How Project Managers Can Help Retain the Talented Resources

January 31, 2012

Michigan Central Train Station in Detroit

Organization rise and fall based on people involved in leading, managing and supporting.

It has become a deciding factor for success in any organization to hire, nurture and retain the great talent.  Organizations have in past gone out of way to attract key talented resources from competitors.

There might be fancy deck of powerpoint presentaton produced by HR professionals on available programs to do all that, but is it the reality on ground? Is it working?  Are key people leaving organization or moving to different department? How can you ensure the success of your initiative if key talented resources do not want to stick around? As a project manager you get to see things first hand if policies or programs are working as expected.

Also, I think, it is not only HR’s function to attract and keep talented folks but project managers play a vital role in it. Job security, clarity of direction, level of engagment, opportunities available, benefits and work environment determine how talented resource make their mind up but Project Managers can also influence talented resoureces stay by  –

  1. Marketing the project, its benefit to customer and organization along with in what way it  can help resource grow professionally;
  2. Keeping the account of talent levels of each resource’s skills, background and career goals to make informed decisions;
  3. Offering or arranging mentoring sessions & directing the focus of talented and motivated employees to groom and engage resources;
  4. Delegating in light of what resources can or can not do, level of hand holding required, comfort level in taking risk for project success;
  5. Keeping the communication lines open, first listen then guide and supervise so that resource feels connected and knows he/she makes the difference;
  6. Accepting that mistakes will be made by resources, plan accordingly and anticipate to develop future leaders and managers;
  7. Finding challenging and creative assignments for talented resources so that resources can grow;
  8. Rewarding and recommending the resources in presence of key stakeholders;
  9. Giving or arranging opportunities to attend conferences, meetings and training to sharpen their saws; and
  10. Explaining how project management fits into the life cycle of product development or any project – it’s not asking for status and producing late tasks report.

This is a list of 10 points to start your thought process, please share what else should be added.  Hope to find out from your valuable contribution through comments.  Thanks for reading.

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11 Principles of Leadership

August 20, 2009

 I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles.  I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience. 

  1. Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well.  Be a brand that people want to associate with.
  4. Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow;  guide them if they fit somewhere else.
  5. Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
  6. Look after the welfare of your employees – the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need.  Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
  7. Keep everyone well informed  – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume –  aks and tell.
  8. Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how;  goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
  10. Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
  11. Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Thanks for reading and welcome your input.  Have a great day.


Life is bigger than that!

December 19, 2008

2008 is nearing the completion of business work days and it was one of the eventful year.  We have seen all from US election to Canadian elections, Wall-street meltdown to Automotive bailout, Saturday Night Live comedy to economic worries.  All the stuff, never thought of. 

But when it comes to our professional life, one needs to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.  I have mentored and provided guidance to few people over the year and have also asked for advice from my peers.  Some people either make small issues into big problems or do not even have clue what is wrong.  Here are some of the points to consider-

  1. Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
  2. Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
  3. Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
  4. Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance.   Life is bigger than that!
  5. Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say.  Give credit where deserved.
  6. Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor.  It may be wise to stay quiet.
  7. If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
  8. Help others grow and learn.  Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
  9. Take vacation or take time out.  Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
  10. Try to listen.  Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
  11. Dress according to your job profile, at least.
  12. Do not make ‘difference of opinions’ at work your personal issue.

I firmly believe if we are serious to improve ourselves, we can start afresh anytime.  Its never too late and Life is bigger than that! 

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.


Fast, Cheap AND Good

August 5, 2008

Good, Fast or Cheap

Can’t pick any two? You also need all three – fast, cheap and good? 

It has been very commonly used set of options in I.T. when offering an alternative or usually when dealing with issues from outsourced service.  Someone will come and say – “Pick any two!” 

Sometime ago I was involved in a project where we had to pick any two options and it was very hard to leave out the third one.  Many times we had to leave ‘cheap’ and other times ‘fast’,  for us ‘good’ was essential and paid the price accordingly.  We had to compensate for third left out option through continuous improvement.  I kind of thought that this is the  dilemma every one will be facing.  But it is not the case as I am finding out.  Things are getting better.

Read the rest of this entry »


DiSC model – Management Styles

June 30, 2008

I completed DiSC (stands for Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) training last week and fount it interesting.   DiSC confirms one thing, different strokes for different folks.

DiSC is a system to help you find out similar and unique characteristics among people.  It also shows person’s behavioural preferences and helps to identify different management styles that can lead to obtain better results through interaction. 

According to the DiSC model, there are four management styles – by Dominance, by influence, by Steadiness, and by Conscientiousness.

Series of questions lead to a specific DiSC profile, that tells you what is your score and what is you dominant style of management and what are your supportive styles. 

