out how their people feel about work, for example, and what their motives and attitudes are, for example, towards work. This is a critical shortfall of his considerations. Managers need to understand the exact reasons, for example, why one of their team members feels bad about the project they are engaged in. This understanding of the actual reason for the behaviour will assist project managers to consider what appropriate action to take to resolve the issue. The application of the action that will ultimately lead to a resolution of the problem is of paramount importance. It is not a panacea for success in every situation. The likelihood of success increases the more guidance is provided to project managers such as to hold more informal meetings with team members and ask people directly how they feel about the project, and the reasons why, in an open and honest meeting environment. This will probably give a good indication of how well the team member is engaged in the project, and more importantly, what corrective action the project manager needs to consider to put things right if the feedback is negative.
Peters and Waterman (1982) and Peters (1989; 1992) consider skills in working with people of effective managers based on some company research at McKinsey & Company in the US, to verify their suggestion that it is behaviours and competences that make an effective people manager. They suggest that to be effective at managing people, managers need to be able to communicate well, inspire others, lead their people, build their teams, apply humour and show empathy. They presented the outcome of their research to over 200 groups of people to confirm, deny or sharpen their arguments. Thus the outcome was not purely based on the research current at the time but it was also based on the inputs from many interviews with practising managers from across the industry. Their predispositions were the product of a lifetime of research and teaching. This also included a 25-year span literature review. They were looking beyond just the practising businessmen for help in their search for managerial excellence. They visited some business schools in the US and Europe to combine academic thinking and knowledge with practical experience.
The result of their triangulated research approach contributes to the knowledge of what new skills in working with people effective project managers should have. It balances academic theory with practical experiences, and then challenges the validity of this by presenting and reviewing the outcome in focus group meetings to strengthen their arguments and considerations. They do not suggest how managers should apply these competences and what the likely consequences are for doing so. It is not clear from the publication whether it is true to say that these competences will work universally or whether their application is limited to the geographical limits of the US and Europe.
The outcome of the skills in working with people research for the early years shows that during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s skills in working with people were considered as being important to have and to apply by managers to manage their people effectively (Likert and Hayes, 1957; Blake and Mouton, 1964 and Mc Gregor, 1967). This was reinforced by research completed during the 1980s when skills in working with people started to be considered and recognised as being essential for effective people management (Honey, 1988; Peters and Waterman, 1982 and Peters, 1989, 1992).
The literature review of skills in working with people for this period suggests that the early management publications have provided some supportive evidence that, for managers to be effective, they need to have and apply skills in working with people. Without these they cannot and will not be able cope with the constantly changing and increasing demands placed upon them by of today’s and tomorrow’s businesses. The chosen authors of relevant publications for this Section make a major contribution to the pioneering work of this thesis to improve the skills in working with people of the current version of the APM Body of Knowledge (2000), 2006, Section 7: People (Model 1). The authors of management publications of the early years of management (up to the 1970s), through some academic and business research, considered what skills in working with people managers needed to have and apply to manage people effectively. Authors for the 1980s developed this earlier work further, through more academic and business research.
It was largely driven by the emerging business needs of many companies that started to change their modus operandi, from being task oriented to being more people focused, recognising that more effective work can be done through people when these are managed well. Collectively, none of the reviewed publications suggests associated behaviours that managers should adopt to manage the people in their projects effectively. This sets the scene for the next decade (1990-2000) when business practices changed even more to matrix-type work environments, necessitating the need for different skills in working with people that underpinned the new working practices.
As considered in the previous Section, the era prior to 1990 was an era of more production and industrial innovation. The management of people at work and associated managerial behaviours and competences was very much in a developmental state. Crawford (2000) considers that in the 1980s the Handy et al.(1987) and Constable and McCormick reports (1987) drew attention to the need to develop the competence of United Kingdom managers in order to improve corporate performance and revitalise the competitiveness of British industry. Concern for the competence of British managers led to the formation of the Management Charter Institute (MCI) and the development of competency standards as a basis for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for general management. These two stream initiations, in the United States and in the United Kingdom, were the primary catalysts in the rise of interest and the wealth of rhetoric (Collin, 1989) surrounding the concept of competence.
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