At some point, you’ve probably been asked to step up and take ownership of a project or initiative. Whether this meant leading a business group in a new direction or organizing a sports club, church team, or community group, you didn’t do it alone.
It takes more than one person to make great things happen. It takes a team. I’ve spent most of my professional life managing and working in project teams, and I’ve noticed that the most effective teams have leaders who motivate everyone to band together in pursuit of a common goal. Here are four tactics that can help you build a motivated project team.
Look for the win-wins
Pretty much anyone will give you their time in exchange for a paycheck. If you want your team to go the extra mile, though, you’ll need to explain the benefits—for the team and for each individual. If you’re not sure what motivates each individual, simply ask them. “How would success on this project help you?” “What happens if we don’t achieve your goal?” “What motivated you to join this team?” Once you learn why people care, you have a foundation for your core message. Repeat this message early and often, and you will secure and maintain personal commitment from everyone on your team.
Don’t punt on your project kickoff
Your project launch meeting should be a two-way conversation. As the project owner, you have a responsibility to articulate the expected results. You should also define everyone’s role and explain why they are critical to the team’s success. But don’t approach this meeting as though you have all the answers. Sketch out a plan and then prepare to do a lot of listening. If the team believes it is “our plan” instead of “your plan,” they will be more invested and less likely to point the finger at their peers down the road.
Celebrate the base hits and sacrifice flies
It takes time to make great things happen. Your job, as a leader, is to battle fatigue and keep your team from burning out. Recognition and encouragement can go a long way, especially in extended, complex projects. Evangelizing little wins and the individual contributions that made them happen will keep team members energized. Publicly praise not only the high achievers but also the people who do the ‘little things’ that are critical to your success. And don’t forget to include your organization’s leadership in these communications.
Take a “better together” approach to winning
Studies show that diversity makes teams more innovative and effective. This is something we learned early on at Bridge Partners. We solve problems and innovate much faster when we put together a team with diverse backgrounds, unique perspectives, and different skills. We call this our “better together” approach. Encourage engagement from everyone on your team, regardless of differences in opinion, expertise, or seniority. This sort of collaboration might cause some initial discomfort, but it will benefit everyone in the end.
Some people are born with leadership skills. Others need coaching and time to develop those skills. Whether these core concepts come naturally to you or not, they can help you get the most out of everyone on your team. When everyone is engaged and motivated, your team can come together to achieve great things.