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Human Resources Management (Practical Project Management Series)

Human Resources Management (Practical Project Management Series). This time the subject is ‘human resources management’ with the focus on the staff during project execution and closure.

Many ICT-organisations are matrix organisations (minimal two dimensional). This implies that staff has at least two managers. Looking at the people in a project then each person has as manager the Project Manager and a manager who is responsible for reviews, personal development, education, etc. (Line Manager). The Line Manager is in fact the permanent manager. The Project Manager reviews the staff member and supplies the Line Manager feedback about eg. performance. Apart from this, in my point of view, the Project Manager is also responsible for the development of the staff member during the project. This implies that the Project Manager also needs to have ‘soft skills’. Managing a project is not ‘only’ managing time, costs and scope/quality but also of the people involved!

During project execution the Project Manager is responsible for the atmosphere in the team and the performance of the people. An important item of a project is the project kick-off with all stakeholders including the team members. Organise for instance first in the office environment a kick-off meeting during which subjects will be presented such as the business case, project objectives, project scope, ‘high level’ project planning, project organisation, communication, collaboration, time reporting, progress reporting and the project repository. State explicitly what you expect such as notification of vacation/courses, reachability, way of collaboration (‘tooling’ such as project repository) and the meeting etiquette.

Regarding the meeting etiquette I would like to make some additional remarks. How often do people appear on time, report on time in case they can’t join the meeting, have read the minutes of meeting in advance or are busy with their laptop or ‘smartphone’ during the meeting? Make your vision clear about this as Project Manager.

At the end of the working day you can organise an informal meeting, preferbly outside the office, with some snacks and drinks to enable people to get to know each other better.

In case the project really starts not only the management needs to be informed about progess etc. but also the team members. In the Communications Management Plan you have described all of this including the project team meetings. Plan these meetings way ahead. When people are not able to joint they need to inform the Project Manager and/or arrange replacement if needed.

It is advisable to have for instance a bi-weekly personal meeting with each team member. During this meeting also personal items can be discussed. It is important as Project Manager to know what is going on in the personal life of your team members (of course they need to be willing to share).

When an important milestone has been achieved, celebrate this with all stakeholders. Show appreciation towards people when they have performed well. This is of utmost (psychological) importance and increases their motivation. The appreciation doesn’t need to be a physical gift but only a ‘thank you’ in words is quite often sufficient.

The project closure is in my point of view important as well. At the end of a project the people are quite often tired and are being approached for new projects. Close each project with a meeting with all stakeholders. An important agenda item is the ‘lessons learned’. After the meeting an informal session can be organised outside the premises with some snacks and drinks (and a few small (!) speeches).

The Project Manager actually closes the project, think about items such as:

  1. Financial closure (no more hours can be booked on the project).
  2. Formal ‘décharge’ (by e-mail) by the sponsor.
  3. Return office space and other facilities.
  4. Return software licenses and remove software in case specific software has been purchased (depends on licenses).
  5. Transfer project repository to Project Management Office organisation.

The next time I’ll describe ‘human resources management’ in case people from other countries and cultures are part of the project team.


This is a ‘blog’ article by Lex van der Heijden regarding practical Project Management. For questions/remarks I’m available via [email protected] or via LinkedIn (