Managing Talent: It’s not just a necessity, it’s an investment for the future – Canadian Government Executive

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January 15, 2015

Managing Talent: It’s not just a necessity, it’s an investment for the future

Many people say that managing projects is all about managing people – your stakeholders, your customers, your public, your sponsors.

The people aspect of project management goes beyond managing the actual project, however. Like many endeavors, getting good project results and achieving your strategic initiatives is a matter of talent management – making sure the right people are on the right projects, taking care of those people through training and career paths to make sure they stick around, and, if necessary, bringing new people in.

Jack Welch, former chairman of GE, once said, “This whole game of business revolves around one thing. You build the best team, you win.” Given the impact project management has on strategic initiatives and the premium organizations place on those initiatives, the potential benefits are great for those that take developing project talent seriously.

Canada’s Department of Defence, Materiel Group, has recognized the importance of making sure the right people are on the right projects through the development of a Project Management Competency Development Program (PMCD). Faced with some of the largest and most complex projects within the Federal government, the DND (Materiel) PMCD is a program with the goal to ensure that competencies of project managers are aligned with the complexity of the projects being managed.

“It is exciting to note the progress we have made in advancing the professional development of our project management teams, so necessary for the successful delivery of the Canada First Defence Strategy,” stated John Turner, Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel), Department of Defence. “The Project Management Competency Development initiative is now well underway, and is a key component of our goal of increasing the professionalization of our people.”

Research provides insight
To spotlight and lead the discussion on this crucial subject, PMI recently released its latest Thought Leadership Series: Talent Management: Powering Strategic Initiatives in the PMO. This series identifies how well companies are managing strategic talent, explores the characteristics of organizations that excel at talent management and highlights areas for improvement. Public and private sector organizations—both large and small—will see the benefits of formalizing their talent management practices: An engaged and experienced staff leads to project and program success.

The research was conducted in partnership with PwC, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Human Systems International (HSI). The series provides executive-level insight into how talent management impacts project management practitioners and the successful implementation rate of strategic initiatives.

More than 40 percent surveyed in the EIU and PMI study Rally the Talent to Win: Transforming Strategy into Reality say that talent deficiencies sometimes significantly hampered their strategy implementation efforts over the last three years. Thirty-five percent of respondents say that strategy implementation was hampered frequently.

Other key findings in this report include:

• Talent management, connected to the implementation of strategic initiatives, receives too little attention. Just 41 percent of respondents indicate their organization has a broadly understood and accepted approach to strategic talent development.
• C-suite executives must step up. Only 23 percent of respondents believe senior leadership gives strategic talent management the priority it deserves.
• Project managers can expect organizations to improve their focus on talent management. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents say that they expect a significant increase in C-suite time and attention to at least one element of strategic talent management over the next three years. Seventy-five percent believe improving talent management processes will be their biggest or a leading challenge for improving strategic effectiveness during that period.

Examples of excellence
In Spotlight on Success: Developing Talent for Strategic Impact, HSI and PMI uncover examples of excellence in recruiting, retaining, managing and developing the high-potential project, program and portfolio management talent required to execute an organization’s strategic initiatives. Findings of this report include:

• Organizations can learn from one another. PMI’s Thought Leadership series identifies initiatives that are adaptable across the spectrum of organizations that recognize the critical link between project management excellence and strategic success.
• Creating a culture that supports employees and the project community will improve recruitment and retention. Organizations that clearly articulate their core values and commitment to the community are seen as “employers of choice.”
• Project management talent will see organizations strengthen their focus on recruitment, retention, training, development, certification and mentoring. Interviewees for this research identified a range of factors that make for desirable employers.

Alignment is critical
The PwC and PMI capstone study Talent Management: Powering Strategic Initiatives in the PMO identifies and explores the characteristics of organizations that excel at talent management: strong alignment between human resources (HR) and an organization’s strategic initiatives and objectives, and high maturity in recruiting, retaining and developing the best talent to manage strategic initiatives successfully.
Visit www.pmi.org/talentmanagement to download the three reports.

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