Great project managers are not just fantastic leaders, they are mentors who bring out the best in each and every member of their team. It’s pretty easy to get a bit bored of the consistent ‘inspiration talk’ flooding the business world. Promoting out of the box thinking and wacky ways to get your team to actually give a hoot about what they are doing. Being creative with inspiration is all well and good, but when you’re up to your ears in deadlines and senior management demands, it’s not always easy to practically apply particularly energetic inspiration techniques. Sometimes you need simple and easy ways to get your team to achieve their full potential.
Here we have are some practical ways to inspire your project team:
Be The Inspiration
If you are going to inspire anyone, you have to lead by example. Would you take diet advice from a 50 stone man? Unlikely. Which is why you cannot inspire your team without behaving exactly how you want them to behave. If you want them to keep a positive attitude about the project, don’t go around slating the client you are all working for. If you want them to be punctual, don’t turn up late every day. It’s a really simple tip but is often overlooked because it’s easy to focus on others, rather than starting with number one.
You don’t need to be telling people they are amazing for nothing, of course they need to work for it. However, you should be quite free with your praise where possible because people like to feel good. Recognise each team members individual contributions as well as their achievements collectively as a team. Telling people they have done well is free and easy. Remember how great it felt to be recognised by your teacher at school for good work and be given a gold star? Give your team vocal gold stars, they will appreciate it.
Give Clear Communication
Your communication needs to be clear. When communication breaks down, people can be working to the wrong timescales, question rumours that will inevitably appear and feel unclear about what is expected of them. Give clear, concise instructions and ensure team members know what they are responsible for. Use project management apps to ensure there is a shared timeline and project allocation available for everyone to see. Have daily team meetings where possible, and try to make sure you’re approachable as well. If you’re always busy and never respond to requests for meetings or chats from your team members, they are likely to lose heart and feel undervalued.
Support Personal Goals
If you know individual team members have aspirations or dreams of learning new skills or gaining promotions, support those goals. First and foremost encourage your team to be open about their dreams, then apply those dreams to the project in hand. Although you will be helping the team see why the project is important to the organisation first and foremost, helping them understand how that project is important to them personally will be an even more powerful tool for the projects success. As a project manager you are part detective, and it’s up to you to embrace your inner Sherlock and use your communication skills and people skills to figure out those you are working with and ultimately, bring out the best in them.
These are just some simple ways to inspire your team. Remember, look inwards before you look outwards and you’ll have a great starting point.