Leaders of major businesses, business organisations and trade unions combined in an unusual full page open letter to UK employers (Sunday Times 26th October 2008).
The open letter suggests that: “in an economic downturn, there is always a temptation for businesses – large and small, to cut spending on staff training. When times are tough, it looks a simple way to cut costs”.
It goes on to say; “Research in 2007 confirms that firms that don’t train are 2.5 times more likely to fail than those who do! Now is precisely the time to keep investing in the skills and talents of our people.”
So, is your company cutting back on training and project management training in particular? We have found some companies have certainly reduced their training investment. You will not be surprised to read that I believe this is a good time to increase the amount of training for those engaged in projects. I also believe it is a good time to review the type of training delivered to those involved with delivering projects.
Quite rightly there has been a very strong emphasis on project management skills; accredited training with PRINCE2 or PMI etc. This is all good stuff. It shows the “hard” skills needed to deliver a project effectively scoping, estimates, planning etc. There is nothing at all wrong with this however I believe we need to redress the balance focusing on “soft” skills, the people side of project management.
Project managers need to develop their soft skills to help them deal with real people and project issues:
- how to handle a person on the project team who does not deliver when they say they will
- influencing others in the company to spend time on the project when they have their own projects to deliver
- how to run an effective consultation meeting with a group of really articulate stakeholders
All of these demand a different skill set to dealing with “pure” project management issues.
Peter Burton of Statec sums it up with a strap line: “Turning soft skills into hard cash”. I wish I had thought of this great line!
I will be running a series of articles on “soft skills”; skills needed by all staff in the management and delivery of projects. The idea is to stimulate a debate over the addition of soft skills training to the overall development of people engaged in projects. Take a look here by what I mean and do look out for further articles on this issue. Why not take a look here
Meanwhile do remember; “research in 2007 confirms that firms that don’t train are 2.5 times more likely to fail than those who do”!