The staffing process is the backbone of any project. Regardless of what best practices you leverage from management, if you fail to build a solid foundation with the right people, you are not going to achieve quality – whether you are delivering products or providing services. This doesn’t mean just hiring the folks who possess the right skill set, it means identifying and integrating individuals as part of your team who have a great attitude, approach and fit the culture of your company.
While having strong social skills can spark the interest of a project manager, it is not the be-all and end-all. I can hire a developer who sits and writes code all day. This person may be perfectly happy and a strong contributor, and needn’t have amazing social skills, but I do want to see a great attitude – strong work ethic and conscientious.
After having interviewed individuals from all over the spectrum and staffed countless projects, I’ve noticed a great attitude is hard to come by. I believe the vast majority of people intend to cooperate and do the right thing, but prioritizing a job well done is something I often times find missing in a prospect’s toolbox. Perhaps it’s the tireless work ethic that I became accustomed to through my parents and the older generation that has me jaded, but I find it to be a rare gem in today’s resource pool.
I think it goes without saying that it is easy to hire poor performers. This issue lies in the time it takes to onboard and remove them. This misused time and energy will leave a lot of slack for everyone else to pick up.
My least favorite type of team member is the “marginal performer.” This is someone who does just enough to perform a job technically, but no more. They are not failing, but their marginal performance is by no means an asset to the team. This is a characteristic that has the ability to impact the entire project because they can easily become the weakest link, becoming a drag on others.
During the hiring process, you want to weed these folks out and avoid them like the plague. Integrating them into the team and dealing with the multiple agitations of their “so-so” performance will have any manager feeling like they have a front row seat to watch the long, slow death of their project.
Finding an individual who not only has the right skill set, but also possesses a positive attitude and social skills is a rare commodity. If you’re on a project team or working within a PMO that requires a significant amount of stakeholder management, these are the folks who will help make your program prosper. Focusing a significant amount of time on grooming this group for additional responsibility is time well spent. These are the diamonds in the rough who will become your project lieutenants, and ultimately your next cadre of leaders.
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