My name is Sam Nasr, and I am a project manager at Wood Group Mustang in Houston, Texas. A large portion of my time deals with people. The people that I deal with are the clients, WGM upper management, WGM employees on my project, WGM support personnel, subcontractors from different companies on the project, and others. I had a few challenges with people management before I took the Managing People Effectively (MPE) classes. The challenges were:
l learned a good bit about myself during the MPE classes. I learned that when I was trying to show employees that I was a good manager to work for by giving too much freedom on them taking on new tasks or completing assigned tasks, I was actually being too passive. This led to some employees not really feeling the sense of urgency. I also used to think that people should not receive recognition since that is what they get paid to do, and that is their job. I saw no reason why I should thank someone for doing what they were hired to do. This led to some people not feeling appreciated. Assessing employees’ productivity and contribution was not something I used to do. That led to some employees working on autopilot, budgets/schedules being jeopardized, and the inability for me to see leading/lagging indicators of issues.
I have taken various steps to remedy the above issues, and I have seen improvement. I now tell people when I need something done, and I ask what else they are doing. The impact/need is discussed (when applicable) so that all know that something is not asked without reason. Deadlines are reorganized accordingly, but this is not left solely for the employee to handle. It is done together. This has worked out well, and has improved the expectations. I have also periodically thanked employees one-on-one and in group settings. I have used appreciation lunches for special achievements for local employees, taken out ex-pats for a couple of meals when I check in on them in different countries, and have passed out treats for various holiday celebrations (Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.). Even though these are not expensive gestures, I see some benefit coming out of these actions. Assessing productivity of an employee has always been a sensitive area since this can lead to an emotional situation. I believe that people need to know if they’ve done well or not done well so they can either continue as they are or make changes. It is difficult for many people, including me, but I believe it helps the person and overall project at the end of the day. The assessments are in the form of the following:
The assessments can be discussed in a group meeting or one-on-one, and the effectiveness depends on the individuals. Sometimes, simply showing deficiencies can drive the employee to strive for better results, however, other times, I have needed to tell them to change and how to do it. I sometimes have to request additional support personnel or as a last resort, replace the person with someone else who can do the job.
MPE has helped me in self-awareness and has shown me why things are not working. MPE has also given me various ideas and techniques to try out, which have sorted out issues that I have encountered. I would recommend MPE to anyone dealing with any type of management of personnel. I would also recommend a refresher course for previous MPE course attendees to check in on how things have improved and to make sure no one reverts back to their old ways.