How Do I Hire The Right People?

NOTE: First posted at the PM College blog.

We had a great webinar on project, leadership, and business skills. We got some great reviews and I hope you enjoy it. To check it out, you see/hear the recording here (registration required). In the next few posts, I’m going to cover the key questions that were asked during the webinar. I will start with one that got to the heart of the challenge:

Are there good assessment tools available for [looking at whether candidates have the right skills]? Especially for new hires. Would hate to make a bad hiring decision.

Absolutely…and it’s one of the most value investments you can make. As we mentioned in the webinar, we just looked at a study (quoted in this post) that notes that 80 percent of employee turnover is driven by bad hiring decisions. That same post goes on the highlight the cost per bad hire: two and one-half time the role’s salary. In other words, a bad $100K hire may well cost you $250K!

PM College has a tried-and-tested Competency Assessment Program that directly addresses this need. Continue reading

Now THIS Is What I Mean By “Advanced” Training

We’ve had a ton of discussions with clients after the Project Management Institute (PMI)announcement that it would soon demand business and leadership training from its certification holders. Some organizations wanted just the facts – who, what, where, when, why, and how — then were on their way. A few weren’t interested for personal reasons: their organizations don’t require or reward PMI certification.

The most interesting talks, however, were with customers who didn’t really focus on the requirements at all. The original blog post or email had merely crystallized needs that they already had. We heard it again and again: “We’ve already had the basics, we’ve already put everyone through the curriculum. How do we get better, how do we advance?”

These kinds of conversations are music to my ears, because it means that we’re going to talk about building new and differentiated capabilities. In other words, these clients aren’t just thinking about industry standards and compliance. They now think strategically about how their staff’s strengths and weaknesses match up to their organization’s opportunities and threats.

So how does this play out in practice? Each firm or agency is different, but we believe there a few useful questions that help focus on the learning that your organization needs to advance.

  1. Knowledge and Skill Gaps: These are items that were simply missed in previous training or need formal reinforcement. Example course topics that address gaps:  How to Lead a Team;  How to Model, Analyze, and Improve Business Processes.
  2. Knowledge and Skill Mastery: Here’s where one truly goes beyond the basics and gets command of a subject. Courses like Project Cost & Schedule Management; Project Risk Management; Strategies for Effective Stakeholder Engagement; and  Vendor Relationship Management take one to the next level.
  3. Behavior Change: Here’s the real opportunity to breakthrough performance: ensuring that skills manifest themselves in behavior. Our simulations — for example, Managing by Project; Managing by Project: Construction; and Leadership in High-Performance Teams — move participants from mere understanding of skills to application of these skills back in the working world.

As always, if your organization would like discuss these ideas and how it will impact your project management training curriculum, please use the contact form below. We are happy to review your current curriculum, your upcoming learning plans, and make recommendations.

PMI Requires Business and Leadership Training

NOTE: My colleagues at PM College passed along the news that PMI is changing its PDU requirements. This post is adapted from our email to our customers.

Well, it’s now official: the Project Management Institute (PMI) demands strategy, business, and leadership skills from its certification holders. Its change to Professional Development Unit (PDU) requirements formalizes the shift away from the “project managers just need to know project management” mentality that used to pervade the profession. As we’ve noted: people skills and domain knowledge are essential to initiatives’ success.

If you or your staff are pursuing or renewing your PMP – or your organization wants to develop well-rounded, competent project talent — you will need to understand how these changes affect you.  Why?

As the global business environment and project management profession evolves, the [certification] program must adapt to provide development of new employer-desired skills…. The ideal skill set — the PMI Talent Triangle — is a combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise. (PMI 2015 Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program Updates)

Feedback from high-performing organizations drove three changes to certification requirements that PMO, learning, and talent leaders should be aware of:

The technical, business, and leadership juggler.

The original technical, business, and leadership juggler.

  1. The education professional development unit (PDU) requirement has changed. 60% of the PDUs must come from education (e.g., PMPs must have 35 of their 60 PDUs come from education )
  2. A new requirement is that certification holders must get education in all three skill areas:  Technical Project Management, Leadership, Strategic and Business Management.
  3. Additionally, a minimum of eight (8) PDU’s must be earned in each of the three skill areas; the remaining eleven (11) can come from any area.

