Your project team is the single biggest factor in the successful completion of your project. When everything is stripped away, a project is nothing more than teams of people doing some work, and the quality of the final products will only be as good as the people producing them.
So how do determine who to pick for your project, and what can you do to ensure the people perform well?
What Your Project Team Wants
I wish I could give you one magic bulletproof way to ensure your team is passionate about delivering your project. But unfortunately human factors are not nearly as black and white as Project Management 101.
Nonetheless, there are some clear guidelines that govern this area. This is what your project team wants:
- Appreciation for their work. I know they’re getting paid for it, and it’s their job. But they still want to feel appreciated for doing it.
- Job Security and Stability. Maybe you’re a serial entrepreneur like I am that hate steady incomes due to the sheer boredom of it. But most people are not. They want to know they have a job tomorrow and a paycheque. They also want to know the company they work for is stable and is going to be around in a few years.
- Work-life balance. They see work as only part of their life. The other part needs to be respected by their employer.
- Learning and career development. Sometimes it might seem like you are paying to give them training so they can leave and use it for your competitors, but you should avoid that thinking. Everyone wants to move forward in their careers, and if you give them the chance they will not only increase the chances of staying with you, but they might even use their new skills for you (what a novel concept!).
- Interesting work. I know the boring stuff needs to get done, but why not spread the interesting stuff around. Allow multiple people to work on them together.
Much research has gone into this field and I will not be able to do it justice here. There are many other factors that play out in worker happiness, but I promise that if you practice all five of these well, you will succeed in making, and keeping, your project team happy.
There is one fundamental measure of a leader: The number of people who follow. Luckily, you have project team members who already follow you (happily or not!). That gives you a chance to prove your leadership skills and make them want to follow you, as opposed to it being their job.
Fortunately for most of us, if you’re thinking you must have a chrismatic personality to be a good leader, I strongly disagree. This is an urban myth. Motivating people is one aspect of leadership, but I would argue it’s a secondary one that is accomplished at the office using other means than a chrismatic personality. Actually, people who have charismatic personalities often struggle to gain trust in a workplace management setting.
Leadership contains many elements, but in order to stay true to my style of isolating the most important ones, I believe that if you focus on the following three qualities of leadership you will do pretty good:
- Vision. I believe this is the most important. I am a person of vision and I’ve seen people align behind me after I present them with a vision of where I want to go.
- Passion. People don’t have enough excitement in life, and there’s nothing more exciting than someone who’s passionate about getting where they’re going. And there’s also nothing that’s too boring that you can’t be passionate about it. I don’t care if your project is to count sidewalk cracks, no matter how boring it is your project team would love it if you were passionate about it.
- Competence. People don’t align behind leaders who they are unsure will make it to the finish line. If you are in a situation where you are not confident in your ability to get to a successful project conclusion, I believe you need to make changes immediately. Change the project scope. Deal with the issues. Move yourself – whatever you have to – but staying where you are is not helping your career or the careers of those that work for you.
If you want to learn more about leadership, John Maxwell’s classic 21 irrefutable laws of leadership is a must read. I’ve read it several times, and I can’t figure out which ones are more important than the others. There really are that many aspects to good leadership.
In leadership theory, there are four major leadership styles:
- Bureaucratic: Top down, rules oriented, and autocratic. Ideal for work that has high safety risk or involves alot of money, but not for creative activities.
- Charismatic: Workers are inspired by the vision and personality of the leader. Ideal for situations where a high level of motivation and work ethic is more important than technical factors.
- Servant leadership: The leader works with the team, and focuses on meeting the needs of the team, rather than elevating themself above it.
- Transactional: Leadership is based on the transaction of salary paid for work performed. Leaders and followers both have the responsibilities that the relationship gives them.
There is a fifth leadership style, called transformational leadership, which is gaining momentum and is generally used as the standard for leadership today. This style involves a strong vision and a high level of integrity. It also involves a high level of “emotional intelligence,” which refers to keeping the project team aligned through uncertainty, essentially, “being the rock.”
When people work well together and the environment is motivating, the result is a condition that Stephen Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” calls Synergy. Simply put, it means that 1 + 1 = 3. Everybody is passionate and goes the extra mile because they are satisfied.
Think of the last time you’ve been really excited, even if it’s non-work related. Was it a vacation, or a special moment, or something else? Whetever it was, it probably had to do with some sort of anticipation of a future event, and you put in 110% to get to that event. This, my friends, is the goal. Even if you can create a tiny bit of that feeling in your project team, you will be miles ahead.
Good luck and let me know in the comments how you motivate your project teams and how it worked out.