Categories > IT Management

People determine the success and failure of organizations and projects

Posted on January 14th, 2012 By Danial Javanmardi

The definition of Project Human Resource Management is making the most effective use of the people involved with a project.

What is the key to manage people?

Psychologists and management theorists have devoted much research and thought to the field of managing people at work.

  1. Motivation theories
    • Intrinsic motivation:
    • causes people to participate in an activity for their own enjoyment

    • Extrinsic motivation:

    causes people to do something for a reward or to avoid a penalty

    For example, some children take piano lessons for intrinsic motivation (they enjoy it) while others take them for extrinsic motivation (to get a reward or avoid punishment)

  2. Influence and power
  3. Effectiveness

Maslow hierarchy of needs

A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs which states that people’s behaviors are guided or motivated by a sequence of needs.

Physiological needs

These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction.

Safety Needs

When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe.

Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness

When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.

Needs for Esteem

When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.

Needs for Self-Actualization

When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.

Thamhain and Wilemon’s Influence and Power

Thamhain and Wilemon’s theory is utilized by instructional designers to determine what type of power and influence is necessary to motivate project team members. 

  1. Authority:
  2. the legitimate hierarchical right to issue orders

  3. Assignment:
  4. the project manager’s perceived ability to influence a worker’s later work assignments

  5. Budget:
  6. the project manager’s perceived ability to authorize others’ use of discretionary funds

  7. Promotion:
  8. the ability to improve a worker’s position

  9. Money:
  10. the ability to increase a worker’s pay and benefits

  11. Penalty:
  12. the project manager’s ability to cause punishment

  13. Work challenge:
  14. the ability to assign work that capitalizes on a worker’s enjoyment of doing a particular task

  15. Expertise:
  16. the project manager’s perceived special knowledge that others deem important

  17. Friendship:
  18. the ability to establish friendly personal relationships between the project manager and others


Projects are more likely to succeed when project managers influence with:

  • Expertise
  • Work challenge

Projects are more likely to fail when project managers rely too heavily on:

  • Authority
  • Money
  • Penalty

Power is the potential ability to influence behavior to get people to do things they would not otherwise do.

Further Resources:

  1. Information Technology Project Management, Kathy Schwalbe
  2. Wikipedia, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  3. Conflict Management, Vijay K. Verma
  4. Resolving Conflict in Work Teams,



Next Article: