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Masooma Memon

Setting Yourself Up for Success as a Resource Manager (a 9-Point Checklist)

Starting off in resource management, or joining a new company in an RM role? Here's how you set yourself up for success as a resource manager from day one.

There’s no straightforward recipe for resource management success.

But if we were to boil it down to a few critical ingredients, we’d say you need dedication and razor-sharp focus with a pinch of strong communication skills. 

All three will serve you as you determine your “why”, create a mission statement, talk to (and educate) stakeholders and individuals, and rally individuals around your people-first cause. 

To simplify things even more, we’ve created this resource management success checklist for you.

It lays out the nine most important steps to take to get started on the right foot as a resource manager, and go on to create incredible impact. Make sure you bookmark this piece so you can revisit it as you advance your career.

  1. Start with why
  2. Take time to connect with people
  3. Work on getting buy-in for resource management
  4. Go after low-hanging fruit
  5. Get confident with data
  6. Establish communication channels
  7. Become familiar with the project work
  8. Build a solid toolkit
  9. Expand your network

1. Start with why

The more clarity you have on your mission, the better you can explain it to others. 

To this end, begin with reflecting on your strengths and interests in the field that can help achieve your resource management goals. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I interested in resource management?
  • What makes me excited to be a resource manager?
  • How do I want to own my role as a resource manager?

Once you’ve clarity around what you bring to the table, draft your vision proposition and mission statement.

Laura Dean Smith, the Director of Operations at Clarivate, told us she creates these statements with her team:

My team and I worked on identifying our mission, vision, values, and purpose so that we could all have a sense of ownership over these core concepts about how we wanted to approach resourcing for our business.” 

Senior Director of Resource Management at JFF, Martha Arias also stresses the importance of having a mission statement. She calls it the Resource Management Office (RMO) charter that affirms her role’s purpose and values. 

Both Laura and Martha agree this charter can help you get buy-in as well.

Martha explains:

When you’re meeting with other teams, you can pitch [the charter] to them: here’s what we do, these are our values, here’s our key focus. As those meetings happen, you can have it ready to go — your team can help present it, and it will be really clear that everyone is aligned and agreed on your focus as a resource management team.” 

By including the purpose, mission, and vision statements in her presentations, Laura shares she also builds cross-team support for effective resource management. 

2. Take time to connect with people and listen

Since your work as a resource manager is people-first, always take the time to understand stakeholders’ goals and objectives and employees’ challenges and aspirations.

Take it from Laura. Whenever she joins a new company as a resource manager, she starts by doing a stakeholder listening tour. Referencing her latest experience, Laura shares:

I spent about two months going and talking to each of the senior level leaders in the different business units, and then everybody one step down from them. It was like a ‘listening tour’. And I asked them a lot of questions related to resourcing.”  

The idea is simple — dig into the current state of things:

  • How much do the stakeholders understand about resource management?
  • What are some common themes in their challenges and struggles?

The insights you gather will arm you with fodder for areas to focus on. Use them to inform your resource strategy — what direction you’ll take, the tactics you’ll use, the challenges you’ll tackle, and ways your work will contribute to business goals.

By learning how familiar stakeholders and individuals are with resource optimization practices, you can also come up with a plan to educate them on the importance of resource management.

Keep reading ➡️ Mastering Stakeholder Management: A Guide

A reminder though: you don’t want to be talking to stakeholders alone, you want to prioritize understanding the people you’ll manage as well.  

Christine Robinson, Managing Director of Resource Management at Baker Tilly US advises:

I’d say the first and the most integral best practice as it relates to resource management is really drilling down to the fundamental basic, which is that the resources who are being managed are people. And so establishing your relationships with people, acknowledging their talents [...] and really understanding how they are motivated and what they aspire to do, that's going to be the key to success across the board.” 

3. Work on getting buy-in for resource management

Admittedly, getting buy-in can be challenging. With the right plan, however, you can effectively win stakeholders. The key? Start small.

Instead of trying to secure buy-in for a full program, get the green light for a 6-month trial program.

Make sure the trial program is connected to solving a specific business challenge based on the organizational challenges you review. This way, you can promise specific results that once delivered can get you buy-in for a full resource management program.

We’ve a full guide on securing buy-in for resource management that takes you through how to create such a plan: dig in here

4. Go after low-hanging-fruit to secure wins fast

Another essential to-do on a successful resource manager’s list is building ground-up support for their work. Doing so makes it easier to get your hands on data that, in turn, assists you in securing early wins and stakeholder buy-in.

