A Few Words. My Experience In Management: Human Resource Management

By on March 31, 2016

The purpose of these words is to share my experience in managing projects along my career. I am a Civil Engineer who has been participating in several projects in different countries. In all the countries the human resources management is the aspect most neglected by the managers I have encounter all along my working life.

Managing people is not easy. All of you know that. But, accordingly with my experience, in too many situations the management of the persons involved in a project could have been done clearly better. Next cases show you extreme situations, the causes I think there were behind and the solutions that were encountered to manage the issues.

Case 1.

What about being recruited by a company telling you that your responsibilities will be like, let say technical director, and when you reach the country and the team you find out that the position is already covered and you have to do a different thing or you try to compete with the existing responsible for the position trying to show to the company that you can do the job for this position even better. The same can happen in the opposite direction: you are in a position, let say technical manager, and you find out that a new person has been contracted and that this person was told in his recruitment that his position was the same than you have, without informing that the position was already occupied.

This happened to you ? What was your reaction ? How this kind of situation can happen ? What is a possible way to solve or mitigate the situation.

Both situations has been experienced by me. The first one in the shoes of another colleague. In the second case, I experienced the situation by myself.

In both cases, the first reaction of the person is that the company, or its human resources recruiter, lied to you or he hid information to you to fulfil the position. This situation can discourage you. But this is not the solution. Usually when this happen the origin of the problem is in the lack of communication between the human resources responsible for the recruitment and the manager for the project. Of course that this situation is disrespectful for the affected person and that it creates an initial lack of confidence that this person feels respecting the company and its objectives. It is important do not think that the company tried to mislead someone. Simply, we have to think that the company members did not communicate correctly.

TWO PERSONS FOR THE SAME POSITION ?
TWO PERSONS FOR THE SAME POSITION?


As per I know, the way to mitigate the situation is open communication to lead the situation with responsibility, respect, fairness and honesty. A meeting with the project manager and the responsible for the recruitment was held exposing the situation and reaching an agreement to mitigate the mistake. The person who came in to assume the position was redirected to another where he could participate more independently, giving him more responsibility in a filed which required more attention. This worked for several years, till the project finished.

OPEN CONVERSATION, RESPECTT
OPEN CONVERSATION, RESPECT, HONESTY, FAIRNESS AND AGREEMENT TO REDIRECT THE ISSUE TO THE BENEFIT OF THE PROFESSIONALS AND THE PROJECT


In the case that I experienced the attitude I took was meet with the affected person explaining to him the organogram of the project and the real position he should develop after having from the project manager confirmation of my position and the position of the new contracted person. After that, I tried to give the new member more responsibility under my supervision after knowing his competence in other fields where we had to reinforce our presence, similarly to what I learnt previously and exposed in the first situation above. Also I tried to obtain information from the project manager how the situation could have happened. The answer was that the recruiter did not communicate with him, the project manager. The project manager asked for apologizes to the new resource. This person kept a collaborating attitude till the last day of the project. The recruiter did not ask apologize to anyone.

Summarizing, lack of communication inside an organization can lead to huge problems, even though the examples exposed above are extreme situations. I have to say that the company had a weak matrix organizational structure. Only an open attitude from everybody involved in the issues could lead to a steady solution for several years.

Case 2.

What about leading an existing team whose persons was treated as, let say, almost servants of the project by the prior project manager ? What about if the relationship with the client is seen by the team members such as merely administrative, not being involved deeply in the project ? I also experienced this situation, first as a team member and after that, as the responsible for part of the team work. Working as a servant team member for a project is not a desirable situation, not for the project, nor for the team, nor for the client. During my period as civil coordinator and, at the same time, member of the team, the feeling was that our work was not important because we were not informed by the project manager nor by the client regarding decisions made that affected the orientation and content of the work. At this time I was not PMP certified. I did not followed any PMP formation before this period. Because of this lack of information and involvement of the team members, they were unmotivated and in some aspects their work was done without interest or without reaching the level of quality and intensity required by the project. I felt that the situation was not good for our company and also, it was not good for the team members as professionals.

