Tag Archives: key result areas

Key Areas for a Project Manager

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

I was in your workshop last week. When you look at qualified candidates for a role, you say “It’s all about the work.” We are looking at a project management role. What do you consider the three most important parts of project management?

Project Management is a classic Strata II role. From a macro level, it involves the coordination of people, materials, equipment and project sequence. Three core Key Result Areas (KRAs) drive the project forward.

  1. Project Planning (creating a comprehensive project plan including milestones and accountabilities).
  2. Task Checklist (documenting and tracking all the details for completion and quality).
  3. Project Schedule (creating and monitoring the project schedule, prioritizing and sequencing time frames associated with changing elements of a project).

The value adds for Project Management are project control, accuracy to project specifications, timeliness and completeness.

Other KRAs would include –

  • Pre-con Hand-off Meeting (critical meeting where pre-construction hands the project over to project management).
  • Punch List (audit of the project checklist, when everyone else thinks the project is complete).
  • Buy Out (assembling the list of material suppliers and subcontractors, with competitive cost information).
  • Customer Relations (creating the necessary customer relationship that addresses project discrepancies, project change orders and avoids litigation)

All of these would make the basis for a comprehensive role description for your Project Manager. -Tom

How Is The Morale?

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

I am the direct manager of a team of four supervisors. I am working on the agenda for 1-1 discussions with each individual. Based on your suggestion, I structured the agenda using the Key Result Areas in the role description. While it seems to make sense, I feel there is a missing piece to the agenda. I know we are talking about the work in the role of the supervisor, but where many of them struggle is in the soft skills, the interpersonal working relationships between each supervisor and their team members. We often talk about those issues, but I am not sure how to organize my notes from those discussions. What we talk about doesn’t fit any of the Key Result Areas, but I feel like they are dramatically important. Is it possible that there are things we should talk about outside the Key Result Areas defined for the role?

Welcome to management. You have just discovered that the work of the supervisor is different than the work of the team member. It is not that there are issues outside of defined Key Result Areas, but, there are Key Result Areas that escaped the role description.

A military commander was once asked in all of his experience, what was his biggest mistake, his biggest regret. His reply was “not taking vacation before going into battle.” It was a curious response, but he explained that the most important element to consider before going into battle was morale. What is the morale of the troops?

Is it possible that a Key Result Area missed in the definition of the role description was team morale?

Key Result Area – Team Morale

Context – the most critical work product in our company requires high levels of cooperation and support between team members in collateral working relationships. It is incumbent on the supervisor to create positive working relationships that promote teamwork and high levels of trust among team members.

Tasks and Activities – the supervisor will clearly assign tasks in such a way that each team member understands not only their own task assignment, but the task assignments of those people they work around. Where work product is handed off from one team member to another, or one work cell to another, the team members will discuss the quality standards that each team member needs from other team members. The supervisor will create circumstances where team members provide feedback to each other, in a respectful way related to quality standards, pace of work and safety practices. Specifically, the supervisor will require positive feedback practice during times of low stress using project debriefs, brainstorming best practices, team teaching and cross training, so that during periods of high stress, the team can operate at high levels of cooperation, support and trust.

Accountability – The supervisor is accountable for evaluating the morale of the team, identifying team behavior that promotes teamwork and identifying team behavior that is destructive to teamwork. The supervisor will review this team assessment each month in a 1-1 discussion with the supervisor’s manager, to identify steps the supervisor may take to promote teamwork and discourage behavior that is destructive to teamwork.

For a VP, What Is Necessary?

“This hire is for a Vice-President,” Cooper explained. “And there is no one inside that I can promote. So, we have to go to the outside, likely have to go outside our industry. It’s a scary proposition, bringing someone in at the level without our specific industry background.”

“Why is it scary?” I asked.

“It’s a lot of money. It will likely take this person several months just to understand the way our company works in the market. If we make the wrong hiring decision, it’s not only expensive, but we lose time. Not to mention the impact on the people in this division.”

“What will be your decision criteria?”

“We have a job description, and several resumes. In fact, do you want to look at the resumes while you are here?” Cooper baited.

“I wouldn’t know what to look for?” I replied.

“Sure, you would. You know our company, and you would know a VP when you see one. Just give me some direction, a screen, a filter,” he pressed.

“It’s not that I wouldn’t recognize someone with VP potential, but they still might not be the right person. I don’t know your critical role requirements, because you haven’t defined them. When you look at this role, and its parts, its Key Result Areas, what is necessary?”

Identifying KRAs – Quick Exercise

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

Okay, you sold me on the importance of writing better Role Descriptions. In your workshop last week, you referred to Key Result Areas several times as part of the Role Description. I am curious about how you establish KRAs.

