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Demand Overtakes Supply on Project Practitioners!

How does one retain project practitioners in a company when the demand is overtaking the supply on project practitioners?

As per Project Management Talent Gap Report, PMI 2014, it states that by 2020, 15.7 million new project management jobs will be added around the globe, with an economic impact of more than US$ 18 trillion.

In other words the current project work force, especially the talents in project management, will have plenty of opportunities to move on. This is great news if you are a PM or PMP!

Therefore it is of paramount importance to retain project practitioners in the company and build a strong team around the talents. This is not just for the sustainability of the company, it is also essential for on-going projects. Usually projects are on a tight timeline and staff turnover in a running project can cause some big problems; one of which is outgoing knowledge. Missing resources have a direct correlation to delays in delivering a project. Additionally hiring new staff is time consuming and costly because you have to catch them up on the project, train them and if that isn’t enough they need to learn the company culture. New staff usually aren’t really effective in a project until they have been on the project for at least three (3) to six (6) months.

Project staff can also be easily forgotten in the talent management activities since they need to get the project delivered. It can seems as if there is no time for talent management. However, talents have a “work-load” attractor factor. Because they are talented and work gets done, they attract more and more work. In many personal cases, these talents carry out the work but forget to delegate or lead a team to support them in their activities. And this is exactly the point when talent management should kick in, led by the management.

Here are some key points to look out for in talent management:

  1. Recognising these talents and acknowledge that they have the managements’ attention.
  2. Assess the talented people, define the strengths and potential areas for improvement.
  3. Assign a mentor or coach to increase the capacity on the strength and take specific measures to improve weaknesses.
  4. Review the project organisation chart and the corporate organisation chart for succession planning and career path.
  5. “Use” the talents to train the other staff in the project on technical or personal topics to ensure the knowledge flow within the organisation.
  6. Link the talents to the corporate strategy, vision and culture and empower for strategic leadership.
  7. Pay them well. However, payment is not everything. It’s the overall treatment of people by the superior and the management which makes people stay or leave.

In summary, Richard Branson said it best when he said, “TRAIN PEOPLE WELL ENOUGH SO THEY CAN LEAVE – TREAT THEM WELL ENOUGH SO THEY DON’T WANT TO”.

Again, a high staff turnover is detrimental to projects. It is wise to identify those who have the talent and the means to make projects happen and then keep them around!


Peter Wyss