Key Actions by:

Standard 14: Managing and developing human resources for quality project implementation.

Manage project human resources proactively through quality supervision, rigorous performance and development planning and assessment and timely action to address staffing needs. 

Identify gaps in staff skills in project management, and develop and implement plans to address them.

  • Why

    The quality of CRS project management is a direct reflection of the project management skills of its staff. Identifying and addressing gaps in staff project management skills:

    • Improves project implementation.
    • Deepens CRS’ overall capacity to serve vulnerable individuals and communities.
    • Builds morale of staff who feel they are respected and supported.
    • Increases CRS’ ability to retain staff.
  • When
    • Annually, with regular (at least quarterly) check-ins throughout implementation.
  • How

    Follow these steps to ensure that supervisors and staff identify and address gaps in staff project management skills:

    1. During performance planning, the supervisor and staff member discuss the staff member’s proposed performance goals as articulated in the performance plan. Focus discussion on:
    • Specific knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to fulfill the staff member’s project responsibilities.
    • The supervisor and staff member’s assessment of the staff member’s current level of capacity (as well as performance gaps) related to those goals and to the achievement of high-quality project results in general. If the staff member’s responsibilities have a technical focus, a relevant TA can assist with recommendations on addressing capacity gaps in that technical area.
    1. During the “Planning for Development” process the supervisor and staff member discuss ways to fill the identified gaps, particularly through project-specific development opportunities. ​Development strategies to build project management-related capacities may include:
    • Learning through experience, such as mastering aspects of general or specialized project management by supporting others to build their capacity around these concepts and tools and to use the CRS project management standards and Compass guidance as a regular reference throughout the project cycle.
    • Learning through special assignments to lead project-related task forces, project management-focused components of project evaluations, etc.
    • Attendance at higher-level project-related meetings.
    • Learning from others by establishing a mentoring arrangement with an experienced general or specialized project management professional.
    • Learning from others through participation in a general or specialized project management community of practice (e.g., project financial management, project supply chain management, chief of party).
    • Learning through trainings and courses such as:
      • Formal training in project management in the development context (e.g. Project Management for Development Professionals (PMDPro) level 1).
      • Pursuing advanced project management training and certification (e.g., PMD Pro certification; Program Management for Development Professionals (PgMDPro) training and certification; Financial Management for Development Professionals (FMDPro) training and certification; Project Management Institute (PMI) or PRINCE2 certification).
      • On-line or in-person courses on specialized aspects of project management (e.g., project budget estimation techniques; project financial planning and analysis; work breakdown structures; schedule network analysis; critical path method; adaptive management; project risk management; managing projects using project management software).
    1. As needed, the supervisor seeks additional financial and technical support from the SMT should any of the development activities discussed with the employee be beyond what is included in the project budget. This can involve confirming whether the expenses would be eligible under CRS Education Assistance policies.

    Common CRS staff capacity building needs:  Different project staff will need different types of capacity development to fulfill their project responsibilities. This can range from better knowledge of a specific donor’s rules and regulations, to stronger workshop facilitation skills, to deeper MEAL awareness. However, several skillsets are needed almost universally across project staff, especially by new hires, and supervisors should pay attention to these. These include skills such as the fundamentals of project management; partnership, partner capacity strengthening and accompaniment; communication and coordination; responsible data management and data protection; and working with the Catholic Church. CRS Learns has strong courses on these topics and more.

    1. The supervisor and staff member create a plan outlining which development activities the staff member will undertake and when, as well as how to handle the workload associated with the development activity.
    • Prioritize development activities rooted in the principles of adult learning: respectful of the learner’s experience, immediately useful and relevant to the learner’s tasks, active rather than passive learning opportunities.
    • Consider organizing capacity-strengthening activities to strengthen the skills and competencies of multiple project team members at the same time.
    • Factor partner capacity strengthening plans into discussions with CRS staff members. In some cases, CRS may choose to organize a joint capacity-strengthening opportunity for both CRS and partner staff. In other cases, CRS may identify a development opportunity for a CRS staff member to further hone their skills by facilitating a capacity-strengthening opportunity for partners in an area of identified need (provided the CRS staff member has the appropriate technical and adult-learning skills).

    Prioritize development needs. It can be challenging to find the time to address all of a staff member’s development needs while they also are carrying out project responsibilities. Supervisors should help their staff define a realistic, focused development plan that prioritizes the development activities that will have the greatest impact or that need to be completed first if part of a sequential development process.

    1. The supervisor assists the staff member in preparing for and following up after each activity related to development plan objectives.
    • Help the staff member set specific learning goals before undertaking a development activity.
    • After the activity, discuss with the staff member how to implement or build on the new knowledge, skills and/or behaviors. Reinforcing the application of any newly acquired skills or knowledge is key.
    1. The supervisor should regularly check in with the staff member about progress in filling knowledge, skill, and behavior gaps throughout the year.
  • Partnership
    • Accompany partners as needed in helping identify and address gaps in skills needed to implement the project. Areas in which partners commonly need skills-building include financial management, project management, and MEAL, including responsible data management and data protection. 
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Follow the same process.
  • Emergency projects
    • Follow the same process for identifying and addressing staff project management capacity gaps to the extent possible given the time pressures.