Monday, July 26, 2010

Spotting Talent

Spotting project management talent typically involves looking at our pool of project engineers. The process is a bit of a crystal ball exercise - - observing the skills amongst your project engineers and then projecting to a project management role. Three project management skills should be taken into consideration when looking at your project engineers and then projecting to the next level:
  1. Decision Making - - Decision making at the project management level should have a focus on those "Fork in the Road" moments. Every project faces a critical point in which the project team arrives at a certain point in the project path or road - - the spot where decisions must be made regarding the direction or path the team and project should travel. Experience, skill, wisdom - - combined with a desire to be a leader and provide the necessary management functions - - aid the project manager in deciding which path to venture. It might not be the "best path" - - it might be the "least worst path" - - this to is fundamental to decision making. A key question for project engineers moving to the project management level - - does he or she have the necessary experience, capabilities, and attributes to guide a team once they arrive at a critical junction? Do they want to be the one making the decisions at this critical point?
  2. Problem Solving - - Project managers solve problems. Problem solving at the project engineering level typically has a focus on depth - - narrow problems and the required narrow solutions - - that are primarily technical in nature. The constraints were always technical - - performance, operations, and financial. On the other hand, problem solving at the project management level is about managing breadth - - your problems will range from the technical to resource limitations to schedule shortfalls to rate of return. The ability to manage breadth will be a key performance metric as one moves from an environment of 100% technical engineering to a complex mixture of engineering and management.
  3. Coping - - Project managers must have great coping skills - - from the excitement of project celebrations to failures, frustrations, and disappointments. No one is perfect - - no project is perfect. You have to deal with enormously complex problems and people. You must have the inclination and ability to want to learn from mistakes. It is important for the project engineer looking at project management to understand the path to success starts with failure - - you have to learn to be a good failure before you can be a outstanding success. History is full of this example.

Think like a baseball scout - - how will you star project engineers project to the major leagues of project management? Think and observe in the context of decision making, problem solving, and coping.

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