Transitioning from PMBOK to Agile : Human resource management

Human resource management is one of the knowledge areas of PMBOK. Agile is all about commitment, motivation, risk taking, transparency, self organizing teams etc… From this list, the importance of human resource management in agile project management is very evident. In order to be successful as an agile project manager (scrum master), competency in human resource management is very important. I must say that it is more important than the traditional models. In order to be successful as a leader in agile teams, one has to embrace servant leadership with both hands. Gandhi is the epitome of servant leadership. The concept of servant leadership revolves around the concept of ”All leaders servants first, and then become leaders”. Stephen Coveys concept of emotional bank account comes in handy here. When I do something good to you, I make a deposit. When I do something which you do not like, I make a withdrawal. As long as the deposits are more than the withdrawals, I have some amount of positive influence over you. The moment the withdrawals are more than the deposits, then problems will start cropping up. This simple concept is very difficult for people to digest, especially when they are mentored by command and control freaks.

Command and control will not work in high profile teams. During my formation years as a manager I had the shock of my life, when I transitioned from a company culture based on ”command and control” to ”servant leadership”, without any clue about this style of management. It took me a while to pick up the threads of servant leadership, and once you get used to it, one starts enjoying it. During my project management workshops, many introduces themselves as managers of a specific number of team members, and they take immense pride in the fact that they have control over so many people. In reality, do they have that kind of a control?. The following two questions will thrash this myth of a manager as a superman;

  • What will happen to you as a manager, if you complain about your team to the senior management?
  • What will happen to you as a manager, if the entire team complains about you to the senior management?

In both cases, the easiest viable solution is to change the manager than the team. So, all the managers are terribly dependent on their teams, and a manager is only as good as his team. Acceptance of this reality, is the starting point of mutual respect and servant leadership.


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