The demands made on the capability and professionalism of project managers involved in the de-fuelling and decommissioning UK's Magnox nuclear reactor sites are considerable. Now, when senior management allocated project managers and the other professionals they knew what the required competencies were, and were confident that the individuals chosen were either already capable or were being adequately prepared.
Andrew Smart, Director of Project Management, noted: "The new information we gained about our project community's development needs is a huge step forward for us".
Magnox South is responsible to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for the safe decommissioning of Magnox reactors in the UK - each one is a complex and potentially hazardous project.
Andrew Smart, the Director of Project Management outlined the need: "We want to develop the capability of the individuals and of the organisation. We are not interested in a 'sheep dip' approach. We've had some experience of that in the recent past, and understand its limitations in making sustainable improvement in performance."
He briefed CITI, "We want to better understand development needs across the community before committing investment in project management training. We also realise that we need to know more about the required competencies of our staff before we even attempt to bridge the 'development gap'".
Approach to solution
"Following a rigorous supplier process we engaged CITI. Their approach to assessing and establishing the 'gap of performance' between desired and actual capability was the basis for a 'demand-driven' development framework for the project community of project managers, project control staff, and project team members", said Andrew.
This assessment of core competencies in project management, as well as the specific technical competences required by professionals within such an exceptional environment, was used to provide individual reports that informed personal and management decisions about appropriate personal development plans. The process involved self-assessment, structured interviews and a 360 degree feedback process. CITI also provided population summaries and analysis that proved very useful to management in planning a development framework for the profession of project management.
Project management development programmes that focus on method, without attending to the disciplines that lie 'beyond method' fail to deliver on their promise of improved performance. Having an understanding of method is important - it is just not sufficient. Perhaps even more important is the recognition that individuals have very different skills and learning needs and a 'one size fits all' approach rarely addresses this.
Models / tools used
CITI's proprietary suite of capability profiling tools, supplemented by bespoke add-ons customised to the Magnox project environment.
"The classic training model, taking individuals out of the business to sit in a classroom for a week at a time, was not going to work for us. But at the same time, we knew we needed to raise our game in managing change. I have to say, your people are brilliant!"