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Addressing the Skills Gap, or How to Retain Talents

Jack Grabovski
March 28, 2014

Hiring professionals for new jobs or replacing those workers who have left is challenging for many companies, especially for those specializing in manufacturing and distribution. Today almost 80% of hiring managers and HR professionals cannot find necessary talents to fill critical project roles.

Retain talents

source: flickr.com

Traditionally, recruiters point out 3 key areas that can help ensure success in addressing this skills gap. These areas are Retaining talents, Training & development, and Recruiting. However, before you go and retain your talents or provide some training, first you need to understand what motivates each project manager and start there.

So how do you think which qualities are essential for a project manager to excel? If you asked me this question, I would say that there were 3 skills: Leadership, Communication, and Integration ability. Let me tell you more about these skills.

Leadership. Can you influence others?

Too many people want to lead, not to be led, however only few actually have the capability to influence others. And this is a big problem in project management. Since project success directly depends on effective leadership, senior management cannot just overlook or neglect this skill when allocating project roles.

Most likely, a person who has the ability to influence others will be able to address roadblocks upfront, measure and improve project performance, and focus the team on the right process and expected results. However, when you see that the team doesn’t look up to the manager, you are in big trouble because your project will definitely fail without true leadership.

Communication. How effectively do you share information?

Communication and presentation skills help effectively send information back and forth to project participants. Even in technical fields executives need to improve their communication skills, not just use tech specifications and file logs to present their products or updates to marketers and other non-tech personnel.

How do you communicate the bad news? Do you just drop information on your team members or usually have a discussion on potential issues and encourage team input? Do you keep everyone up to date on the project’s progress? Finally, do you seem interested? And how effectively do you communicate the value your project is delivering?

Integration. How well can you synthesize data and tasks?

Communication skills allow for effective information sharing, however it does not let you synthesize this information and real tasks of your team. If you are unable to quickly gather necessary information about a problem/situation and understand how this information integrates with real actions, you are likely to quickly lose respect and fail with your management role.

Deep integration between the data and tasks doesn’t require that you execute the entire project yourself or that you understand the problem upfront, but it requires that you are able to understand connections, see trends and draw conclusions.

So, now that you have identified the key skills to look for among your personnel and candidates, you need to do everything possible to retain top talents. Just take a step back to look at each person and analyze how he or she is delivering results in a separate project or the entire company. It might surprise you how differently people are motivated. Some appreciate a simple “Thank you”, others appreciate interesting work or expect recognition of their value in decision making.

As a true leader, you need to be able to evaluate each employee’s potential and use the right motivation methods in order to retain this talent. However, it is an arduous task, be ready to be diligent. Never try to hire the less expensive resource and hope for the best. Remember, the bottom line circles back to leadership. Do not give up and do always help your team overcome roadblocks.

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