As usual, I have some thoughts and opinions - coming from experience, logic and observation - that result in my personal list of six key tips to keep your project teams focused on the end goal...
Pay them well and timely. This may apply more to consulting situations but consultants are people, too. Your PM staffs and supporting team members - pay them well. Trust me, keeping the good ones around - and you know who they are and they know who they are - is very important to the success of your projects, the satisfaction of your project clients and the financial viability of your company. Don't let or force the good ones to leave. It's expensive to acquire and onboard good new talent and your projects and customers are important.
Engage them as early as possible. You want an accountable and motivated project team? Get them assigned as early as possible to the projects. They can assist the project manager in early project planning and even take part in project kickoff. And the sooner the customer sees a full team the better. Your full team project engagement will be better if the team is involved in planning and the customer sees the teams as a well-oiled productive and collaborative unit as early in the project as possible. Yes, that can and will add expenses to the project so make that part of the sales culture and process to plan that in to the price of the projects overall. It is important if you can do it.
Use their proper skill set. Use your team members well for the skills you know they have as well as the skills they want to acquire. But don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole. it will only frustrate them and make them fail. You want them to own the project and their tasks and be accountable. Misusing them won't make that happen. So know your team well, know the team members' skills as well as their limitations and use them as wisely as possible throughout the project. Help them to always succeed. The best leaders do that well. Make that you.
Don't favor the most experienced. Don't favor or always rely on the most experienced or the most skilled. It's easy to rely on the most reliable. But that burns out the best and leaves the rest feeling resentful and underutilized. They will also feel less and less ownership of tasks and accountability to the project. Your goal is to keep everyone equally motivated, accountable and engaged.
Let them learn new skills and leadership. Just as you want to use your team members' skill sets accurately and wisely, don't squash their interests in taking on new roles and acquiring new skills. Do you have a team member that wants to be a project manager in the next 6-12 months? Help them by mentoring them and letting them take a stronger leadership role in the weekly formal call with the project customer. Do you have a business analyst that wants to be the data guy going forward (database, data integration, data security, etc.), look for ways to hand them related tasks or have them shadow resources you've already brought onto the team for those tasks. Your future teams will be even stronger for it.
Give them exposure. Finally, give them good, positive exposure. Let them earn and receive the recognition they deserve by giving them presentation opportunities to the customer and senior management. Call them out for outstanding service in front of the customer and senior management. Trust me, it will highly motivate them. Send out periodic email updates to all stakeholders and senior company management – maybe even company wide updates – where you identify team members by name and note outstanding service to the customer and project. It will go miles toward motivation, accountability and productivity.
Summary / call for input
The well focused and well informed team will be the most motivated and ready to work on productively on your projects. Money helps, too. And that translates into more successful project engagements.
Readers - please share your thoughts on this list. Based on your own experiences leading projects, what would you add or change?