Are hiring managers emphasizing the wrong things as they seek project managers? Do they place too much emphasis on direct industry or related product experience? In an article for TechRepublic, Moira Alexander examines hiring attitudes and considers what should really count for hiring a project manager.
Sorry, It Depends
It may not be too surprising to hear that the highest-value candidate traits will depend upon the nature of the job and its inherent risk factors. Alexander lists several potential risk factors, including complexity of the project, experience and skills of other project team members, and regulatory issues. These variables need to be weighed on a case-by-case basis.
It is a shame, considering so much project management knowledge is transferable from one job to the next, yet there is just enough difference between industries for problems to arise. One example given is how an IT project manager and a manager of a manufacturing project will think of a “defect” as vastly different things. Sometimes these differences can be reconciled; other times it will be impossible. Here is an example of it not working out:
Hiring a project manager with little or no direct industry experience is disastrous. We experienced this on a large scale (3bn) water project run through the energy and chemicals division of the organization I was working with at the time. Although much of the design was related to water treatment, the greater project scope was for an oil and gas company who had distinct expectations for how the project would be run, managed, and designed. The people with only water experience were eventually removed regardless of their project design experience because the project management norms, such as document management, reporting, resource curves, and not to say the least, jargon [were too different].
Still, Alexander believes that in situations where a team is highly knowledgeable in its discipline, then applying a strong project manager without direct industry experience might still work out. A team’s high knowledge combined with a project manager’s high leadership abilities could be a strong pairing.
You can view the original article here: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/when-hiring-a-project-manager-how-important-is-direct-industry-or-product-experience/