Why Project Management Skills are Important for HR
Nicola Cronin
4 minutes
December 11, 2020

The HR department is in charge of the most valuable resource of a company – people.

In addition, HR professionals have a wide range of responsibilities, such as finding the right people for the right position, training, keeping track of performance, making sure everyone is satisfied with their current state and much more.

So, when you think about it, HR professionals have similar responsibilities to Project Managers. For this reason alone, a person working in HR needs to have solid project management skills before they can advance their career.

In addition, new technologies and the current state of the world brought new challenges for the HR field. People work mostly from home nowadays, and business partners are more fond of video conferences than ever. While this complicates things, the right skills can help you face the change and lead everyone towards embracing the new way of doing things.

As such, today we will discuss why HR professionals should take a peek over the fence, in the yard of their PM colleagues and how some project management skills can be a career driving force.

1. Planning & Risk Management are Valuable Skills for HR

When it comes to careers in Project Management, the options are quite varied. After all, every industry needs people capable of managing projects and leading successful teams. However, the skills are quite similar, regardless of the industry.

At the base, the job of a PM is to manage the available resources (people in their team, equipment, software, other devices & tools) and budget, and make sure the established goals are achieved on time. Building on that, the PM also needs to keep track of each individual’s progress and make sure the team works as a whole.

On a more advanced level, project managers are risk mitigators. They keep track of the entire project, from conception to product release, and identify the problems that may hinder progress along the way. Once identified, a problem can be easily solved using the available resources and project management skills.

Now, as an HR professional, your job is quite the same, only at a bigger level. Your job doesn’t just extend to a team; you are in charge of taking care of the entire human resource of the company, from top to bottom.

Since HR professionals manage the human side of a business, skills like coordination, risk management, and delegation are extremely useful. Just like a PM, an HR manager has to identify the best people for available positions and carefully help them achieve success within the organization.

In addition, PMs are extremely good at planning. In fact, you can’t find a successful project manager who doesn’t have several plans weighing on their mind at any given time of the day. Furthermore, a plan made by a PM will include information (in detail) on the objectives they want to meet, the scope of each task, deadlines, budget and cost estimate, risk assessments, and a lot more.

And yes, highly skilled PMs will apply the same level of planning whether they are working on a new high-tech product or their shopping list!

HR professionals can use this dedication to proper planning to manage multiple projects at once without losing track of other duties. For instance, a well-structured planning system can help you better understand task priorities and act accordingly.

2. HR Projects Can Influence Everyone

Unlike a PM, the actions of HR professionals can have broad implications for the employees and the company owners. As such, their responsibility is several levels higher, and by default, a mistake will be more damaging.

However, a person with good project management skills can keep track of their actions and their implications. Furthermore, they will be capable to delegate efficiently and mitigate risks before anything major goes sideways.

If we take a closer look at almost any HR project, it’s easy to notice that the main goal is better workforce productivity, which in turn drives company profits. As such, the project doesn’t just affect a few customers. Failure will also affect the owners, shareholders, and other people involved with the company.

To avoid this situation, an HR manager should be able to:

  • Assess the risk of failure by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the people they coordinate. For this, you could run regular surveys to identify the biggest challenges the members of your team face with a specific project.
  • Plan solutions based on the challenges you’ve identified
  • Pay attention to the behavior of the people you coordinate in order to identify and defuse any conflictual situation. Also, if a conflictual situation shows up more than once, it’s best to dig deeper and identify the core reason (otherwise, it will keep happening).
  • Create structure. As an HR manager, you can use PMs talent when it comes to fragmenting large projects into well-structured steps that seem more approachable. Start by creating clear job descriptions, setting a  formal performance review process, and end with setting goals that fit your work style.

Overall, if you have a good grasp of the big picture (via proper planning and structures), it’s easier to identify unhappy employees or teams that don’t quite work well together. This way, you can diffuse the situation before it hinders productivity and brings a negative mood within the organization.

3. Change is Already Taking Place

In a world where the focus is shifting towards result-based work models (remote workers), the role of the HR department is quickly changing. A direct consequence is that employees no longer need constant supervision and care – they are more individualistic and can take care of these aspects themselves.

As such, progress is measured in accomplished goals, completed tasks, and delivered results. However, HR still needs to find ways to care for the people who work from home and to create cohesive teams with members scattered all over the world.

This is not an easy task and requires a combination of skills from both sides (HR and PM). As an HR manager dealing with remote workers you need an in-depth understanding of risk mitigation, budget management, resource allocation, project design, team leadership, communication, time management, and more.

Wrap Up

The new way of working and doing business is not just a fluke of unusual times. It’s a growing trend that’s here to stay and evolve.

As such,  skills and knowledge in project management will become extremely useful to any HR professional who wants to grow their career!

Guest Author: Sarilaya Cada.
Sarilaya Cada is a freelance content writer. She is interested in a wide range of fields, from project management, to education, to engineering.

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