Remember the saying “Anything worth doing is worth doing well”? But worth doing for WHOM?
We expect our team members to commit themselves to delivering the scope of the projects we lead in an efficient, effective and quality-focused manner, but will they do so if they don’t truly appreciate why the project is critical? There are few staff who will do their work regardless of how mind-numbing or tedious it is, as for them, the job is merely something to fill a few hours each day to get a regular paycheque. But for the majority of folks who perform knowledge work, there’s got to be more than just getting paid to encourage excellence.
Most companies have a widely diverse portfolio of work. For staff who are fortunate enough to work on those projects which are tightly aligned to the organization’s strategic objectives, so long as they have a vested interest in the company’s success, the rationale supporting their hard work is evident. But what about those tactical, bread and butter initiatives which don’t receive visibility from the executive floor or which won’t make the difference between a mediocre and a stellar quarter?
With such projects, the project managers will need to work extra hard to motivate their teams to excel. If the team members don’t buy in to the importance of what they are working towards, it will be harder to get them to strive for excellence, and the longer the duration of such projects, the greater the likelihood of reduced motivation and premature attrition.
Practices which can reduce such issues include:
- Making sure YOU believe in the benefits of the project. If the project manager is unable to act as an authentic cheerleader for their project they shouldn’t expect their team members to be. This requires taking the time when first assigned to the project to get a full understanding of the business case from the sponsor and other key stakeholders.
- Reducing distance between your team members and those who will directly benefit from the project. If we have never met anyone who will be positively impacted by the work we do, it can be challenging to see how we are making a difference. Seeking out opportunities for team members to meet stakeholders and to hear directly from them how they will benefit from the team’s hard work will make it meaningful. Let them live a day in the life of the processes they are changing to experience pain points personally.
- Deliver early and frequently. The earlier and more regular the pace of delivery, the more team members will see the fruits of their labor being consumed, regardless of whether an agile or a traditional approach is used.
Last week’s article emphasized the importance of psychological safety in the formation of high performance teams. While that is significant, it can’t stand alone. A few years back, I’d written about the 3 C’s of successful project teams – Capability, Capacity and Commitment. The first two emphasize the importance of competency and availability of team members to perform the work, but I feel the last attribute is the most critical as it reinforces the importance of meaning in everything we do.