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Staff Development: A Key Success Factor in Project Management
By Michael L Young

How many times have you read the term ‘Staff Development’ in a duty statement and sighed or rolled your eyes and then set about identifying the right “buzz words” to say at interview to secure you the job?

The thing is – a great project team leader is one who takes responsibility for making sure team members have the skills, knowledge and experience required to produce outstanding results. At Transformed we focus on a number of key elements that make up staff development:

  1. Develop and Articulate a Vision

    Develop a shared vision among all project members and articulate a common set of goals and expectations. A vision shouldn’t be written in the meeting minutes and forgotten – assess regularly the team’s progress against the vision and goals and identify where there are gaps that need to be addressed.

  2. Invest in Training and Development

    Avoid ‘quick fix’ solutions to problems. Training and development should be long-term and continuing over time in order to respond to team members needs as they are changing from novices to experts in the new project.

  3. Assess or Monitor Progress

    Discuss plans for individual development and regularly assess team members’ progress and needs. Leaders are frequently uncomfortable in this role. However, studies show that greater frequency of discussion around learning needs results in a feeling of being supported and the fruit is better motivation.

  4. Provide Continuous Assistance

    This tactic by any other name – coaching, consultation, follow-up – is the same. It is the provision of assistance based on information gleaned through discussion of learning needs. Team members will be more comfortable with the leader’s assessment of their progress when it is followed by assistance to improve.

  5. Plan and Provide Learning Resources

    Time is precious and so, for team members to keep up to date, make available books, online resources, training programs and on-the-job opportunities for them to readily access. Make learning easy!

  6. Create a Context Conducive to Learning

    When team members share a vision of what they want to achieve, broadly participate in decision making and think about continuous improvement, they are functioning in a culture conducive to learning. In such a culture, relationships of all members are caring and supportive. Creating such a culture is a long-term endeavour, but once well established, it endures for a long time.

Michael Young is Principal Consultant with ‘Transformed’ – Project Management Unleashed.

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