Managing People in Projects


an Effective Strategy



By Srinivasan Radhakrishnan

Arizona, USA


Project Management is much more than delivering within the three constraints viz. time, scope, and cost with the right quality. People-related challenges are at times more complex than process or technology or business challenges. It is essential for a PM (Project Manager) to understand the people matrix and the team dynamics to execute the project successfully and deliver results.

This article provides an effective approach for PMs to manage people based on the three vectors – Skill/Talent, Opportunity & Passion/Interest. PM could follow a different approach for each team member depending on where they stand with respect to these three vectors. Characteristics of four possible scenarios and the action plan a PM could take for each of the scenarios are presented in this article. By applying appropriate management techniques this way, the PM can get the team energized and set it for success.


A survey on top project management challenges for 2020 shows people problems contribute to 27%.

Source: Top 3 project management challenges in 2020 [survey data]. The Digital Project Manager. (2021, July 31). https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/project-management-challenges/

Some of the other areas shown in the chart like the Organizational Problems & Personal Challenges could also be related to People. It’s not uncommon for any survey to identify “People Challenges” as one of the topmost challenges of project management.

Even with the same set of processes, some projects can exceed expectations and some fail. It is because, at the end of the day, those processes are executed by people.  As General Colin Powell said “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved“.

People skill is referred as one of the important characteristics for a successful PM [1].

Project Management has people management embedded in it. The people management aspect is cited as part of the “Project Human Resource Management” Knowledge Area in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) 6th Edition. The recently released 7th edition of the PMBOK® maps these aspects under Project Management Principles (“Stewardship”, “Team” & “Leadership”) and Project Performance Domains (“Team”).


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How to cite this article: Radhakrishnan, S. (2021).  Managing People in Projects – an Effective Strategy, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue XI, November.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/pmwj111-Nov2021-Radhakrishnan-managing-people-in-projects.pdf

About the Author

Srinivasan Radhakrishnan

Arizona, USA


Srinivasan Radhakrishnan (Srini) is an Information Technology professional with 25+ years of global IT and academic experience. Srini holds an M.S. in Engineering and multiple professional certifications (PgMP®, PMI-ACP®, PMP®, CSCP®, CSM®, LSSYB, SAP® BW®, AWS-CCP & SAA). Srini worked with Intel for 16 years and is currently a faculty with W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, USA. For more information, please email rsrini02@gmail.com or visit www.sriniradhakrishnan.com