By their very nature projects depend on the individuals that work towards the engagements success. Project environments vary across industries and types of organizations. R&D projects tend to be be staffed by teams that are interested in technology and less extraverted while, consulting implementation projects are the polar opposite. The common thread in all projects is that it is up to organizational and team leadership to maintain high levels of job satisfaction and recognition. The recipe for success includes measuring levels of engagement, a regular regiment of team building and concise open communication.
Measuring team engagment can be accomplished via a couple easy metrics. The first: how often is the team sick or requesting vacation. Project environments can be extremly demading and in some cases it may be forbidden to take time away. However, once this type of restriction lifts does the team rush to get away? Goal focused milestone time off is a great benefit for hard working IT professionals. However, frequent sick days and the need to constantly take a day off could be a sign that the team is suffering from malaise.
Team building events can be defined as drinks after work, lunch and learns during the week or a full blown off-site company sponsored event. It is important to ensure that there are a mix of such activities for the project and organizational teams to help encourage cross functional socialization. Even the R&D stereotype enjoys a chance to mix and mingle with peers. Sharing of trials tribulations and more importantly success can go a long way towards making people feel like they are part of the big picture. This can in turn encourage better problem solving and insights into available career path thus improving retention rates and employee satisfaction in general.
Open communication is critical at all levels and especially true in todays unceartin economic climate. Both successes and challenges will be discussed through out the company. By making sure the team is informed at regular intervals it is possible to control the flow of information and discourage conjecture and speculation. Whilst economic data is starting to show signs of improvement the employement rate is still very high on everyone’s minds. Many companies have down sized, right sized or made strategic cuts in the past several months. It is therefore even more important to help reasure the troops that business will continue and even may improve once conditions allow for it.
In closing you may believe that much of the above imformation is common sense or even to simplistic. Keep in mind that is is often easy to overlook the simple fact that we are social beings that have a strong desire to belong. As a result treating a project or a company as an inclusive environment will help to encourage the individual parts towards greater achievements. While the war for talent may now be on hold there is no question that once things stabilize and the supply of available top talent dries up, it will be necessary to look inwards to increase productivity and success. The few organizations that start to see the forest through the trees early will have an undisputable competitive advantage.