30 de noviembre de 2014

Performance Appraisal for Project Managers

In 2002, PMI® published the first version of the standard “Project Manager Competency Development (PMCD) Framework”. In 2007 PMI® released the second edition. The main goal was to provide a guide to evaluate and manage the professional development of Project Managers.

Organizations should adapt this framework to their own needs. The standard assumes that competent Project Managers must show, by means of evidences, that they are proficient in three areas: Knowledge Skills, Performance Skills and Personal Skills.

  • Project Management Knowledge: They have the knowledge to manage project initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.
  • Project Management Performance: The ability to apply project management knowledge to achieve project goals.
  • Personal Competency: How they behave when managing projects, their attitudes and personal values.

According to PMI®, Project Management Knowledge is represented by the knowledge of the standard PMBOK®. Project Managers demonstrate this knowledge if they get the CAPM® credential (Certified Associated in Project Management) or the PMP® credential (Project Management Professional). For this reason, the standard is focused on developing performance and personal competences.

Performance competences are developed in 5 competences units, which are broken down into 30 performance elements, which are broken down into 122 performance criteria, which are broken down into 168 types of evidence.

Personal competences are developed in 6 competences units, 25 performance elements, 90 performance criteria, and 251 types of evidence.

Therefore, any performance appraisal system based on PMI® standard should consider more than 400 possible evidences. Appraisers should be able to score more than 200 performance criteria. This extraordinary complexity makes such a system quite impracticable.

On the other hand, it does not seem very “natural”  this way of judging Project Managers, so systematically, by means of evidences. If we agree on the statement “a project should only finish when stakeholders meet or exceed their expectations”, then the best way to assess performance is a satisfaction survey.

When measuring soft skills, it does not seem quite wise looking for written evidence on how effective a Project Manager has been. Maybe that Project Manager we are evaluating has a real domain expertise and yet he never has heard of the PMBOK®. We could have someone who initiates the project brilliantly without writing a Project Charter. We could have someone who solves a conflict outstandingly without writing a line (maybe what he did was talking to people involved or simply made them talk).

Performance Appraisal Systems should be kept simple and understandable by everyone. There is no other profession more goal oriented than Project Management. Hence, you can measure Project Managers competence by measuring their project results on every project. You may not have to evaluate theoretical and practical knowledge, since the means are implicit in the ends.

If the project ends up with a 50% of cost overrun, and this is a big surprise, it is clear that Project Manager has not controlled the cost performance baseline, but we don’t need to evaluate if he is proficient about tools and techniques. What is the point of assessing if he is proficient or not in Earned Value Management? He has not met the project cost goal, period.

If the project ends up with every team member burnt out, it is evident this Project Manager has to improve his soft skills.

The paradigm of 7 habits of effectiveness can be seen as a structure of competences needed by a Project Manager to get private and public victories, to be regularly successful managing projects.

Stephen Covey said that the fairest evaluation system for knowledge workers is a 360º performance appraisal system based on the 7 habits paradigm. The evaluated person, his managers, colleagues and direct reports could easily score each of the 7 habits.

This blog recommends this alternative way of evaluating Project Managers, using the 7 habits of an Effective Project Manager.

One example of appraisal result could be as represented bellow:

When the project is finished, every stakeholder (client, sponsor, manager, PMO, experts, team members, etc.) will have a valid opinion on the Project Manager performance.

Everybody should know how to respond to questions like:
  1. Has the Project Manager been truly committed to the project?
  2. Has the Project Manager clarified what to do, early enough?
  3. Has the Project Manager controlled scope, schedule and cost?
  4. Has the Project Manager managed properly uncertainty and conflicts?
  5. Has the Project Manager communicated effectively?
  6. Has the Project Manager been a good leader?
  7. Has the Project Manager learned valuable things?

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