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.
Monitor project staffing needs and act proactively to minimize gaps.
There are many reasons for gaps in project staffing. These include leave time, lengthy trainings and early separation. Monitoring project staffing needs and acting promptly to minimize gaps:
- Promotes continuity in project management.
- Helps mitigate any negative impact of staffing gaps on project progress and quality.
- Avoids situations in which other staff become overburdened with additional responsibilities, leading to stress and burnout.
- Primary responsible: Project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP)
- The PM/CoP monitors staffing levels and create plans to maximize coverage.
- Others involved: Other supervisors; human resources (HR) manager and/or officer; senior management team (SMT)
- The HR manager and/or HR officer and SMT provide support as needed such as freeing up other country program staff, requesting temporary duty (TDY) staff from elsewhere, or hiring new staff or consultants.
- Ongoing, with periodic formal meetings as required.
This key action complements and is reinforced by Standard 14, key action 3, on staff care and support.
Follow these steps to ensure that staff needs are monitored and gaps minimized:
- The PM/CoP uses leave tracking tools such as a team calendar and staff leave schedules to discuss project coverage during quarterly meetings. Should staff personal/vacation/sick leave or a staff separation present a challenging staffing gap that cannot easily be addressed, the PM/CoP includes the staffing gap in the project risk register. The PM/CoP keeps the HR department (and SMT for more senior project positions) informed about significant gaps for which alternative staffing arrangements may be needed. For particularly difficult project operating contexts, be prepared for turnover.
- For project team members supervised by staff other than the PM/CoP (e.g., finance staff, supply chain management staff, other operations staff), their supervisors keep the PM/CoP updated about any potential staffing gaps on their teams that might affect project implementation. These may include proposal development, trainings, leave time (vacation or extended sick leave), or staff separations.
- For project support that comes from shared or "pooled" staffShared staff, also referred to as "pooled staff”, are country program staff whose salaries cannot be assigned to specific projects, but whose efforts benefit the country program’s full array of projects. Salaries for these staff are distributed to all projects using one of the three cost allocation pools (Vehicle Expense Pool, Facility Cost Pool or Project Support Pool). , supervisors of the shared staff supporting the project must alert the HoP and PM/CoP of anticipated changes in the department’s staffing that may affect overall staffing strength and impact the department’s ability to provide timely support to the project.
- The PM/CoP works with the HR manager or officer and the SMT as needed to develop plans to fill gaps efficiently. Approaches may include:
- Identifying acting staff to take on responsibilities temporarily.
- Recruiting new staff, either permanent or temporary, ideally in time to overlap with the person being replaced. Use Talent PoolTalent Pool is a CRS database that gathers information on external candidates interested in future positions with CRS. Talent Pool is specifically focused on the following key personnel positions: Chief of Party, Technical Director, Finance & Administration Director, Monitoring & Evaluation Director or Operations & Logistics Director. if CRS needs to replace or hire new staff for key personnel positions.
- Bringing in TDY support.
- Bringing in consultants for time-bound, discrete tasks.Follow CRS’ consultant policy and ensure that consultants are not used to provide temporary coverage for CRS staff positions.
Coverage for key personnel“Key personnel” is a specific term used by the U.S. government; other donors may use different terms. Many requests for applications (RFAs) require that the applicant identify key personnel for the project in the project proposal. : For complex and/or long-term projects, the PM/CoP and SMT should put in place succession planning for any key personnel. Ensure that at least one other staff member is able to step in should the key personnel position become vacant.
- The PM/CoP obtains SMT feedback and approval for coverage plans and related follow-up, including securing supervisor support for acting arrangements, TDYs, etc.
- The PM/CoP considers other strategies to minimize the impact of anticipated staffing gaps, if necessary, such as rescheduling activities in the DIP if needed and feasible.
- For any significant adjustments to project plans or staffing (e.g., extended absence of an individual designated as key personnel) or risks or issues associated with the same, be sure to communicate the change to any project donor in an appropriate manner, and seek approval if needed (see Standard 15, key action 2 for guidance).
- To minimize the impact of staffing transitions, when staff members depart the project, the supervisor and PM/CoP ensure a thorough documentation of the status of project tasks and issues, and ideally an in-person handover of project knowledge and documentation to the person taking on the responsibilities.
- If there isn’t time for a handover between departing and incoming staff, the handover should be done with the PM/CoP, who can later brief the incoming staff.
Remember the importance of staff care: Staff burnout and turnover can occur if project and country program leadership give insufficient attention to staff care. In addition to the impact on staff themselves, burnout can have a negative effect on project progress and partnerships, which are also critical to project success. Providing appropriate staff care from the very start of an employee’s tenure is an important strategy to minimize staffing gaps.
When CRS is a sub-recipient
- Discuss project staffing at regular intervals with partners, asking them to project any anticipated gaps, whether from leave, training or turnover.
- Emphasize to partners the importance of staff care as a project management strategy.
- Accompany partners as needed in planning for coverage of gaps as well as implementing staff care activities.
- Follow the same process as when CRS is the prime.
- Inform the prime as needed about any significant anticipated staffing changes and CRS’ plans to minimize staffing gaps.
- Monitoring staffing needs is particularly important in emergency settings. Much emergency staffing is done through TDYs, which means staff rotate in and out frequently. Emergency postings are intense and staff burn-out can occur quickly. Pay extra attention to monitoring of staffing needs in an emergency project.
- See the Emergency Field Operations Manual (EFOM) for more guidance and suggested templates, and the emergency response tracker examples under “Other resources.”
Tools and templates
Talent Pool (CRS' database for key personnel recruitment) Talent Pool is a CRS database that gathers information on external candidates interested in future positions with CRS. Talent Pool is specifically focused on the following key personnel positions: Chief of Party, Technical Director, Finance & Administration Director, Monitoring & Evaluation Director or Operations & Logistics Director. Access Talent Pool by contacting your HR recruiter.
Policies and procedures
POL-HRD-EMP-0001: New Recruitment and Selection Policy
POL-HRD-EMP-0002: Classification of Personnel
POL-HRD-EMP-0004: CRS Policy on Consultants (Independent Contractors)
Bridge Staffing Plan Template The Bridge Staffing Plan template was developed to help country programs ensure coverage for the ongoing responsibilities of staff assigned to a proposal development team for a funding opportunity. It may be adapted for use in other contexts, including ensuring coverage for the major responsibilities of staff redeployed to support project start-up.
Example staff coverage tracker – Nepal emergency
Example staff coverage tracker – Philippines emergency response
- Primary responsible: Project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP)