That special something

turnover is always a risk when organizations hire a new team member





Turnover is always a risk when organizations hire a new team member. Reviewing qualifications alone isn’t always enough to make sure the hire will be a good fit for the project team. Sometimes you have to rely on a sixth sense that identifies the right person for the job. We asked practitioners:

Trust Your Instincts

“If I like the candidate, then I typically go with my gut even if there is a specific skill or experience level shortfall.

When I was at IBM India, my team of around 300 employees and contractors was responsible for IT application services delivery for all telecom billing applications for a major client. The work was very hard, requiring long hours, and team morale was low. I was looking for a person to take up the role of an HR coordinator for this entire team.

I had already interviewed and turned down several candidates (both internal and external to IBM) when I met one who had put her IT career on hold for seven or more years while she took care of her growing family. In her own words, this long break was dissuading all potential employers. Plus she had no exposure to IBM policies and procedures relating to people management.

What struck me was her emotional intelligence: her ability to look at complex people problems and propose actions to address individual situations while not negatively impacting the whole population. I was very impressed and decided to hire her. By the time I left IBM, she had become the IBM diversity and inclusion leader in an important IBM unit, and a full-fledged subject matter expert in the diversity and inclusion space.

Bottom line: Trust your instincts about people. Be willing to go out on a limb. In most cases, you will get great results. In the remaining cases, you get an opportunity to learn.”

—Sujith Kattathara Bhaskaran, PMP, founder and CEO, PM Excellence Services, Cochin, India

Trust Recommendations

“A few years ago, we needed a good project manager—fast. But after utilizing many resources (job ads, searching the candidates in Project Management Professional (PMP)®-related forums, etc.), we were unable to find the right person.

One day the phone rang, and it was one of our senior project managers. He recommended a really good project manager with whom he had worked in the past. We met with the guy and were impressed by his project-related experience and knowledge. We decided to hire him, but were nervous: What if he failed to perform well?

But he proved us wrong: He used his skills and knowledge, had a positive attitude and energy, and made the stakeholders happy. Trusting our colleague’s recommendation paid off!”

—Maimona Ijaz Qadri, director of administration, Catco Kids, Karachi, Pakistan

Bounce Back Up

“Understanding project failures and lessons learned from past experiences is a good quality in any project manager.

One project manager who worked for me spent a substantial sum of funding in an attempt to develop a software upgrade in a past job. But it was a recurring failure that continued to be funded for several years. Eventually, the project was terminated. But he learned to deliver bad news to management and keep stakeholders informed throughout the project, giving plenty of warning when things were not progressing as planned. He also learned to accept the failure and bring an alternate plan with him when delivering the termination recommendation.

On another occasion, I selected a candidate for a position in the project team based on attitude and potential. Other candidates had more experience and knowledge but simply did not come across as someone who would grow and be passionate about the job. Passion for projects matters.”

—Manuel Perez, PMP, project manager, Tetra Tech, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Focus on Attitude

“What I look for in a candidate, in addition to solid project management knowledge and demonstrated experience, is the right attitude for project success.

A few months ago during a recruitment process, I found that even though all candidates had good experience managing projects, during interviews everyone focused on the triple constraint. I didn’t hear anything from them about how they addressed problems or identified risks.

So I asked about their personal techniques for overcoming problems and anticipating situations that could put the project in jeopardy. Then I followed up by asking, “How would you deliver the project to achieve or exceed customer expectations?”

The candidates’ answers to these questions revealed their true colors. The responses varied from person to person, but I could see who had the right attitude to deliver success.”

—Jesus Vazquez, PMP, project manager, GNC Mexico, Monterrey, Mexico

Best Laid Plans

Sometimes no matter how right it feels, you hire the wrong person for the job. PM Network columnist Sheilina Somani discusses her tactics for salvaging the situation in Managing Relationships: Sailing to Distant Shores on page 24.

Find Your Place

Share your tips for finding the right hire on the PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group.

Concrete Tactics

PMI’s Pulse of the Profession®: Capturing the Value of Project Management found that high-performing organizations are significantly more likely to focus on talent management.

According to the 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, conducted by ManpowerGroup, global organizations are investing in talent to help fight turnover. Here’s how:

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20% of employers aim to provide more training and development for existing staff. 18% use nontraditional recruiting practices, both internally and externally to the organization. 5% offer enhanced benefits or higher starting salaries.




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