So, who watched the Live Earth concerts this last weekend? Okay, okay, who you even knew there were a series of International rock concerts supporting the conservation of Earth’s natural resources happening this last weekend?
Live Earth was especially significant to me because I’ve be working on a SharePoint based web site for the launch on behalf of Conservation International. My diligent software team and I spent many agonizing hours working around the clock to get the site up and running in a number of weeks for the launch data of 7/7/07, and the site was a great success. This got me thinking, what is it I did to motivate my team into working into the twilight hours? Where do other project managers go wrong under pressure? I can only surmise, but the the following is a short list of some of the things a lead can do to motivate his/her team at crunch time….
Set Expectations – In my experience, both as a project lead and a developer, this is an area where many project managers go wrong. If you expect your team to stay late and work overtime then you need to communicate this fact. It is no good getting upset when employees go home at the regular time and complaining after the fact if you never set your expectations up front.
Get the Team Buy In - Every team member requires some form of motivation to drive them into working late. For some it’s overtime pay, for others it is the thrill of seeing their hard earned effort go into production. Either way, it is important that each member of the team have some level of responsibility and accountability on the project. No man is an island, and it is important to realize that large projects are only ever successful when effort is put in by the whole team.
Work The Hours - If you are asking your team to stay late and burn the late night oil then it is only right that you stay and work the hours with them. This ensures you are available to handle any late night decisions, motivate employees suffering from lack of sleep, and keep the moral level high at all times.
Feed your Staff – Work goes much smoother when your team have full bellies, so if you have to dip into your pocket to buy pizza it is a small price to pay for the success of the project.
Reward Good Work – Honest sincere hard word deserves reward, so if your team pull out the stops and make a success then they should receive both recognition and reward for their work.
Respect Personal Agendas – Once you ask your team to work beyond the regular 9-5 your are encroaching on their personal life. Significant partners, children, and family members become concerned when they no longer get to see their loved ones for a few days. So if members of your team need time to align their personal life cut them some slack.
Be Prepared to Roll Up Your Sleeves – During crunch time anything goes. As project manager you are responsible for the success of the project, and if that means helping out with development or data entry then so be it.
Watch for Burn Out – So you’ve motivated your team to work late, only a little too much, to the point that one of your team members is looking worse for wear and needs to rest. Do not be afraid to enforce sending someone home or at least taking a break – happy alert team members make for a successful project.