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The adhoc nature of project organizations necessitates putting together new teams at the start of almost every project. This could be unsettling for people who are coming into the project to work with people that they may have never worked with before. People have to adjust, find common ground, and be ready for an environment they may not feel fully engaged. So, the fit and alignment among various cadres of staff and the environment are critical to the smooth functioning of a project organization.
Not only is the fit in-between staff members important, but the fit between the project manager and the project staff is vital too. The non-existence of such a fit could even stall a project. Particularly, as projects are focused on delivery and faced with constraints of time and budget, it is not always easy to focus on spending time and money on activities (e.g., cohesion between manager and staff or relationships among staff) that are not considered or seen as contributing directly to the achievement of project deliverables.
There are studies that have looked at person-environment fit and the effects of leader-member exchange in a project organization context. But it seems more needs to be done to understand if it really matters to have a project manager-project staff fit and the challenges in developing such a fit.
One of the key challenges to achieving such a fit is unplanned staffing. When staffing is done just to fill the gaps, it could lead to bringing in people that may find it challenging to develop synergies and work cohesively. In particular, in organizations that lack project management maturity (which, in hindsight, is often the case), people with little understanding of project management make staffing decisions for projects. That could lead to unplanned staffing and, consequently, a lack of fit.
In hindsight, more than 90% of organizations worldwide are small-to-medium enterprises. As such, it is expected that they will not have dedicated project management staff or resources to handle projects. Therefore, functional managers handle projects or serve as project managers. In such circumstances, it is unavoidable not to have gaps in the thinking and working of staff and the project manager as functional managers lack the project management expertise, resulting in a lack of project manager-project staff fit.
Other difficulties include a lack of staff training, outside project influences, a lack of synergies between manager and staff, and personality differences.
It would be stating the obvious that people are the most critical element to delivering a project successfully. Therefore, cohesion among the people has to be there to perform work as per client requirements. In particular, a good working synergy between the project manager and the project staff is essential to keep things on track and allow the project manager to lead the team members to deliver the project output.
Despite its importance and some work on understanding the complexities involved in project manager-project staff relationships, a thorough understanding of how project manager–project staff fit can be achieved is warranted.
To advance further thought processes in this context, we have looked at some of the potential challenges to achieving such a fit. Of particular focus in this regard is the human behavioral aspects and the lack of project management expertise within organizations. Project management is often not the core activity in organizations. It necessitates functional managers and staff handling projects, which could lead to issues in how projects are staffed, and a potential lack of project manager-project staff fit.
Note: This article was previously published on: www.academiasolution.com