Project management teams are always looking for high-achieving employees, but experienced PMP®s are in heavy demand and recruiting them can often be difficult and time consuming. What if you could look inside the Project Team instead, and transform your existing team members into the strong performers you need? With some careful planning and a commitment to excellence, it can be done, and with great results.
Identify those with the desire. The drive to progress is perhaps the most crucial trait any future high-performer needs to achieve success. If a team member has already voiced an interest in developing a deeper skill base, that makes for an easy selection. In addition, leaders in the Project Team should be on the lookout for workers who are eager, and who seem to take a greater-than-average interest in learning new things and expanding their areas of expertise.
Identify those with strong baseline skills. Throughout each project’s lifecycle, the leadership team will want to carefully watch for those Project Team members who demonstrate proficiency with project management fundamentals, even if they’re still green on the finer points. If your team needs someone to step up and take on new responsibilities, a team member that’s already proficient in the basics will be better able to move to the next level.
Identify those who are good learners. Some people pick up on new concepts faster than others. Because it’s important that those employees working to increase their skill sets be able to acquire new knowledge quickly and keep pace with fast-moving project tasks, team members who have already mastered the skill of learning will naturally expand their knowledge base more easily and with greater speed. This trait, however, shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Many high-achieving PMP®s have different learning curves. A strong desire is more important to success than how quickly an individual assimilates new information.
Once team members with good potential for advancement have been identified, the Project Team must do its part to help them succeed. Each employee will have a unique set of needs, and some will benefit more from one-on-one mentoring while others will excel when they’re able to immerse themselves in a project with only occasional guidance. Giving workers the support they require can usually be accomplished with a few simple strategies.
Provide the right opportunities. Even a driven and talented team member needs to be given appropriate tasks and responsibilities to ensure they’re able to succeed and keep the project moving forward. Look for opportunities that dovetail with the worker’s existing strengths, so they can focus their energy on those disciplines they’re still working to master without falling behind in other areas.
Provide solid leadership. Strong workers with the potential to become high achievers should be given the benefit of careful monitoring and access to an experienced PMP® who can answer questions and offer direction as needed. Similar to a mentoring relationship, the senior team member will need to be ready to provide guidance and help to fill in any experience gaps. It’s often helpful to partner a junior worker with a more seasoned PMP®, so knowledge transfer is integrated on a near-daily basis.
Provide good education. On-the-job instruction is crucial, but it must be augmented by a targeted project management training program designed to help the team member refine more advanced skills in a safe environment. Education that addresses specific competencies will allow the worker to become proficient more quickly. It should also put unfamiliar scenarios and new challenges in front of the employee. This is an excellent way to build better critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, both of which are important in helping good performers become great.