Project management does not begin and end with focus on costs, supplies, timings, and fixtures and fittings. Each project tackled will also require the hiring, monitoring, and control of contractors and sub-contractors, and interaction with all other stakeholders. Thus the project manager is likely to become heavily involved with both day-to-day and big picture human resource issues.
As with every element of project management, the project manager should seek to learn lessons about how he or she and the team handled the human resource side. By applying the lessons learned, there will be an incremental improvement in the human resource skills of the project manager, and overall project management capabilities will improve because of this.
The result will be improved effectiveness, better ability to properly assess human resource requirements, and a project management team that is more able to meet and beat targets of cost, quality, and time.
Ask the right questions to learn the appropriate lessons
Only by questioning process and procedure can the project manager hope to fully analyse a completed project. The following questions are some of the most pertinent to assess the effectiveness of human resource management in the project management context, and we’ve divided into three categories for ease of reference:
· Did HR planning accurately identify the required resources and skills?
Was HR planning linked directly to the WBS?
Using the work breakdown structure, the project manager should be able to accurately identify the human resource requirement of each task: better human resource planning means better job and cost control.
Did the project team structure optimise project delivery?
This question examines the appropriate utilisation of individual skills and capabilities in project team structure, and forces the project manager to closely examine such issues.
Was work delegated appropriately?
This builds on the previous question, analysing the effectiveness of all involved in the project and asking if individual team leaders (and the project manager) ‘gave the right job to the right person’.
· Did the project team work as a unit?
Could any aspect of communication be improved?
How communication between project team members is conducted is a key issue to project success. It may also be the case that communications should be documented.
Was the actual performance accurately measured and reported?
Communication about performance should be a 360 degree process: review with the project team, and report and review with the client.
Were lessons learned continuously derived and corrective actions applied?
Having conducted continuous reviews of project progress, the project management team will need to apply lessons learned to the next stage and beyond.
· Was management willing to implement changes to HR where necessary?
Did conflict negatively impact the project?
In any project there is likely to be conflict, and conflict management is a key human resource skill. If the project was adversely affected by conflict, the project manager needs to learn lessons to improve in this area.
Were team members provided with feedback on their performance?
Feedback is the only way to create an environment where individuals and teams can improve performance: without feedback, things will stay the same.
Were team members provided with opportunities for professional and personal development?
If a shortfall in capability or the opportunity for improvement is noted through review and feedback, the project manager should provide CPD opportunities. This will help to improve the capability of the project tea going forward, and engenders trust and loyalty from the project team member.
When should you ask these questions?
Though the final analysis of a project and its human resource element will be made post project completion, the project manager should use questions such as those above throughout the project lifecycle. By doing this, the project manager will be better placed to address issues arising before, during, and after the project has completed. Learning lessons will then be a continuous process, which can only be good for project management outcomes.