Project management professionals are in high demand these days, with most companies keen to recruit employees who can oversee and deliver critical projects in minimal time. While personal proficiency is key to project management, external factors also play a huge part in project performance.
One of the biggest influences on project management is the organisation’s culture. Organisational culture theory is a vast subject that incorporates multiple thought processes and hypothesis. It can be defined as the values and behavior of employees within the work place.
Many people have tried answering the question, “What is organizational culture?” But, one of the most commonly cited definitions is by Ravasi and Schultz (2006), who characterised organisational culture as a set of shared assumptions that guide behaviours.
This collective set of assumptions and consequent behaviour translates into the unique way in which employees at a particular organisation think, feel, and perceive the workspace around them. It dictates the way in which employees interact with each other, clients, and stakeholders.
There are several factors affecting organisational culture such as the physical workspace, wage structure, leadership, employee engagement, turnover rate, and more.
How Does Organisational Culture influence Project Management
In 2013, a study by Gallup Data found that organisational cultures that promote above-average engagement can increase employee performance by up to 240%. Several other studies conducted by industry experts have also concluded that company culture plays a major role in employee motivation and their subsequent achievement of goals and objectives.
This has a very huge influence on project management, which is, in its essence, the art of getting people to perform at their best. This is why understanding organisational culture is essential to project management.
Some of the key aspects where culture influences project management are-
Governance is a key responsibility of project managers. Organisational culture dictates the approach that managers have to take, whether they take a more authoritative approach to those working under them or give employees leeway to operate. If the organisational culture is one that espouses productivity, then the latter can help project managers perform better with lesser friction within the team.
A major part of project success can be attributed to process orientation and training. If an organisation has already trained employees sufficiently and inculcated a spirit of learning in their work culture, then process orientation for the manager becomes an easy job. If not, then project managers may face multiple hurdles in their training efforts.
When it comes to establishing performance metrics, there are two types of organisational cultures that exist. One which focuses on short-term key performance indices (KPI) and one which looks at the bigger picture and factors in the intangible performance indicators.
In case of the former, the project manager is expected to set up regular performance meetings to monitor progress, even if things are going according to plan. But, for companies looking at long-term goals, the project manager can focus on the final goal and team-building, with lesser focus on daily update of KPIs.
One of the biggest influences that work culture can have on project management is the expectations that the team members have from their manager. In a company which encourages teamwork and growth, they will expect transparency when it comes to appraisals and promotions and also be willing to stretch themselves to fulfill management needs. However, in a more hierarchical structure, they will expect a formal relationship that is completely governed by company policy.
These are only a few of the ways in which organisational culture affects project management. There are several other aspects of project management that can be effected either positively or negatively by the culture at the workplace.
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