Human Factors in Project Management

The term “human factors” encompasses the various influences on the project that its participants can have. In some cases, they will be positive, such as creativity or motivation, which can drive performance beyond expectations. However, in other situations, they will have an adverse effect, such as when team members engage in conflicts or are unmotivated to perform. As Wong (2007) asserts, modern project managers have to take all of these possibilities into consideration and create an environment that supports human emotional and intellectual needs. Some notable human factors include individual diversity, motivation, team behaviors, personal space, and the hierarchy of needs, though a massive number of others can be distinguished based on the theory used (Wong, 2007). Regardless of which approach the project manager uses, they are expected to guarantee excellent performance on the part of their subordinates.

As its name implies, the autocratic type of business organization is defined by a rigid top-down framework where leaders make the decisions and subordinates follow. The choice to consider human factors lies with the manager, who, in many cases, will ignore them and make the decisions themselves. As Bowman et al. (2019) note, this conflict with democratic values will typically lead to the emergence and intensification of human resource problems as they are overlooked and ignored by those who can address them. In modern organizations that employ systems and teams, however, there is more opportunity for each employee to participate in decision-making and contribute to the project in their unique manner. As a result, they can find a comfortable niche for themselves instead of being assigned one by a potentially unfamiliar superior. With appropriate managerial decisions and guidance, this approach can result in substantial human factor improvements.


Bowman, D. J. S., Van Wart, M. R., West, D. J. P., & Berman, E. M. (2019). Human resource management in public service: Paradoxes, processes, and problems. SAGE Publications.

Wong, Z. (2007). Human factors in project management: Concepts, tools, and techniques for inspiring teamwork and motivation. Jossey-Bass.

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