Why you should sweat the small stuff

Small wins at regular intervals will keep your team motiviated.

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1. Increase opportunities for recognition: Give team members visibility into what their colleagues are doing, encourage them to interact and make comments regarding the work. If social media has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that people will interact and make comments about what their friends are doing. If we can foster an environment at work that encourages that type of communication regarding tasks, issues and projects, individual team members will feel a sense of recognition and accomplishment regarding their work.

2. Give the team some autonomy: I'm not advocating an anarchistic project management approach, but engage the team early in the planning process. Give them a voice in timelines and deliverables. This approach works pretty well with SCRUM teams. Shouldn't we allow those closest to the work some decision-making authority in how things are done and who they are done with?

3. Recognize accomplishments: Sometimes the only time the team hears from the project manager is when things fall behind schedule or the project is in trouble. If this is the case in your organization, nobody wants to hear from the PM. Of course, that doesn't mean that recognition should consist of insincere platitudes. A simple acknowledgment of good work is often enough to provide team members with a sense of accomplishment.

4. Make sure everyone knows what the goals are and then get out of the way: "People need to know what goal they're trying to reach, but they have to have autonomy in order to get there," Amabile says. It's a delicate balance. You do want to make sure that people understand what their mission is, but you don't want to micromanage them. If you do, their creative thinking shuts down, and you lose the value of their unique talents, expertise, and perspectives."

This isn't rocket science. If anything, it probably sounds too simple to be of any value. However, over the course of my career I've seen these simple techniques work. Through small means great things are often accomplished.

What are some of the "small" things you do on your project team that reap "big" results?

Now read:
4 tips for a happier project team
Want to be a project leader? Hone these 5 traits for project management success
9 signs your project may be in trouble

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