Indeed, Key Result Areas are the framework of the Role Description. When you took English Composition in high school, your teacher always told you, before you write your paper, you should always write the outline. (No one ever did it, but that’s another story.)

Identifying the Key Result Areas (KRAs) in a role is like writing the outline. For every role, there are between 4-8 Key Result Areas, depending on the complexity of the role.

For the Role of Plant Floor Supervisor, here are typical KRAs

  • Raw Material Inventory
  • Personnel Scheduling
  • Equipment Scheduling
  • Production Output
  • Production Output Counting and Reporting
  • Equipment Maintenance

But your question is “how” to identify these Key Result Areas? Here’s a simple exercise. Take a sticky note pad and on each note, write down one task related to the role. Don’t stop until you have at least 50 sticky notes, more if you want.

Now, look at the sticky notes and figure out which ones go together. Put them in groups. You will likely identify 4-8 groups. Once you have all the sticky notes divided into groups, give each group a name, like the names above. Those are your Key Result Areas.

Here is how they work in the context of a Role Description –

Role Description
Role Title –
Purpose for the Role –

Key Result Area #1
–Task and Activities
–Level of Work
–Accountability (Goal)

Key Result Area #2
–Task and Activities
–Level of Work
–Accountability (Goal)

Key Result Area #3
–Task and Activities
–Level of Work
–Accountability (Goal)

Key Result Area #4
–Task and Activities
–Level of Work
–Accountability (Goal)

Key Result Area #5
–Task and Activities
–Level of Work
–Accountability (Goal)

If you would like an template for this Role Description, in MS-Word, just Ask Tom and I will send you one.

Culture Fit as Part of a Role Description

Yesterday, I got a question from a participant in our Hiring Talent online program. In the Field Work assignment to create a Role Description (according to a specific template), the question came up.

I wasn’t sure about including the culture/values piece, as it is not something I typically see in role descriptions, however I felt strongly in doing so, as I think this is something that really lives in our organization, provides a compass for how decisions are made, how people interact, and is why we are able to attract and retain top talent.

Just curious – is the culture/value piece something you are seeing companies incorporate more and more into their role descriptions?

The culture/values piece is rare to find in a role description, but think about this.

What is culture? It is that unwritten set of rules, intentional or not, that governs the way we behave as a group. It governs the way we work together.

Here are the four criteria I interview for –
1. Capability for the level of work in the role (Time Span)
2. Skill (Technical knowledge and practiced performance)
3. Interest, passion (Value for the work)
4. Reasonable behavior (Habits, absence of an extreme negative temperament, -T)

The elements you describe in the Role Description, related to culture/values have a distinct place in the interview process. Where I can ask questions related to values, specifically value for the work we do, I am looking for interest or passion. Where I can ask questions related to habits, reasonable behavior, I am looking for fit with our culture.

These elements, interest, passion and culture fit are as critical to success as capability and skills. I look forward to seeing the questions generated by this Key Result Area in the Role Description.

If you would like more information about our online program Hiring Talent, let me know. I am gathering the next group to start on March 19, 2012.

Where to Start

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

I have been following your posts on Requisite Organization. How do I implement this management strategy after seven years with a lack of organization or structure?

You start at the beginning, of course. Before you wreak havoc on everyone else, start with yourself. The first place to look is at your own Role Description. If you can even find it, it’s likely a mess. That’s where you start.

List out all the tasks and activities in your role. I use 2×2 sticky notes, one for each task. You should end up with 50-75 tasks. Look at the tasks and see which go together. Separate the tasks (the ones that go together) into piles. You will likely end up with 5-8 piles.

Next, name each pile with a short 2-3 word name. These names will be things like –

  • Planning
  • Personnel and Recruiting
  • Production
  • Administrative (Paperwork, every role has paperwork)
  • Reporting (Metrics, measurements)
  • Process Improvement
  • Safety
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Scheduling
  • Training
  • Quality Control
  • Research

The names of these piles-of-tasks become the Key Result Areas for your role. These Key Result Areas (KRAs) become the structure for your Role Description.

Drafting the Role Description, using your KRAs as your outline, the organization of the document falls together. Inside each KRA, list the specific tasks, identify the Level of Work, and the accountability.

KRA #1
Level of Work

KRA #2
Level of Work

And so on.

Once you have written your Role Description, then pick a team member (to torture) and collaborate through this same exercise. Pick someone friendly and cooperative. It will likely take 3-4 meetings over a period of 1-2 weeks before you get agreement. Then move to the next team member. By then, you will get the hang of it and you will be ready to move to the next step.

Let me know how it goes.