5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Human Resources Knowledge Area)

1. Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 9 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Human Resources Knowledge Area.

2.  Human Resources Processes

Here’s a description of the four processes that are included in the Human Resources Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes.

Process Number & Name Process Description Tools & Techniques
9.1 Plan Human Resources Development Identifies and documents project roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships; creates a staffing management plan 1.  Organization charts and position descriptions 2.  Networking 3.  Organizational Theory 4.  Expert judgment 5.  Meetings
9.2  Acquire Project Team Confirms human resource availability and obtains the team necessary to complete project activities. 1.  Pre-assignment 2.  Negotiation 3.  Acquisition 4.  Virtual Teams 5.  Multi-criteria decision analysis
9.3  Develop Project Team Improves competencies, team member interaction, and overall team environment to enhance project performance. 1.  Interpersonal skills 2.  Training 3.  Team-building activities 4.  Ground rules 5.  Colocation 6.  Recognition and awards 7.  Personnel assessment tools
9.4  Manage Project Team Tracks team member performance, provides feedback, resolves issues, and manages changes to optimize project performance. 1.  Observation and conversation 2.  Project performance appraisals 3.  Conflict management 4.  Interpersonal skills
3.   Human Resources Tools & Techniques
Here is a closer look at the tools & techniques used in the various processes in the Human Resources Management Area.   The tools & techniques are pretty distinct for most of the processes, so it should be relatively easy, if you are given a certain tool & technique, to be able to guess which process it goes with.
a.  Organization charts and positional descriptions (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
These are not the organizational charts and position descriptions for the organization, but for the project itself.
b.  Networking  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
The PMBOK likes to use the trendy language of “human resource assets”, but I just mentally erase that jargon and replace it with the word “people”.   Networking is formal and informal interaction with others, and is one of the ways that can be used to assess who would be best to work on the project.
c.  Organizational Theory  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
Organizational theory exists in order that the project manager can choose a flexible leadership style that changes as the team’s maturity level changes.
d.  Expert judgment  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
In this case, the expert judgment is that of people who have experience with human resources management.
e.  Meetings  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
Any time you have a management plan you need meetings to engage the entire project team in the planning.   This is not just to brainstorm in order to come up with effective solutions to problems, but also to get buy-in from the entire team at the beginning of the project since they are all involved in its planning.
f.   Pre-assignment (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
A project may be approved with the express intent that certain people are designated to be involved on the project team in order to do jobs that they are particularly suited for.
g.  Negotiation (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
For project managers in a matrix organization, where they do not have the authority to acquire project team members on their own, but must do so through functional managers of various departments, negotiation may be needed to obtain those project team members.   Project managers may have to “borrow” team members who are currently working on other projects.
h.  Acquisition (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
Temporary or contract workers may be needed to be acquired to assist the organization for the duration of the project.
i.  Virtual Teams (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
Team members may be acquired from other branches of the organization in different locations around the world to form a “virtual team”.    Special care in communication planning must be taken into account for these virtual teams.
j.  Multi-criteria decision analysis (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
This is similar to the criteria used to choose a supplier, but in this case it is the company that has a choice of potential team members rather than suppliers.    These criteria are developed in order to choose the best person for a particular job or position on the team.
k.  Interpersonal skills (9.3 Develop Project Team, 9.4 Manage Project Team)
These are the so-called “soft skills” of communication skills, and emotional intelligence, which tend to be underrated when it comes to their importance on a project.    They are used in developing the team through the four stages of development (forming, storming, norming, and performing), and once the team reaches that final stage of performing, they are used for maintaining the team at that level until the project is done.
l.  Training (9.3 Develop Project Team)
These are all activities that enhance the technical skills and competencies of the project team members.
m.  Team-Building Activities (9.3 Develop Project Team)
These are activities that help individual team members work together effectively and successfully go through the various stages of development of a team (forming, storming, norming, and performing).
n.  Ground Rules (9.3 Develop Project Team)
The discussion of ground rules decrease misunderstandings, especially when it comes to interactions at team meetings.
o.  Colocation (9.3 Develop Project Team)
Colocation is the opposite of a virtual team, it is a team which is in the same physical location.   This can be done on a temporary basis to bring team members into a situation where they have more face-to-face contact than they normally would; even a team meeting is a form of colocation.
p.  Recognition and rewards (9.3 Develop Project Team)
This is to motivate team members to give their best efforts for the project, and should be given throughout the project life cycle and not just the end.
q.  Personnel assessment tools (9.3 Develop Project Team)
These tools are for giving insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the team members so that the project manager can make a productive team where the strengths of some members in any given area compensates for the weaknesses of others.
r.  Observation and conversation (9.4 Manage Project Team)
Never underestimate the power of these seemingly ordinary tools for a project manager to stay in touch with the attitudes of the team members.
s.  Project Performance Appraisals (9.4 Manage Project Team)
It is important for project team members to get feedback from the project manager so that can know specifically what they are doing right and what they need to improve upon.    This can also be time for the project manager to get feedback from the project team members regarding any issues they have regarding the project or other team members that may need to get resolved.
t.  Conflict Management (9.4 Manage Project Team)
Ground rules are designed to minimize conflict on a project, but they cannot eliminate it.   A project manager needs to be able to look at the conflict situation from the perspective of all sides of the conflict in order to facilitate a resolution.
These tools & techniques are fairly clear given the subject matter of dealing with human resources, also known as people.    One of the problems I have with the phrase “human resources” is the reduction of people to commodities or things.   When a company does this and dehumanizes their employees, it is done with the idea of short-term efficiency in mind, but it always, ALWAYS leads to loss of long-term effectiveness as employees no longer for feel that they, or their ideas, matter.   This is why these tools are, as I mentioned above, underrated in terms of their importance.
The next chapter deals with chapter 10 of the 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide, and that is the chapter on Communications Management.

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