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The Project Team

A diverse range of factors influence the social processes operating within project teams. Cicmil et al. (2006: 676) referred to this as project actuality: 'the understanding of the lived experience of organisational members with work and life in their local project environment'. How the team acts and behaves is continuously influenced by how they perceive and experience contextual influences. These could include observed power relations, the quality of interpersonal communications and collaboration, the style of managerial control and the degree of tensions created by project diversity.


While professional guidelines are comprehensive in prescribing processes to be followed, it is not clear what impact they have on the functioning of the project team. Through an extensive literature review, Sewchurran et al. (2010: 682) found a Tack of correlation between prescribed practice and as- lived experiences'. It appears that performance is determined by the team's current and past experiences with project situations (Cicmil et al. 2006). This includes avoiding elements of dysfunction caused by the following factors (Barkley 2004):

• Absence of trust. Team members should be able to work with each other without the fear of being deceived and undermined. Trust has many meanings including reliability, integrity, competence, all of which are personal traits that are highly desirable in project activities.

• Fear of conflict. Disagreement in an aggressive form takes attention away from the project because time and energy are devoted to resolving conflict. It not only involves team members but also the valuable time of management.

• Lack of commitment. There is a difference between 'participating in' and 'committing to' the project. The latter implies accepting responsibility for completing project tasks. Commitment at the project management level is particularly important as it indicates that the project manager stands behind the project and will accept both the recognition, as well as possible blame, for the outcome of the project.

• Avoidance of accountability. As part of their commitment, project members should be expected to analyse their actions, be prepared to admit to making mistakes, seek to develop solutions to problems, and work within time and budget constraints. When reporting on progress there should be honesty in their feedback.

• Inattention to tasks. Projects are driven by work breakdown structures which break down the activities of the project into individual tasks. Meticulously carrying out tasks will provide a solid foundation for project development and, when aggregated, ensure project completion on time.


Project members carry out multiple roles, often work on different projects at the same time, and experience the inherent uncertainty of tenure. On the other hand, the dynamic nature of projects provides opportunities for gaining new knowledge, skills and experiences. To manage this diversity, project managers are giving increasing attention to the psychology of project work, including its social aspects and motivations.

Social styles profile

Figure 8.5 Social styles profile

Social factors provide the harmony in which team members are able to work effectively with each other on project activities. This is largely determined by personalities for which a number of models exist (see Schwalbe 2007):

• According to the Social Styles Profile (see Figure 8.5), people fall primarily into one of four zones, based on their assertiveness and responsiveness. Those on opposite comers (Drivers and Amiables, Analyticals and Expressives) may have difficulties getting along.

• Under the 'DISC' profile, behaviour is reflected in a fourdimensional model of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. People in opposite quadrants can have problems understanding each other.

• The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular tool for determining personality preferences and helping teammates understand each other. The four dimensions include Extrovert/ Introvert (E/I), Sensation/Intuition (S/N), Thinking/Feeling (T/F) and Judgement/Perception (J/P).

Understanding social factors is useful for matching the requirements of project risk management with a suitable personality. Using the Social Styles profile it could be argued that an 'expressive' approach is best suited during project risk planning. Planning and the plan itself have to be conducted and completed with a high degree of visibility. During risk identification, the 'ask-directed' strategy of an 'amiable' personality is appropriate because risk events/conditions have to be discovered through enquiries. Risk analysis is clearly suited to an 'analytical' person. When developing risk responses, the 'driver' approach could be used because the project team receives direction to apply the selected risk responses. Finally, risk monitoring is best conducted by an 'amiable' personality since it seeks to discover, by asking, areas that require attention.

In addition to recognising the impact of social factors, motivation plays an important role in completing project work. There are many theories on motivation, including Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, McClelland's Acquired- Needs theory, and McGregor's Theory X and Y. A common distinction is between intrinsic ('I play the piano because I enjoy it') and extrinsic ('my parents required me to play the piano') motivation. Intrinsic motivation causes people to participate in an activity for their own enjoyment while extrinsic motivation causes people to do something for a reward or to avoid a penalty.

In Herzberg's Motivational and Hygiene Factors theory, motivational factors produce job satisfaction through actual achievement, recognition of the work done, the nature of work itself, the degree of responsibility given to do the work, and prospects for advancement and personal growth. Hygiene factors themselves will cause dissatisfaction if not present, but do not motivate workers to do more. Examples include larger salaries, more supervision and an attractive work environment.

Both factors should be satisfied, but motivational factors are significant because of the type of person attracted to project risk management. They value the diversity of work and the challenges it provides. Issues are numerous and interrelated and involve a high degree of subjectiveness in their evaluation. The concept of project risk is difficult to grasp and determined by perceptions and judgements. Each project produces a unique product or service with its own set of risk events and conditions.


This chapter identified, described and provided examples of what are regarded essential project risk management processes, inputs and outputs. It demonstrated how import project risk management is to all of the knowledge areas of project management. Since project risk management is regarded as less 'mature' in its practice, a comprehensive project risk management plan is required. This will guide approaches to risk modelling and ranking, as well as developing project risk responses. It is critical that risk responses are actually implemented during project development. The chapter perceived the project register as a core document because it acts as a repository for information about project risk events and conditions and the progress towards implementing responses. Finally, it is argued that without a motivated project team, project risk management may not succeed.

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