How to Create a Locally-Relevant Set of PM Job Tasks and Competencies Based on Job Level

(Note: The primary audience of this chapter is the person who is responsible for establishing and maintaining an organization’s training and development efforts – particularly as these relate to project management (PM). A secondary audience might be someone working with an organization’s project management office [PMO] who wants to create a structured PM career path to be monitored and supported by the PMO.)

This chapter summarizes a process by which you can create a comprehensive, locally-relevant set of “PM Job Tasks and Competencies Based on Job Level” that can serve as the foundation of your organization’s unique PM Job Model.  This, in turn, can be used as a powerful reference tool to guide the evolution of each project manager’s individual career, including helping structure performance evaluations, coaching, PM training and education, and HR initiatives related to PM and PM career development.

The Steps to Follow

Below, in a highly condensed form, are the steps to follow.  (Note: Some of these steps — those marked with an * — are discussed in greater detail, with links to helpful resources,  in my free 16-page PDF titled Do-It-Yourself PM Certification: How to Document Your Skills & Get the Credibility You’ve Earned without Jumping Through Someone Else’s Hoops — http://michaelgreer.biz/?p=1450 ).

  1. Find a comprehensive list of generic PM skills (asapm, GAPPS, Prince2, PMBOK, etc.).*
  2. Study your chosen list of skills to be sure you understand the implications of each skill for PM job performance.*
  3. Edit this list and use it as the foundation to create your own, unique, comprehensive list of PM skills.*
  4. Contact project managers, supervisors, respected colleagues, experts, customers, or anyone who might help you refine and edit this list and ask them to provide detailed input.* (Consider using formal information gathering tools or processes such as those used to support a needs analysis, performance analysis, etc.)
  5. Summarize the annotated skills list and sequence them according to a logical progression that would reflect a PM career in your organization.
  6. Create a draft PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level (See example below.)
  7. Share this draft with anyone who participated in Step 4 (above) and ask for their feedback, changes, etc.
  8. Revise and finalize your PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level and begin integrating it into your a) PM performance evaluations, b) PM coaching, c) PM training and education and d) related HR initiatives.

Sample Table: PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level

Below is a “genericized” table showing PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level. This sample is derived from one I created as part of an extensive PM Requirements Analysis for a large, multi-national client. Several in-depth, formal needs analysis and performance analysis techniques preceded the creation of this document, including in-depth structured interviews with project managers and their supervisors, analysis of existing PM training, creation of hypothesized skills lists and refinement of these by interviewees, etc.

Sample table: PM tasks/competencies X job level

Click here to view/download the full, 7-page PDF of this table — (http://michaelgreer.biz/Greers-Generic-PM-Job-Tasks-&-Competencies-Based-on-Job-Level.pdf)

The sample Tasks/Competencies table is based on five levels in the evolution of a project manager within the organization. These levels, listed in order of increasing PM sophistication, include:

  1. Project Team Member
  2. Technical Lead
  3. Project Expeditor/Tracker
  4. Project Manager
  5. Senior Project Manager

For each of these evolutionary stages, the table illustrates:

  • The task or skill to be performed — These are listed in the context of the client’s typical project life cycle and some PMBOK competencies which were deemed to be locally important.
  • The skill level to be attained by a particular level of PM performer — These range from the lowest skill level (“Not Proficient or Empowered”) to “Proficient, Requires Direction” to “Proficient, Self-Initiating” to the highest level “Able to coach, advise others.”

Some Examples to Illustrate

To see how this table works, examine it as you consider these examples:

  • For Job Task 1.1 (Support the Project Sales Manager…), the average Project Team Member need not be proficient. However, the Technical Lead and the Project Expeditor should be proficient, though requiring some direction and input. At the same time, the Project Manager should be proficient and self-initiating (i.e., not need direction) at this task. Finally, the Senior Project Manager should be able to coach and advise the rest of the project team on this task.
  • In Job Task 1.3.1 (Authorize project start…), the Project Team Member, Technical Lead, and Project Expeditor/Tracker are simply not empowered. In contrast, the Project Manager is proficient and self-initiating, while the Senior Project Manager is able to coach and advise.

Conclusion

In this article I’ve described a process by which you can create a locally-relevant and comprehensive set of PM Job Tasks and Competencies Based on Job Level.  This, in turn, can be used as a powerful reference tool in your organization to guide the evolution of each project manager’s individual career, namely:

  • Performance evaluations
  • Coaching
  • PM training and education
  • HR-related initiatives related to PM and PM career development

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