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Project Team Management Basics for the PMP Certification Exam

Managing the project team is one of the most difficult parts of being a project manager. Familiarize yourself with some basics for the PMP Certification Exam about different options for overseeing your team members.

Influence

Influence is the ability to compel people to behave or think in a certain way. Because project managers often don’t have a lot of power or authority, they often need to use their influence. You can influence stakeholders by your knowledge, charisma, trust, or reputation.

  • Knowledge: In many instances, project managers have significant knowledge about the project and the details involved in the project. That knowledge can influence stakeholders to follow your lead.

  • Charisma: Sometimes, people follow a person because of her charm, energy, or effect on others.

  • *Trust: When stakeholders don’t have all the facts but they trust you based on experience, they might go along with what you want.

  • Reputation: You’ve heard the notion, “His reputation precedes him.” Sometimes having a good reputation is enough to influence people.

The Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct specifically states, “We must make decisions and take actions based on the best interests of society, public safety, and the environment.”

Power

Closely related to influence is the concept of power. Power is the ability to do or accomplish something. Project managers have different types of power depending on the organizational structure, the project, and the project manager. Table 2-6 shows the types of power and a description of each.

Power Type Description
Formal/Position Based on your role as a project manager. It is defined in the project charter and the organizational chart. This is also called legitimate power.
Expert Based on what you know. Subject matter experts and team members have expert power for their portion of the project. There may be people who outrank them in position power, but these people may have a greater influence on an outcome because of their expertise.
Reward The ability to give people something they desire. This can be a raise, good review, or good assignment.
Penalty The ability to take away or withhold something people want. This can include not giving a bonus or not giving a recommendation to someone.
Referent There are two types of referent power. One type is personality- and charisma-based. The other is based on whom you know, or whom you are associated with: affiliation.

Here are examples of each type of power:

  • Position power: Because you are the project manager, you have the position power defined in the project charter to resolve team conflicts, determine the project organizational structure, and define the change control system for the project.

  • Expert power: The system engineer on your project has 25 years of experience. He knows how to set up a requirements-gathering process and a testing and verification process for the project you’re managing. Therefore, you allow him to make those technical decisions.

  • Reward/penalty power: The resource manager assigns resources to your team. She has the reward power to give you really good resources or the penalty power to assign unproven or problematic resources.

  • Referent power: The two types are

    • Personality: Your lead scheduler is a really funny person, always smiling and with something nice to say to everyone. People want to be around him and usually follow what he has to say because they like his personality. This is a type of charismatic referent power.

    • Affiliation: The administrative assistant on your project is married to the Chief Operating Officer. Because you don’t want her to say anything bad about you to her husband, you’re always polite. She has power based on affiliation.

The Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states that as project managers, you do not exercise the power of our expertise or position to influence the decisions or actions of others in order to benefit personally at their expense.

Management styles

There are many different styles of leading and managing. Your chosen style really depends on the team members, the team experience, the organization’s culture, and your own skill.

There are a lot of terms used to convey specific meanings. If you aren’t familiar with the terms and how they are used, you will have a difficult time with this part of the exam. After you know the vocabulary, it’s fairly easy to do well.

  • Analytical: Based on technical knowledge of a situation. Finding facts and making decisions based on reasoning.

  • Autocratic: Top-down style where the leader makes the decisions, and everyone else follows.

  • Bureaucratic: Procedure and process driven. Management is based on following the rules and guidelines.

  • Charismatic: Management based on an influential personality.

  • Coaching: Helping others to achieve their outcomes.

  • Consensus: Getting everyone’s input and having the group come up with the decision or solution.

  • Consultative: Getting everyone’s input. This can mean that the project manager does what the team wants, or it can mean that the project manager gets everyone’s input before making the decision (consultative-autocratic).

  • Delegating: The project manager working with the team to identify the work that needs to be done and then delegating the work to team members.

  • Democratic: Also known as participatory management. The team comes up with the approach and owns the outcome.

  • Directive: Similar to an autocratic style. The manager makes the decisions and tells the team what to do.

  • Driving: Similar to directive but with more of an urgent edge. The edge may be based on time constraints or a competitive nature.

  • Facilitating: Working with the group to lead its members to develop a decision or resolution.

  • Influencing: Using team building and teamwork to encourage the team to achieve the results.

  • Laissez-faire: Hands-off management. The leader is available as needed but allows the team to manage itself.

  • Supportive: Providing assistance as needed to achieve the project objectives. More hands-on than laissez-faire.

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