A Framework to Establish People-related Best Practices


In her Personality Matters series, Leslie Sachs examines the personalities and people issues that are found in technology groups from cross-functional, high-performance teams to dysfunctional matrix organizations.


Usually I write about the impact of personality in process improvement. This month’s topic of standards and frameworks suggested that I discuss the impact of the SEI’s People Capability Maturity Model on issues related to managing your most important resources—people. Unfortunately, many organizations have failed to realize that managing and developing the right team is far more important than just the products and services that generate revenues. If you forget about your human resources, then you probably won’t be in business for very long. That said, many otherwise successful technology professionals find it difficult to successfully manage human resources. This article describes an excellent framework developed by the SEI to help you establish effective people-related best practices.

CMM Anyone?

As noted in the model itself, a Capability Maturity Model is an evolutionary roadmap for implementing the vital practices from one or more domains of organizational process (Curtis, Hefley, Miller, p. 16). Maturity models help you to set priorities and decide which steps should be completed first. Many people find maturity models too verbose and even more difficult to implement on a practical basis. But it is also true that getting your arms around all of the people related best practices can be a very difficult challenge. This model helps to organize and approach this effort in a logical way.

Let’s take a look at what practices make sense to implement in your organization.


Many organizations have an ad-hoc approach to selecting new employees that results in considerable wasted time and energy. Even worse, it can result in failing to select good candidates or selecting the wrong candidates. Having a set of practices in place to select the right candidates is an essential practice in any successful organization. Staffing is considered to be the most important process at this initial level and managers play a key role in recruiting suitable candidates. There needs to be an appropriate selection process that is fair and complies with all relevant personnel laws. Equally important, but frequently overlooked, is the need to have a process to transition employees out of the organization when necessary. This is an area of great weakness for many otherwise successful organizations and the People Capability Maturity Model helps to establish guidelines to get you started in the right direction.

Communication and Coordination

Many organizations focus primarily on communication outside of the organization to insure that customers receive important information on a timely basis. Communication within an organization is also essential and needs to be managed. I have seen environments where the rumor mill seemed to be the only means of disseminating information. Such a situation is certainly not optimal.

Work Environment

Work Environment can include managing issues related to health and safety and equally important is the comfort of the members of your organization. An office environment that is too hot, cold or noisy creates a distraction and often results in employees just deciding not to bother working or just doing the minimum to get by. There have been studies related to lighting, noise and air quality that show that work environment, while not the only factor, is indeed an essential factor in developing an efficient and effective workforce.

Performance Management

Performance helps you to establish objectives and measure the work performed against those objectives. Your best performers can be recognized (as they should be) and obviously you can use performance measurement to help improve performance or, when necessary, decide that some employees just cannot successfully perform in a specific function.

Training and Development

Training and development helps to improve the skills of your team. Training may just be the most important process area as many other problems can be resolved with effective training.


Compensation helps you to effectively establish proper pay and benefits that match an individual’s contribution to the organization. Compensation needs to be perceived as fair and comply with all relevant laws and regulations.

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