My office has experienced an unusual amount of staff turnover in the past three months. A few staff that left had been with the organization for less than a year. As one of three primary hiring managers, this lead to some deep reflection on what do we need to do to better recruit and retain staff. After reviewing some feedback from exit interviews, we determined that we needed to take some time to evaluate and rewrite position descriptions. After a brief consultation with Human Resources and some brainstorming, the two other hiring managers and I came to a consensus on core position descriptions, particularly relating to the essential functions of the job. One of the essential functions of most of the positions was project management. The level of the position determined the number of projects a position would manage. For example, entry-level positions would have 1-2 projects, the next level would have 3-4 and so forth. We presented our rewritten position descriptions to our Vice President and a discussion ensued. He felt like 1-2 projects wasn’t enough for an entry-level position and started to rattle off a list of “things” that an entry-level person would be responsible for completing. The issue was that everything he listed was a task and not a project. At the time, the best explanation that I could give him was that tasks are part of projects, but that really wasn’t capturing my point. Upon returning to my desk, I did a quick google search and came across this blog post that outlines the differences between not only a task and project, but also a process. To summarize:
|A single action or an action with accomplishment in one stage.||Projects often proceed in several stages, to give a specific or one-off output, such as the design of a new product, but typically without repetition of the project after it has finished||A process accomplishes a result in a repeatable way.|
Armed with this information, we continued our discussion and agreed that there is a distinct difference between a task and a project. We approved the position descriptions and are in the middle of the interview process. Before any new staff start, we have decided to come up with a list of tasks, projects and processes and will do a RACI chart for those three areas. It’s not something we’ve ever done before and I think it will really help us to understand how our office functions.
So class, I’d love to hear about a time when you and your boss weren’t on the same page about something and how you came to a consensus?
Kothari, Amit, Task vs. Project vs. Process Management- Which is Right for you?, Nov. 1, 2016