UNMOTIVATED TEAM MEMBERS BECAUSE OF LACKING OF INFORMATION AND INVOLVEMENT
UNMOTIVATED TEAM MEMBERS BECAUSE OF LACKING OF INFORMATION AND INVOLVEMENT


To redirect and correct the situation I tried to obtain all the possible information from the client and from the other specialities of the project to develop our civil work with coherence. Daily coffee conversations and periodic visits to the client’s workspaces and periodic short little meetings with my colleagues I held to make the coordination of all the specialities with the civil works. The information I discovered was shared by me with the rest of the team members and with the other responsible for the other specialities. I tried to obtain information , respect and confidence from the client and from the team members. Indirectly it was a way to verify the scope, concept that I discovered after studying to obtain the PMP certificate. These unofficial conversations were a vehicle to gain respect and in some way independence. In many situations I had to say NO to some considerations that the client wanted to implement in our work. The relationship with the colleagues was open, the aspects involved were discussed and if some disagreement remained, the solution adopted was made by the official project manager. If we have some disagreement with the client, I always tried to justify technically our position, explaining that if the disagreement was because no technical issues, the client had to treat the situation in the appropriate point of view. This way, people started to be motivated and the work improved in quality and in depth of the issues treated by the team members. The client discovered that the team was very competent, was highly involved in the project and gained respect also in front of a third part of the project, the Contractor. The respect coming from the Contractor was obtained defining the scope and obtaining its agreement in how to solve the situations prior to develop the solution. Avoiding wasting time in our work was very important because scheduled dates for the project had to be fulfilled and because we wanted that the client and the Contractor understood that our team also was aware that wasting time was lost of money and quality in the project. Other aspects related on how the work had to be done were treated in a different way by me to be more efficient to reach the final objectives on time, cost and quality based in my experience as team member and based on the knowledge of how the client and the Contractor faced situations.

INFORMATION AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROJECT LEAD TO EFFICIENT TEAM WORK, COHESION AND FULFILLING OBJECTIVES
INFORMATION AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROJECT LEAD TO EFFICIENT TEAM WORK, COHESION AND FULFILLING OBJECTIVES


Summarizing, collecting and sharing the information along with hard work, good initial technical formation, willing to learn, responsibility, respect, honesty and fairness in the relationship with the colleagues, client members and Contractor members were the key points to redirect a situation and to obtain finally from the client Director a private congratulation and an explicit consideration of the work done for the success of the project.
After obtaining my PMP certificate I remember these situations and I analyse how this situations could happen. The PMP study gave to me some lights to understand how the structure of the organization is important in the origin of some issues, how continuous open communication is important to lead with human resources and stakeholders to solve issues while maintaining responsible, respectful, honest and fair relationship with all of them.

Nowadays, I work in a different country, into a different culture. Respect, honesty and fairness in the relationship with the colleagues is crucial to make understand them the importance of these concepts in the daily relationship with the team members and other stakeholders to reach the job objectives, even though these aspects were not common in the way they saw them in prior companies.

Armando Capellan

I have twenty six years of experience, which includes 6 months as a research project manager at the “Centre d´Expérimentation Routière”, two years at the Zaragoza – Villanueva de Gállego dual carriageway; one year as an assistant site manager and one year as a site manager. Two years working as an engineer working on projects to build railway stations, developing a flood prevention plan for the Basque Country, and providing technical support at the under-river tunnels in the Bilbao Metro. One year as a site manager building three underpasses for a railway in Badalona. Four years in charge of the technical coordination of the Lisbon Metro construction site management. One year as technical department manager at the U.T.E. Sella (Dragados – Fomento) for building the Caravia-Llovio section of the Cantábrico dual carriageway. Four years as a project coordinator and construction consultant for the new Light Rail System in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto (Porto Metro). One year as a director and representative for ENSITRANS association, liaising with Porto Metro, responsible for the association’s management and technical coordination. In 2005 I was a representative for SENER consortium, which won the tender for the management and consultancy for completing phase 1 and expanding the Light Rail System in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto. I was in charge of “General Management and Consultancy”, which included the following areas; Tenders and Contracts, Cost Planning and Control, Information Systems, Project Analysis and Reconciliation, and the Integrated Security System for commissioning the Light Rail System for public use. Since March 2006, I have been the founding member and technical director of the company “Proyectos y Obras Singulares de Ingeniería Civil, THURRIS S.L.” 2009 Technical Director Orán Tranway for Isolux - Corsán Corvián S.A. Since 2010 Project Manager and Sales Manager for Portugal for Amberg Infraestructuras. Since 2012, Senior Project Manager for Projects in India for Amberg India.