After mowing and edging the lawn, the weather was so nice I just had to climb on board the motorcycle and spend a couple of hours in the saddle on Saturday afternoon. It's going to be even better on my ride home from work today. I think spring is finally here and we should see warmer and better riding days ahead.
Having spent the morning working in the yard, I have to admit that I felt I had earned my saddle time on Saturday. I imagine that I'll feel the same way about taking the long way home this afternoon. Which has me thinking about the importance of celebrating the completion of a successful project and taking a pause to re-group before the start of the next initiative.
Over the years I can't even count the number of times I've either said that, overheard that or had it said to me. Sometimes, what we were doing really was a waste of time. Other times, because of my lack of perspective, what I thought was a waste of time really had value. Most people, whether they are able to clearly articulate it or not, want to add maximum value to whatever they are doing. I think most of us would agree that those days when we go home and feel like we've accomplished something worthwhile are very satisfying. I like what I do, and those days when I really feel like I'm making a contribution to something worthwhile and not wasting my time are very rewarding.
I don't think I'm that unique. In fact, I believe that most of the time the members of project teams feel the same way. How often have you heard, "I hate wasting time on this," or "This is a waste of time," or "I don't feel like I've contributed anything worthwhile today"?
Like many 10- or 11-year-olds I knew, I used to build model airplanes. It didn't really matter if it was a P-51 from World War II or an F-4 Phantom, my favorites were the models that included a pilot inside. You know how young boys are, I imagined myself as that pilot zooming around—saving the world.
Learning how to follow instructions and paying attention to what came next was important to properly finishing a model airplane. If I had done a good job assembling and painting, my Dad would usually tell me it looked like the real thing. Knowing what comes next is every bit as important for individual members of the project team as it is for boys building model airplanes. When team members have to dig around and search for their next task or assignment, it wastes valuable time and resources.
I don't think any project or business leader worth his or her salt would disagree that an engaged team performs at a higher level. A recent HBR article suggests an engaged workforce is 32 percent more committed to the organization, 46 percent more satisfied with their job and self-report 125 percent less burnout. What project leader wouldn't want a team filled with contributors that fit that description.
Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath, the authors suggest, "Moreover, their not sprinters; they're more like marathon runners, in it for the long haul."
I don't think anyone would disagree that working well with sponsors and other stakeholders is an important part of the project environment. I'm convinced it's even more important now as the line between work and projects becomes harder to recognize. I think this evolution is a good thing. What's more, as it pushes project leaders to become more invested in the business value of what their doing and compelling them to work and collaborate more closely with line-of-business managers to make sure what they're doing will provide maximum value, I think projects will be more successful and organizations will ultimately reap the rewards.
With that said, the type of relationship you foster with your project sponsors and stakeholders is largely up to you. We all understand that everyone on the project team (including the project sponsor) has a role to play that helps determine whether or not a project is successful or struggles. Unfortunately, in many instances, the sponsor might not understand his or her role. With that in mind, here are three suggestions for keeping sponsors engaged and participating:
It's been said, "If you don't like springtime weather in Utah, wait a minute—it will change."
On Saturday my wife and I, along with some friends, rode up one of the local canyons to have lunch. It was pushing 80 degrees. A beautiful, yet windy day, it felt like spring was finally here. Yesterday it snowed. Today, as I sit at my desk, it's 27 degrees with a frigid wind blowing out of the north.