There are lots of competency models for project managers. Most Federal Agencies have one (FAC-P/PM), most project based firms do as well. There are even competency based certifications. Those commercial certification organizations that charge you money to test your competency are a bit suspect of course, but even they have a framework for competency.
Here's a set of competency assessments for Department of Energy Decontamination and Decommissioning projects, that were developed from the experiences of the project managers accountable for the success of the program. A peer based set of competencies.
Performance Measurement – the ability to collect and analyze project information to determine where the project stands and to predict future status and progress.
Competent project managers apply performance measurement to:
- Actively monitor project status using tangible measures of physical percent complete
- Insist on constructive analysis of variance, with corrective action plans for everything.
- Use the plan to manage the project, with defined measures of increasing maturity of all deliverables.
- Hold regular status review meetings, where progress to plan is presented, corrective actions to get back on plan, forecasting of future performance, and risk retirement are presented.
- Encourage an attitude of no surprises using analyitical measures of probability of project success.
- Measure (and report) performance against the plan with forecast for next period.
Submit status reports on time. Communicating is the exchange of information. The sender must make the information clear and unambiguous. The receiver must make sure the information is complete and understood. Communicating has many dimensions: written and oral; listening and speaking; internal and external; formal and informal; vertical and horizontal.
Competent project managers apply status reporting to:
- Send clear messages with actionable outcomes.
- Choose the form and timing of the message for their audience.
- Create professional communications traceable to the mission and vision of the project.
- Use language carefully to assure no confusion occurs around what actions need to be taken for the current situation.
- Confirm the accuracy of information sent and received with tracability to the source documents.
- Explain things well, so all receivers have the same understanding, no matter their level of technical or operational understanding.
- Listen carefully to others with all points of view, record this information for later assessment.
Organizational Effectiveness – is the ability to get things done. It requires an understanding of the formal and informal structures of all the organizations involved.
Competent project managers apply organizational processes to:
- Knowing who to go to for help.
- Wining approval of requests for support.
- Show respect for individuals regardless of position.
- Maintain a network of contacts from whom to get assistance.
- Knowing which resources are scarcest and manage them most carefully.
Team Building – a team is a group of individuals who hold each other accountable for a shared outcome (no one succeeds unless we all do). Team building means encouraging and enabling people to work together as a team to accomplish the project.
Competent project managers apply team building processe to:
- Define the team to include all the stakeholders.
- Share management responsibilities with the team.
- Talk about process as well as results.
- Work hard to achieve consensus on all major decisions.
- Insist on the best the team can do.
- Call attention to team achievements.
- Develop good team players.
- Build teams that perceive themselves as teams.
Staff Development – the process of encouraging personal and professional growth among the members of the project team. It includes training your replacement as well as encouraging growth in an individual’s chosen functional area.
Competent project managers apply staff development to:
- Insist on the best that each individual can do.
- Demonstrate knowledge of team member’s personal and professional goals.
- Value the individual’s growth and achievements.
- Give credit promptly and sincerely.
- Provide constructive criticism promptly and in private.
- Provide timely and useful performance reviews.
- Delegate appropriately for the person and the situation.
Perspective – the ability to elevate ones view; to take a broader organizational view rather than a narrower project or personal view; to discern how the project relates to a hierarchy of larger undertakings; to sense and assess potential interactions with outside conditions and events; to connect seemingly unrelated events or conditions to the project.
Competent project managers see their job through the proper perspective to:
- Demonstrate awareness of the organization’s vision and mission.
- Demonstrate awareness of competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Encourage the team to consider big picture issues.
- Avoid getting immersed in unnecessary detail.
- Actively seek to acquire new knowledge.
- Read widely.
Negotiating – working with others in order to reach an agreement. A successful negotiation is one where all parties are satisfied with the agreement.
Competent project managers have the proper negotiating skills to:
- Advocate for interests rather than positions.
- Seek agreements that satisfy the interests of both parties.
- Work to keep personalities out of the negotiations.
- Open to innovative and creative solutions.
- Use objective criteria to evaluate proposed agreements.
- Negotiate agreements that can be kept.
- Negotiate agreements that preserve the working relationship.
Risk Management – is the ability to identify, analyze, and respond to risks over the course of the project. It includes both minimizing the consequences of adverse events and maximizing the results of positive events.
Competent project managers apply risk management to:
- Consider both the impact and likelihood of risk.
- Use contingency and management reserves appropriately.
- Distinguish between risks (always in the future) and issues (in the present).
- Take prudent risks and exploit unexpected opportunities.
- View past problems as current risks and plan for them.
Problem Solving – is a combination of problem identification (what is the problem), solution assessment (what can be done), and problem response (implementing a solution). Project problems may be technical, managerial, or interpersonal. Problem solving may lead to decision making when a problem has many possible solutions.
Competent project managers have skills and experience in problem solving to:
- Use a structured approach for all significant problems.
- Look for root causes, not just symptoms.
- Seek (and listen to) both facts and opinions.
- Encourage innovative and creative solutions.
- Involve the team in problem solving.
- Ask perceptive questions.
- Follow up to ensure that the problem remains solved.
Decision Making – the ability to make the best choice from among many alternatives. Decisions can be "gotten" (from the customer, from the team, from other managers) as well as made. Decision making has a time element to it – the best alternative may not be the right decision if it is made too early or too late.
Competent project managers possess decision making skills to:
- Use a structured approach for all significant decisions.
- Seek (and listen to) both facts and opinions.
- Make decisions when needed.
- Document important decisions.
- Delegate or escalate decisions when appropriate.
- Follow up to ensure decision was implemented.