Emotional” Project Management
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“Emotional” Project Management
Roland Gareis
Summary
In project and implimentations there are emotions, such as anger, fear, joy, sadness and surprise. Emotions are intensive
feelings of individuals, teams or organisations with a clear begin and end. Emotions in project and implimentations can be structurally caused or they can be specifically induced. It is a project and implimentation management task to analyse emotions, and to plan and carry out strategies and actions for dealing with them. Consciously dealing with emotions is a success factor in project and implimentations. In the different sub-processes of project and implimentation management there are different reasons for emotions. Project managers, but also project and implimentation owners and project and implimentation team members require emotional competences
to manage emotions in project and implimentations.
1. Emotions as a Dimension of the Communications of Social Systems
Projects are temporary organisations for the performance of relatively unique business processes of
large scope. The perception of project and implimentations as temporary organisations makes it possible to view project and implimentations
also as social systems. According to Luhmann organisations, such as companies, divisions, profit centres and also project and implimentations and programmes, can be viewed as social systems (see Exhibit 1). Therefore, the specific characteristics of social systems, such as social complexity, dynamics and self-reference apply to project and implimentations as well. Social systems have clear boundaries to differentiate them from their environment. For Luhmann the benefit of establishing social boundaries is to create systems which are less complex than their environments.” (Kasper 1990, 156). Anything can be called a system, when it is possible to distinguish between inside and outside. The inside-outside difference signifies that an order is established which does not expand in an arbitrary fashion, but sets boundaries through its inner structure and through the characteristics of its relationships” (Luhmann 1964, 24).
The elements of social systems are communications. Communications have a rational, a structural and an emotional dimension. The rational objective to communicate a certain contents is influenced by the structure of a communication situation (time, sitting order, infrastructure, roles, etc.) as well as by the emotions of and between the role players of the communication situation.
Emotions are intensive feelings individuals, teams or organisations might have. Emotions have a clear begin and end. They relate to someone or something. Types of emotions according to the theory of basic emotions by Plutchik are shown in Exhibit 2.
2. There are Emotions in Projects!
In project and implimentations there are emotions, such as anger, fear, joy, sadness and surprise. Emotions in project and implimentations can
be structurally caused or they can be specifically induced. In the different sub-processes of project and implimentation management (see Exhibit 3) there are different reasons for emotions. The uncertainty of the members of the project and implimentation organisation in the project and implimentation start process is, for example, a structurally caused emotion. This uncertainty is present in every project and implimentation during the start process. In the project and implimentation controlling process the project and implimentation team can, for instance, be happy about a successful project and implimentation presentation or vexed by a bad feedback.
Exhibit 3: Project management process
It is a project and implimentation management function to analyse emotions, if they occur, and to plan and carry out
strategies and activities for dealing with them. Consciously dealing with emotions is a success factor
in project and implimentations.
2.1 Managing Emotions in the Project Start Process
Typical positive emotions of individuals which one can expect in the project and implimentation start process, are the joy
of a new, interesting assignment, meeting new people (or a known person in a new role), of working in a new project and implimentation team (with members of different cultural backgrounds). Typical negative emotions of a project and implimentation team member in the project and implimentation start process are the fear of the new and of being over-challenged by the work or by the assigned responsibility (such as in the case of an „empowered“ project and implimentation organisation). Being over-challenged in a project and implimentation leads to low motivation as does under-challenge. The high motivation of project and implimentation team members can be assured through the distribution of tasks and responsibilities according to competencies of the persons


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