When it comes to projects, as project managers we count on our project teams. From the business analyst to the developers, the database administrators and security, they are all important to the success of the project team. Over my years of working as a project manager, I have worked with many great people and I always made sure to appreciate them and show them how much they are valued. The question is what are you doing to appreciate and show them how much you value them?
As a project manager, you first need to be able to admit that you cannot do it alone. If you got into project management thinking it was a place of power, then you need to find another role. I have seen many project managers act like they are the supervisor over the resources on the team and become authoritarian in nature which just drove the project team away. What I always worked towards was when I was done with a project, that the project team members would want to work with me again. Many times, I had resources ask, “can I work on your next project”? That is the greatest compliment that a project manager can receive. But how did this happen when everyone is so busy? It is easy.
I cannot tell you how many times I would get into a meeting and say, “you are the experts, not me” and I would let them know how much their experience and knowledge were appreciated. If the stakeholders thought they wanted to do one thing, and technically it was better to do it another way, I let the developers explain that to the stakeholders, with me there just to translate as needed. More often than not, the stakeholders appreciated the conversation and learned to let the project team identify the right way to go. This also brought about collaboration and more direct communication between the team and the stakeholders as I was not serving as the middle-man. It showed they were just as important in communication with the stakeholders as I was.
On long projects that were running in a traditional method I always made sure to have some sort of mini-celebration. Whether that was just taking them to lunch, bringing in a cake, little treats, fun certificates, something to let them know their hard work and perseverance was recognized and appreciated. At the end of one large project I even arranged for the CIO and President to sign off on the certificates of appreciation, had a lunch for them, and a presentation from the CIO and President to the project team members.
When I started getting into the position of implementing and growing a PMO, I made sure that even the templates used for scheduling included a task called “celebration”. All the PMs that I trained I made sure they understood the importance of these simple acts of appreciation. One PM experienced it first-hand the first time he put this into action when the project team he was working with seemed to step up the pace and be willing to do more throughout the project.
Understand, as humans we all want to know we are appreciated and valued. As adults, the experience we have is important to us and the ability to share those experiences are just as important. By not taking the time to recognize, appreciate and value your team, you are missing out on some amazing things that could happen. I have seen teams willing to put in extra hours instead of grumbling about it, I have seen what I would have considered unfeasible deadlines met, all of this without the project team not getting burnt out even with the long hours.
For agile methods, I see this even more important because agile is basically constant development and no real end, so it is important for the scrum master or agile coach to ensure that these celebrations of their work are done. More and more I see agile teams working away, with little time for appreciation or recognition of value. One agile team I recently supported from a PMO perspective did not however forget this. At the end of their first big release, they held a celebration with lunch, and even had T-shirts for everyone. This reinvigorated the team to keep going…and they are now working on completing the third large release.
The moral of the story here is do not take your teams or resources for granted. Tell them thank you, tell them how much you recognize their experience and value their knowledge, take them to lunch, give them a certificate you printed off for them…appreciate them. Other things that can be done include:
- Writing a letter of appreciation recognizing the skills and experiences of the team members
- Talk about a team member’s success during a project meeting
- Get to know more about them personally
- Listen to them
- Have a point system where when reaching a point level, they receive something
- Ask them for feedback on you
- Brag about them to their direct managers
- Recognize their passion
- Give daily recognition
These are just a few ways that you can show appreciation and recognition to your teams, and before long they will be coming to you asking to work on your next project. Projects can be stressful enough. As the role of project manager, you should be making sure your team does not reach the breaking point and above all, that they know they are valued. To this day, because of how I mentored and trained people, many tell me where ever I go, they would follow. This is the greatest compliment a person can receive, and one that all should strive for.
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Author, Speaker, Project / Program / PMO Thought Leader
Over 20 years project management experience with a passion for helping organizations grow their PMO, their project managers, and their teams. My passion has taken me to the pursuit of a Doctor of Education, as I enjoy seeing the proverbial light bulb come on. I am a believer in continuous growth and improvement, and believe that an organizations culture and environment is what drives the growth of PMOs and all areas, and not the other way around.