POSTED : October 11, 2016
BY : Sridhar Peddisetty

Once there was a company with a vast scrap yard that needed someone to guard it. So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job. Then someone thought, how would the watchman do the job without instructions? So the company decided to create a planning department and hired two people. One person was hired to write the instructions while the other person performed time studies. Later someone from the company thought, how would we know whether the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly…? So they created a quality control department and hired two people. One employee to do the studies and the other to write reports. After that, someone from the company thought, how are these people going to get paid…? So they created another set of positions, hiring two more people, a timekeeper and a payroll officer. Again someone from the company said, who would be accountable for all of these people…? So they created an administrative section, hiring three more people, an administrative officer, an assistant administrative officer and a legal secretary. Finally, after one year, an executive in the company realized they were $18,000 over budget and must cut-back on overall costs. So the company laid off the night watchman.

Tip#1: Identify your key project resources

Firstly, it’s very important to identify who are the key resources for your project. Normally the key resources for a project are those with niche or advanced skills and knowledge or a combination of skills and knowledge, which makes them indispensable. Once the key resources are identified, then it’s easier to follow the next tips in strategizing for them.

Tip#2: Identify tasks for key project resources

Identify tasks for key project resources and do resource leveling until no key resource is overloaded. In my earlier post Empower Your Team To Own Responsibilities, I had shared that the key to start empowering your team to own responsibilities is by making the list of tasks, which play to their strengths better and letting them own those tasks. Also in my earlier post Trust Your Team But Make Sure To Verify, I shared that it’s an important trait for the Scrum Master or Agile Project Manager to trust the self-performing team to execute and deliver on business value but verifying the same with stage gates is essential.

Tip#3: Understand what motivates them

Robust communication, leadership and emotional intelligence are necessary to effectively communicate with key project resources in order to inspire and motivate them. It is important for the Project Manager to have the ability to strike a balance between knowing what motivates the key project resources and what they are working on. Work with the key resources to identify their goals and fitting them into the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-bound) acronym.

Tip#4: Encourage them to challenge the status quo

Create a transparent, collaborative and productive environment in which project resources are encouraged to take calculative risks while challenging the status quo. If you want your key resources to take the risk of innovation then you have to give them the freedom to fail. We understand that often your best people are the ones who make the worst mistakes because your best people do the most complex work.

Tip#5: Plan a roadmap for their growth

It’s important to invest in your key resources and train them in emerging skills or knowledge. Most organizations do not plan roadmaps for their key resources to grow, fearing the risk that they may leave. Experience teaches us that it’s better to train key resources and risk they leave, than not planning a growth roadmap and risk that they stay.

If a drop of waterfalls in a lake, there is no identity. But if it falls on a leaf, it shines. So make sure to create an environment for your key project resources where their abilities and identity always shine.

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