One way to go about hitting this point on your checklist is to work with a team that has been complaining about resource challenges. For instance, a team that has been saying they’re at maximum capacity and need more team members.

Martha explains:

You have to build ground-up support [for resource management]. And one way to do that is talk to the different departmental teams, and pick a team that is saying they have too much work but not enough people, they have high demand, and everyone’s working overtime. That might be one of your key teams to start with.”

Take this team in your trust — explaining how your program will help them and how they can help you make the program a success (say, by sharing their time utilization data with you). 

5. Get confident with data

Impact and success in resource management come from solid data backing your case.

For instance, if you’re making a point in favor of resource optimization, you’ll need the utilization rate to paint a convincing picture.

The same holds true for taking steps to reduce burnout within the workforce. You can’t make a case until you have data proving employees are overworked.

 Being confident with data, however, has a two-step requirement:

  • One, you learn to source data
  • Two, you learn to interpret data

For the former, pairing up with a department/team that has been complaining (that we talked about in the last point) is a good way to source data. You can also look into data that’s sitting right under your nose such as data in your project management tool.   

As for the latter, learn data analysis and visualization to make sense of the data you gather and use it to tell convincing stories. The resource management software you use can also play a significant role here — giving you informational charts and graphs to back your case. 

6. Establish your communication channels

Besides helping you secure buy-in and get ground-up support for resource management, clear communication helps you show your impact.

Communication serves you best when it’s consistent though. This is possible when you set expectations by selecting your primary channel for communication and frequency of communication.

Two more things that help make your communication impactful: keep your messages short so they aren’t ignored and tailor your message to the people you’re talking to. Here, answering the ‘what’s in it for me’ question every time you plan an update for individuals will help you engage target folks’ attention. 

Related ➡️ What is Open Communication & Why it Matters in the Workplace.

7. Become familiar with the project work

This doesn’t mean you go knee-deep into project work. However, having some surface-level understanding of open projects, how they work, and what skill sets are involved will help you work better with project managers.

Laura Dean Smith notes:

You don’t have to be an expert — as in, you don’t need to have the level of knowledge required to actually do the work on the project in order to be able to successfully map out what the project needs in terms of resources. But you should really take an interest in the work and have a desire to want to learn what is going on in these projects and what is needed for them.”

The question now is: how do you develop your understanding of these projects? The answer is simple: you let your curiosity guide you in asking questions from the people heading these projects.

Remember, people love talking about themselves, how they manage things, and more. All you need to do is ask the right questions. 

8. Build a solid toolkit

From resource planning to allocating resources, there’s a lot on your plate. Despite all the workload, if you’re serious about driving impact, you need to build your resource management tech stack.

The right tools will save you time, make it easy to collate data, and improve the way you collaborate with your team and cross-departmentally.

Most of all, the right resource management software will automate repetitive tasks, giving you the mental bandwidth to focus on things that matter. Not to forget, helpful resource management tools can simplify data-backed decision-making for you. 

Further reading ➡️ The Buyers’ Guide to Resource Management Software for 2024

Now, of course, you can use a bunch of tools to help with your responsibilities like resource allocation, skills analysis, and more. 

Or, you can save yourself from jumping from one tool to another by using a robust, all-in-one resource management tool like Runn. It can help forecast resources, build a skills inventory, track utilization, and plan and manage capacity among other things.

Pro tip: Don’t limit building your toolkit to buying software alone. Invest in building your skills and getting certifications as well. For instance, if you aren’t already RMCP certified, consider looking into how valuable it can be for you. Here’s our in-depth guide on RMCP certification to help you with this. 

9. Expand your network

Last but not least, grow your network.

Build relationships outside of your workspace — connect with peers, mentors, and thought leaders in the industry that challenge your thinking.

Not only would building your network increase your knowledge in the resource space but also refresh you. As Laura Dean Smith points out:

Resource managers are very people-first and relationship-first thinkers. True, we love our data. We love all of the other reporting pieces. But, really, we are people people. We work best when we double down on connecting with people and building relationships with them.”

So remember to proactively meet people online and/or attend industry events. Just take your authentic self into the picture and go in with a zero-motive mindset to build strong, meaningful relationships. 

Want to meet industry experts and peers in one place?

Join our webinar series LEAP where experts talk about the future of resource management and community members chime in with their questions. Each month, we invite seasoned resource managers to join us to discuss a new topic that the resource management community is excited to explore. Take a look ➡️

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