D – Dominant : these people are active and questioning; these are direct and competitive in nature.  These people want to ‘get it done’.

i – Influence : these people are active and accepting; motivated, enthusiastic, sociable and lively. 

S – Steadiness : these people are thoughtful and accepting; patient and even tempered, accommodating. 

C– Conscientiousness : these people are thoughtful and questioning; kind of private with analytical abilities and task oriented.  Main objective is to ‘get it right’.

As we know everyone is unique and all have different ways of interacting.  Imagine, I interact with a person who has dominant  style of ‘Conscientiousness‘ (private and task oriented).  I pretend to be of ‘influence‘ (sociable and enthusiastic) dominant style; my interaction with that person can not be productive as I may not be providing the specific instructions that other person needs. 

Why is that?  Because people with dominant ‘infulence’ style mix personal talk with business discussions, becoming informal and emotionally expressive leaving the ‘Conscientiousness’ style person unclear or confuse as Max requires specific task oriented info and does not express himself emotionally.

How it will help me?  It lists what are key strengths, what things are overused, what could be the limitations and what changes should be made in management style that make one more effective.

Have you ever taken DiSC and Meyers-Briggs assessment?  What are your thoughts? Did you benefit from it?  Please share your thoughts.  Thank you for reading. 

More info –

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment 
  2. One of the best books on the application of DiSC is by Keith Ayers titled “Engagement is Not Enough.

Cheese Moved? Doesn’t Matter.

March 5, 2008

We, as a professional, are hired by organizations to deliver results and perform. As time passes, our daily job becomes our universe.  We spend our energies resolving problems, improving processes, saving money and many other good things.  Sometimes we are ignorant and sometimes we are so busy handling all the situations at the job, we do not realize that whole world has changed and we are still there.  We find that new technologies, processes, ideologies, concepts and trends have taken over what we used to do.  And when we realize, then blame our employer for not guiding us, showing us the right path, etc.  Remember, we are professionals and professionals know all about their field of expertise.

 When I see clueless people in the situations when their cheese (i.e. work) is moved (or gone), I tell them to stop complaining but learn the lesson from it and take action. 

Here are 11 points I tell (and remind) people to avoid becoming obsolete

  1. Subscribe to professional/trade  magazines and journals and read ( or go to library, but stay up-to-date on what is happening).
  2. Bookmark and frequently checkout websites dealing with news & views related to your field of expertise.
  3. Read some good books on the subject.  Check Amazon.com’s ratings and views before buying. 
  4. Become member & get involved in professional organizations in your chosen field.
  5. Volunteer your time & services in your chosen field or for any good cause.
  6. Mentor and guide other people, help people grow, offer help selflessly.
  7. Attend seminars or conferences; it does not matter if you got to spend few hundreds from your own pocket and on yourself.
  8. Read some good self-help books on personal development and personal finance.
  9. Grow your network, if good people can not find you; you go out and find for your networking.  Interaction is the key.
  10. Always keep learning new things in your chosen field, and
  11. Change with time.

You will find out many successful people are already doing these above mentioned things to grow their professional network and knowledge base. 

I am certainly interested in what you got to say on this subject.  Everyone has unique experience and lets share our thoughts and learn from each other.

 Thank you for visiting and reading the post.  I appreciate it.  Have a good time.


Leading Creative Employees

February 1, 2008

There are always some special people in teams who are very much techie, creative and loaded with specific knowledge.  Lets call these employees creative people in this post.

These creative people provide tremendous value to organization through application of their knowledge and expertise.  These really smart and creative people need nurturing environment and motivation. When leading these creative people, keep in mind that they may

  1. think they know more than anyone (or know everything);
  2. do not want to be led (know what, how and why);
  3. do not want to follow the process (think its bureaucracy);
  4. want to discuss the solution with higher authority (by-pass chain of command);
  5. expect people to come and ask for help (until then they keep quiet);
  6. show their exceptional knowledge in group meetings;
  7. become poor listeners and jump to solution (feel they know problem already);
  8. dislike to say thank you for any assistance;
  9. feel attached to the solution they offered (won’t accept alternate);
  10. stop contributing if ignored;
  11. want praise and recognition (not always care about position);
  12. want challenges and new things to work on.

Leading creative people require smart leadership.  Smart leaders will help these creative employee contribute by creating environment where they feel valuable while making sure that other employees also flourish. 

Smart leaders demonstrate their expertise and authority over creative employees quietly by not pushing them or by not showing them who is the boss.  Smart leader also makes sure that they know what organization’s strategic goals and objectives are; but does not dictate how to achieve.  These creative people can contribute beyond expectations when their leader becomes their coach-cum-mentor-cum-guardian.

Not all the points may apply in any given situation and there might be other examples as well.  I am interested to hear your thoughts on this.  Please leave comments.  Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!


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