In today’s tough economy, people are clinging to the jobs they have – even if it means putting up with unrealistic demands and workplace abuse. Senior management may be happy that their employee retention rate is high, but unhappy employees are not going to be loyal to the company. They take more sick days, put in fewer hours, and are less productive in their work. Thus, employers should be working on increasing employee satisfaction which will have the domino effect of increasing productivity and thus profit.
When employees are unhappy at work, it is usually not the company which is to blame. Employees become unhappy because of bad managers.
What Makes a “Good” Project Manager?
A “good” manager must have both hard skills and soft skills. The hard skills are the ones which we traditionally think of as increasing productivity – such as organizational and planning skills. However, hard skills must be supported by soft skills, i.e. people skills, if workers are going to feel motivated in and loyal to their jobs. Unfortunately, most project management courses focus almost exclusively on hard skills.
The education system isn’t the sole culprit for poor people skills in managers. Companies tend to push the hard skills with the mistaken belief that a people-focus will hinder productivity. Last year, Google with “Project Oxygen” (which was reported on in the NY Times) actually proved the importance of people skills for project success. The project goal was to build a better boss. For people who have worked for bad managers, the results were not surprising: the managers with the best-performing projects were the ones which excelled in people skills.
Bad Project Managers Can Be Retrained
If you find that one of your company’s project managers excels in hard skills but is lacking in people skills, don’t let the PM go so quickly. Companies need to take responsibility to train (or retrain) their project managers in soft skills and initiate policies for rewarding employees.
Few companies have policies in place for rewarding employees, at least in non-financial terms. However, the companies which do put systems in place which recognize the excellent work of employees and reward them (even if just through public recognition of a job well done) have higher rates of productivity. Their employees feel like they are valued and are more likely to work as a team and put in more effort.