How many times have you read an article with manager or supervisor techniques and come away disappointed that you could not use them as a project manager? They are meant for entrepreneurs, those with direct reports in operations or just make assumptions that are not true for you.
It's frustrating because no manager could use help more than a project manager with temporary teams, temporary efforts and a rotating list of skeptical stakeholders. Luckily, you are able to use many of the same tactics, certainly those that focus on influencing and motivating rather than those leveraging your authority over salary and career advancement.
This blog has covered many of these techniques over the years. The techniques below allow you to get the most out of a project team even if it is temporary, and not burn the individuals out or misuse them or abuse them. The best techniques allow you to end up with project team members who would be glad to join your team again.
Help project team members with their personal advancement
You may not be able to promote workers or give them new roles in the organization, but you can help them meet their career development goals.
- For your project team members, keep a list of the types of things that would help them be able to meet their career advancement goals. Just add a column to your team member register and insert general personal development interests.
When you have an opportunity that is a match for their needs, get their assistance. Is it running a meeting? Working with a stakeholder? Completing a report? Do not assume that this will take more of your time. Make it a win-win. Delegate more to save time to spend on your higher priority tasks.
Keep a record of your activities for your own career development. You can show in your performance evaluations that you are a developer of talent on the job. That is beneficial in any organization.
Help the changing team work together better
You may know tactics related to helping individuals work better. For example, you may be able to recognize ways to set up an individual for success in their role. What you may not have practiced previously is techniques used to help the entire team work together better. This is more important in projects where workers enter and exit the project work at different times. When new members enter a team, act to minimize the “bond” that the existing team members have.
When one or more new team members enter the work environment, pause and have everyone meet in a “team restart” to learn about each other and their experiences and expertise. This doesn’t have to be of long duration. Speed them up by sending basic info in advance, then getting more personal during the restart.
Organize these, for example, prior to phases where resources change.
Include a discussion of lessons learned in the project to help new resources get a head start and build a sense of sharing. For example, tips about working with stakeholders or advice on working with partner organizations.
Make sure your employees feel a sense of accomplishment
We often talk about motivating workers by giving them positive reinforcement publicly. But we do not always focus on a related technique of helping them feel a sense of accomplishment. This turns out to be important – especially important in environments where a feeling of accomplishment is more rare. Examples of such environments are those that commonly have long projects, or where resources move quickly from project to project without having a chance to think about their impact.
When major milestones are met, especially when the project has been completed, send a note of appreciation and specify the results obtained and the benefits achieved so that the project team members can see what was accomplished.
Acknowledge the obstacles they overcame, and the extra time they put in. Be specific so that it is easy for them to capture that sense of accomplishment.
These tactics will not only motivate your project workers, they will help make you stand out as a more sophisticated project manager. When you get results and have a motivated team, you are a valuable resource in any organization.