Human resource skills for project managers

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Dealing with human resources (HR) is a skill all of its own, one that can take much training and experience to be any good at, and a lot of patience to deal with the problems of the staff and management.  Let’s start at the basics – what are human resources?

What are Human Resources?

Human resources are the set of individuals who make up the workforce of a company or organisation. Laws and regulations relating to HR are time consuming and complex and there are many businesses that have dedicated HR departments.

What does the HR department do?

Business employees should be an asset.  A good and happy workforce can mean the difference between profit and loss and certainly in larger concerns will have their own department to look after the staff.  Smaller concerns may use a Human Resource Management Company (HRM).

Among some of the things the HR department or HRM would be responsible for include:

  • Employment laws are implemented
  • The health and safety policy is properly implemented
  • Any disagreements between staff and management are satisfied
  • Arrange training when needed
  • Holiday rotas are fair and correct
  • The correct staff are hired, including the advertising for and interviewing of prospective employees
  • Disciplinary action is taken where needed
  • There are no unfair dismissals

There are many other things an HR department would do and the staff that run these departments need to be very knowledgeable on all the laws and regulations. If they get it wrong the financial fines and penalties can be crippling.

HR Qualifications

Working in an HR department, certainly as a manager or team leader, is a very specialised job, which requires training, and there are qualifications that can be achieved in many different areas, such as:

  • Building a winning team
  • Equality issues
  • Training
  • Health and safety
  • Development
  • Sickness
  • Recruitment
  • Employment tribunals
  • Maternity and paternity
  • Employment laws

The list of subjects they need to know about is endless, but so is the amount of training on offer, it really depends on how qualified the individual wants to become.

How this affects a project manager

As a project manager it is helpful to have a basic understanding of as many facets of the business as possible. As the people hired will directly impact on the effectiveness of your team, and therefore your ability to deliver your project, it is important to clearly communicate with the HR department to ensure they clearly understand your needs.

Working in conjunction with them can also provide invaluable feedback on how employees feel about their working environment, allowing you to create a happier and more productive team.

The HR of a business is really important

The UK government, in its wisdom, has a law for just about everything to do with employers and employees; most of them are common sense and fair to both parties.  However, if an employer falls foul of the laws, the consequences can be severe. This is what the HR department should prevent, and why they are so important. The cost of running the department will be far less than the financial penalties that can be imposed for getting it wrong.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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