Tips To Increase The Engagement Level Of Your Project Team

PM Center Insider

– by Dr. Wayne Richards Jr.

Dr. Wayne Richards
Dr. Wayne Richards

Dr. Wayne Richards serves as a PM Center Faculty teaching in the MPM Degree Program at Bellevue University. He is also the Program Manager of External Programs at Raytheon Intelligence where he leads the execution and supports the capture of internally/externally funded programs for professional engineering services and the buildup/integration, test of shelter systems for the External Programs PMO; responsible for an AOP of $10-20 Million annually. He earned a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from Walden University, MBA from Troy University and BS in Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland UC. He brings over 10 years of project management experience.  He brings over 10 years of project management experience having worked in the U.S Air Force, manufacturing and aerospace industry.

Project Management is known for integrating complex requirements to produce an intended outcome (e.g. product or service).  The tasks of a project manager (PM) can be stressful if he/she does not properly manage the engagement level of his/her project team.  Employee engagement is the foundation of productivity and is guided by an interpersonal skill set that is derived from emotional intelligence. As a result, PMs must display astute emotional intelligence while managing execution through the various life cycles of projects.  The “Modern PM” must become versed in how to manage and address unwanted behavior, as well as providing a robust reward system to reinforce the behaviors that are needed to reach the intended outcome of the project.  Sound behavioral management will enhance project execution and increase the satisfaction of the project sponsor and key stakeholders.  Here are a few simple tips to increase the engagement level of your project team:

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  1. Communicate often in a transparent manner. This approach reduces the level of uncertainty that a project environment brings during the initiating phase and establishes a foundation of trust within the team that you will supervise.
  2. Actively listen to the concerns of your team members and stakeholders. This approach will give your stakeholders and team members the willingness to communicate issues openly. Developing an environment that facilitates open dialogue gives the PM the ability to qualify and quantify risks. In addition, the PM will be able to challenge stakeholders and team members to find offsetting opportunities for the risks that are presented.
  3. Invite constructive conflict. Once the foundation of trust is established, the team will be more willing to go through the storming stage; conflict. The storming stage is a huge barrier and prevents project teams from transitioning into high performance teams.
  4. Take time to get to know your project team and key stakeholders personally in a genuine manner. You would be surprised at how engaged your stakeholders and project team will be after wishing them a happy birthday, wedding anniversary or remembering something about their personal hobbies. This practice helps to show your stakeholders and team that you value them as people.
  5. Praise in public and handle disagreements or reprimands in private. Tell the world about the successes that your team has achieved and do it often. This reinforces the behaviors that you need.  On the other hand, if you have faced the inverse of success handle that offline. Remain calm and work towards a resolution together and keep that communication to a small audience. Blasting team members for failures in an open forum will decrease employee engagement and cause the project to falter.
  6. Invoke shared leadership on your team. When team members have skin in the game they feel more accountable for the overall success of the project.

Following these 6 simple steps will allow the “Modern Project Manager” to achieve success in maintaining high levels of employee engagement in any project environment. The project manager must use these tools in a genuine manner in order for these tips to work. Increasing the interpersonal skill set is a key tool that a PM must have in his/her tool bag. All projects require the application of interpersonal skills and becomes increasingly challenging as projects are geographically dispersed across multiple regions and cultural domains.