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Are You Aligning Employee’s Skills to the Projects They Are Assigned?

Frequently, when I’m brought in to a company to evaluate projects or major initiatives that are going off track I find – among other issues – one common thread from client to client – employees assigned to do the work who really don’t have the necessary skills. They were assigned because they have done a good job on past projects, they are individuals others enjoy working alongside or they just happened to have some free time. Not the best way to get your projects completed.

When employees don’t have the skills to do the job they are assigned, it is frustrating and stressful for them. They feel inadequate and incompetent. They can disengage. They feel as if they are being set up to fail. And think about how the owner of the project feels – stressed, frustrated, annoyed, worried about failing.

Even when which projects will be completed is decided upon early on as part of strategic planning, I consistently see clients who neglect to consider resource needs. Some projects need internal resources, some may utilize contract resources and others may require new hires within the organization. In order to assist clients, as part of every strategic planning session I lead, when projects are selected, I ask the following questions:

  • Do we have the resources needed to work on the project (right skills, experience, expertise)?
  • Do we have the technology needed to manage/ facilitate the project and to support the project after implementation?
  • Do we have the resources needed to support the project upon implementation?

Usually the budget is already being discussed as well as timing of the projects. It’s the resources we tend to forget about in planning!

Now, if projects are planned sufficiently, with enough time for completion without being rushed, you can use them as learning opportunities for employees. In such situations, I suggest pairing someone who is qualified – right skills, experiences, expertise – with a more junior employee to enable for learning opportunities for both employees. The more senior employee learns how to mentor others and the more junior employee gains essential skills for contributing to the company’s goals.

Consider having a database (such as your HRIS system) to track employee’s skills and experiences, past project work, and particular areas of expertise. Also track current workloads of employees – projects they are already assigned to or will be assigned to. You can’t launch a project that requires financial experience and your employees with financial experience are tied up on another initiative. Plan your workforce needs effectively, mapped to upcoming projects and initiatives that require resources for completion.

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