Developing the Team

March 11, 2010

Despite all the high technology tools, material and and other resources you have available, it is the human resources that makes all the difference to a project. Thus their skills and other competence they have and how well they fit are important considerations prior to their induction into the team. Having been inducted into the team, after they have gone through the stormy team forming process, the team needs to be taken through a development process.

What does the project manager do!

The project team is possibly the most important resource a project manager can apply to a project to ensure its success. It is not enough to have a team that closely matches the roles & responsibilities description and the necessary skills mentioned in it. The match is never 100% in a realistic situation. Thus there is always a need for additional training do arrive at a fine match.The training required could be in hard or soft skills. The hard skills trainings will be about hard core technical areas and specifically in sub-topics that a team member is deficient in. Same applies to soft skill training needs.

So whikle the human resources personnel can and will help the project manager in documents these skill gaps. It is primarily the responsibility of the project manager to come up with a skill matrix that shows the training needs of each of the members.Many organizations have a process by which such training needs are identified as part of the annual appriisal process. At this exercise, typically, this is a 3 way process. The apprisee has his/her inputs, the appraiser usually mmoderates that by the way he sees the long-term deployment of the employee in the organization’s scheme of things. Finally the HR department usually gets involved in identifying the soft skill deficiencies. The utput of the process is usually the skill matrix mentioned earler. The appriser in such cases could be a functional or an operational manager to whom the employee repports to.

In case of project team this is the reponsibility of the project manager to ensure that appropriate training, hard or soft, narrows down the gap between what is needed and what his team currently has. His responsibility is to be very pragmatic about the needs. This could be a big risk to the project success if the team members are not appropriately equipped. This gap anallysis or the skill identification can be taken up as soon as the team settles down in their new assignment. The team formation storm should have passed them so that the intermediate leadership is identified and the truibe accepts them. These leaders will then be able to effectively contribute in the process.

Unlike the more long-term annual appraisal skill identification exercise, this is more immediate and need to be very focused on what is needed. Usually what is needed is more clearly known. The HR personnel also need to get to it very quickly. Untill the training is completed the corresponding team members are not able to contribute effectively. The project manager need to be absolutely honest about these requirements and not be swayed by any priority other than the needs of the project. Conducting a post training evaluation to how well the traning was conducted and how well the candidate did get trained are vital inputs. Whhile how ell the trainning was conducted is material for the process assets, hwo well the member got trained is offar more immediate concern to the health of the project.

In case of multi phase project where the need for the next phase changes substantially in the next phase, the assessment and the following training proggram will have to be conducted again at the end of the current phhase. These developmental activities are then a project manager’s professional responsibilty with a high attached importance.

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