PM College proactively recognized this need, and designed its course offerings to align to the three skill areas, so you and your staff can earn the PDUs required in each skill area. For example, among our most popular offerings:

If your organization would like to schedule time to discuss these changes and how it will impact your project management training curriculum, please use the contact form below. We are happy to review your current curriculum, your upcoming learning plans, and make recommendations.

 

Closing up the PM “professional” survey

I’m trying to tie up some loose ends, especially follow-ups promised in earlier blog posts (here).  In particular, here are the top two answers from the “Is Project Management a Profession Yet?” survey (survey here):

  • 38 percent: Yes, but second-tier — like engineering or non-university teaching (33 of 86 answers)
  • 26 percent: No, not yet — could reach at least second-tier profession (22 of 86 answers)

I’m with the “No, not yet” crowd.  I can see project management achieving some of professional attributes, but I see few in place now.   For example, certifications are all well and good — and the PMP is becoming more universal — but they are a long way from licensure.  Take a look at the some of the requirements, benefits, and documentation for the Professional Engineer license (here).

PM Quote of the Day — Emily Post

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use

I liked this quote because it provides an example of something I’ve found hard to explain: the difference between a skill and a competency.  In this case, the skill is knowing which fork is which.  Competence refers to the cluster of abilities, knowledge, skills, temperament, etc. required for a role. 

Competence in manners would involve not only knowing table settings, but other, fuzzier abilities — like understanding how to best to convey such knowledge.  For example, with someone who appears unsure when faced with an array of utensils, one could show empathy with their plight, something like: “I know how you feel.  Someone showed me this trick about starting with the utensils on the outside….”

Hey... wheres the fish fork?

Hey... who took my fish fork?

The “that’s not my role” delusion

I very much liked this post by J Schwan (here) about the dangers of over-specialization.  Some of the comments miss the point — J acknowledges the value of domain knowledge — which is that a role-bound workforce conspires against:

  1. Understanding how to optimize the whole vs one’s part.
  2. Remembering why one is doing a project in the first place.
  3. Accountability for results.

As J notes, it is easy to hide behind a “work to role” facade.  But that’s all it is, a facade and a thin, deluded one at that.  To be blunt, strictly bounded roles end up becoming jobs that get outsourced or automated.  I can’t imagine wanting to working in such an environment anyway.  

J paints a picture of a healthier technology workplace:

Sure we all have roles we prefer to play. I love technology architecture work, and if I’m working on a project that’s going to require more than a handful of people, I’ll bring in one of our PM gurus, because frankly, I’m not that great of a project manager. But I do know the difference between a Gant Chart and a Sprint Queue, and when it makes more sense to use one versus the other to manage a project. And I like the fact that our PMs understand the difference between a web server and an application server, and that our BA gurus have no qualms about doing QA work or rolling up there sleeves to fix some simple bugs if that’s what the project needs. 

Hat tips to Eric Brown (here) and Bas (here).

PM Profession Survey Answers — Fully Yes & No/Never

I’m starting the long-promised review of the answers to my survey: Is Project Management a Profession Yet?  I’ll ignore the “undecided” answers (8 percent) and start with the two extremes.

First the “nays”: five percent answered No — and it never will.  I’m not sure how one can be so confident that PM will never have any sort of professional status.  Project management already exhibits early markers of an emerging profession — certifications required for some jobs, graduate programs at respectable universities, professional associations — so “no and never” is a hard position to sustain.

That said, the “yeas” have a far tougher chore, IMO.  Yet 16 percent answered Yes, fully — like law, medicine, or academia.  Wow… now those are some rose-colored glasses.  If you think PM is a full-fledged profession, I suggest that you ask yourself these questions:

  • Does PM have a legal or regulatory framework underpinning it? 
  • Has anyone been arrested for practicing PM without a license?
  • Do you have to go to a accredited “PM School” to even be allowed to take a PM “Bar” Exam? 
  • Is there a “theory of projects” akin to the theoretical constructs that underpin even “soft” disciplines like history and economics?

More on the other answers in the next days.

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