Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Using performance management to increase project success

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is explaining the relevance of project management to those who are not directly responsible for managing projects. This week I met with an HR Director was fed up with projects which she saw as creating more problems than solutions as staff struggled to adopt the new deliverables.
We discussed the need to manage the implementation of what projects deliver as closely as we manage their development during the project lifecycle. Whilst PRINCE2 and other project approaches mention the need for effective implementation and handover, the activities are often specified as project closure activities rather than being embedded in the project from the beginning.
The HR Director asked me to include updating the performance management system as a standard project activity in her organisations project methodology.
Her reasons for this are simple. We know that people prioritise the tasks for which their performance is measured so if we want to drive use of project deliverables after we the project has closed and the project team has disbanded then we should plan for this. We can use performance management to ensure that the new ways of working are identified during testing and training and new performance metrics agreed and incorporated into job descriptions. We have to pass on the responsibility for use of the project deliverables as well as project deliverables that meet the user requirements.
Not unsurprisingly the HR Director said that this was such a simple step, she did not understand why it wasn’t mentioned in project management guidance. My answer was to explain that as project managers many of us do not have extensive experience in performance management because we are not line managers (I have built a career around avoiding the need to line manager large numbers of staff!) so the need to develop job descriptions, performance metrics and carry out staff appraisals is not in our DNA.

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