Softskills in project management

This article will give a short introduction about softskills and stress management in a project. This is necessary because if projects fail then in 80% of the cases it is a problem between multiple human beings and not a technical problem.

Men lying on the keyboard because of stress


A good project is a temporary organization with a clear hierarchical structure. The highest position has the project manager and it follows the highlander principle:

There can only be one!

The project manager organizes and controls the communication in the project. Based on management style they might let everybody talk to each other or they might want to have a centralized communication where everything goes through them. There is no right or wrong as long as there a short response times. The average response time should be under 30 minutes.

How do I know that I communicate efficiently in my project?

  1. Decisions are taken in time and are respected and accepted by everyone in the project
  2. Even in doubt there is trust between each other in the project and people are following the same goals
  3. Every meeting has an agenda and the meeting minutes contain documented decisions and action items that are assigned to one person

Team management

In the current world we need team players. The task are just too big to conquer them alone. In a team it is necessary to have different types of people. At incentergy we are using three models from social psychology to judge and lead our projects. The first one is Theme-centered_interaction by Ruth Cohen, the second one are the Belbin Team roles by Meredity Belbin and the third one is Tuckman’s stages of group development.

Belbin team roles

Belbin defined 9 different kind of people e.g. Shaper, Plant, Resource Investigator etc. every role has different type of characteristics e.g. the Shaper is powerful and likes to takes risks. The plant is a little bit weird but very intelligent and can solve problems in unconventional ways.

In a complex project you will need all kinds of roles. Further as the project manager you need to know how the people feel and how to treat them to deliver great results.

Theme centered interaction

TCI is a model for groups to improve their abilities and give every individual the possibility to enhance. It has 4 big topic:

  • It (german: Es)
  • I (german: Ich)
  • We (german: Wir)
  • Globe (german: Kontext)

Every person is associated in one of these topics. The project manager can observes these associations and always has to balance between them.

The picture below shows a team and how they are associated with the different factors (german). This was a highly efficient and balanced team.

Roles of a team

Tuckman’s stages of group development

Every team has to go through certain stages before they can work productively:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

The project manager has to make sure that the “Perfoming” stage is reached as fast as possible. When human conflicts arise they have to mediate and make sure that such incidents do not harm the project goals.

Stress management

I just watched a fantastic video from Kelly McGonigal. She claims that stress is only harmful if you think it is harmful. You can see the video here:

So for a project manager this means that they have to explain to everyone that stress gives you super powers for getting the job done. To formulate this a little bit more provoking:

Stop bitching and get shit done.

In one of our projects the following german postcard became famous:
Stop bitching, getting shit done.


This is one of the most important points to lead the project. Leading means to do everything to reach the goals.

Führung ist nicht, dass die Leute wissen was Sie müssen, sondern dass Sie wollen was sie sollen. (englisch: Leadership is not that people know what they have to do but that they want what they should do)

If you want people to like what they do you have to spend identity. There are 4 different ways to do so:

  1. Product and Performance
  2. Brand and Marketing
  3. Leadership
  4. Strategy and company culture

If you want to enhance your softskills in your online marketing projects please get in touch with us.

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