If you want to attract the right people into your company, you may have to consider a drastic rethink of the way you structure your organisation. IAIN FRASER, group managing director of Project Plus says a project-management approach could be just what you need to entice highly skilled and highly mobile talent – a group he calls “global gypsies” – through your door.
As the global economy speeds up again, demand for skilled people is accelerating, just as those sought-after people are once again becoming highly mobile. This double-edged sword can put pressure on organisations and their ability to attract, develop and retain talent from a pool of “global gypsies”.
This pressure is not just caused by, or limited to, the realities of an increasingly bullish global economy, but rather by the ability and capacity of organisations to “get stuff done” more effectively. The current mantras of ‘better, faster, cheaper’ adopted by the forprofit market, or the ‘doing more for less’ imposed on government sectors have introduced increasing levels of complexity and risk that require more advanced skills to overcome.
However, many organisations, in my view, fail to achieve full business benefits from organisational goals, due to a reluctance to adopt new approaches that are necessary for attracting and retaining skilled talent. There is also a lack of understanding among organisations of their existing talent capability – or even lack of it in some cases. Relying on process alone to get stuff done in response to the new market mantras is doomed to fail, as it does not release the organisation from the constraints of process heaviness. Good people will deliver, despite poor process, but more, or even good, process does not compensate for poor performing people.
Three steps for success
So what do organisations need to do to counter these drivers and deliver more organisational benefits?
First, the need to re-think and re-structure their organisations to embrace portfolio, programme and project management disciplines. This means packaging all work into endeavours that are grouped and achieved via a project-based approach. Matrix type organisational structures will make this easier.
Second, executive and senior management levels need to up-skill so that they gain new skills that support project-based governance and the deployment of project teams that come together for a specific purpose (project or programmes), and then disband once that purpose has been achieved – or the project has been terminated.
Boards of directors must focus on vision and direction, and communicate that clearly and wholeheartedly while proactively facilitating the achievement of that vision rather than operate as another level of management structure.
If boards can focus on crafting the strategic direction from their vision, then the management levels can deploy portfolio, programme and project management approaches supported with effective governance and the development of new skills to achieve the goals set.
This will create ‘strategic alignment’ through the organisation while maintaining maximum flexibility and nimbleness to adjust as needs require. A full project-management approach to organisational structures allows for faster achievement of goals and objectives while maximising the relatively short availability of scarce skilled people. In other words, getting ahead.
Traditional management practices become enhanced with leadership that is applied at all levels of the organisational structure in order to support the portfolio, programme and project
approaches and speed up decision making. Third, it’s well known that complexity associated with organisational business and strategic plans is dramatically increasing. The previously mentioned mantras make sure of that. Stakeholder interests, scope management, faster delivery and more are piling pressure on teams to overcome challenges and perform, and piling pressure on leaders to lead.
Speeding up an organisation and increasing effectiveness are real challenges that require an integrated approach to solve. Speeding up and reducing waste are elements of a lean philosophy but above all it takes wise heads and change to become a higher performing organisation. Skill and knowledge training investments together with coaching and/or mentoring provide a greater return when compared to process orientated certification options.
So what’s a global gypsy?
Individuals and teams can research, consider, and act on vacancies from anywhere in the world – and you may not even be aware of it. Those people will often make engagement decisions that include factors other than just monetary based reward systems. Social networking and informal referrals will lead much of this activity. For example, you might get a group of young skilled professionals that are geographically spread networking via Facebook and asking “Is this organisation cool?” or, “Can we contract for 3-4 months to raise some cash for our next trip?” These people are “global gypsies”.
To attract these skilled “global gypsies”, and persuade them to set up camp and stay a while requires organisations to make themselves the most attractive they can be to those gypsies. This is more than branding or marketing. The attraction aspects need to be multi-faceted. They need to clearly demonstrate elements of excitement and empowerment, developmental opportunities, career path options and entrepreneurial extras. This will also mean budgeting for more elaborate development, reward and retention programmes that go beyond traditional bonus-type systems. The bottom-line for organisations is two-fold: Focus on attracting and developing the right people as well as balancing your structures and systems for better resource empowerment. This will create an organisation that can sustainably achieve higher performance, which, according to recent Project Management Institute global research, gives up to a 14 percent bottom-line benefit.
Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that?