Thanks for a job well done

So you’re finally done that project you’ve been heading up for the past year. Now what?

If you’re Bill Ozeroff, manager of strategic systems and architecture for Burnaby, B.C.-based BC TEL Mobility, it’s time for two things: celebration and consideration.

The first may sound obvious, but can often be overlooked as one project tends to overlap the next and staff members take on new assignments. According to Ozeroff, celebrating is an essential part of the process and can be as simple as lunch or billiards.

“We go to a Playdium (an amusement park) and do team building there or do some paint ball…or just go shoot some pool,” Ozeroff said.

Now more than ever, he noted, it is important to reward staff and recognize their contributions.

“Before you used to be able to hang on to them and not have to tell them anything, but now you have to create a fun place to work. Part of my job is to say ‘Are you having fun?'”

John Alley, senior project leader for the City of Mississauga, Ont., agreed.

“The more positive the experience of any particular project, the easier it is for people to get excited about meeting a new group, starting a new team and diving in,” Alley said, adding that a lunch in the boardroom may be all it takes to show a little appreciation for the team.

“Our projects are high stress and we need to be able to take a breather and say ‘There, we’re done,'” he said.

Michael Bauer, senior director of information technology services at the University of Western Ontario in London, stressed the importance of such an effort for maintaining good relationships with staff members.

“It lets them know that I or the president or vice-president values their work because a lot of times during a three or four month project you don’t get a lot of time to say thanks and you want them to know that you value their work. It’s often nice just to mingle with them and let them know that you do appreciate it,” Bauer said. “It gives them an opportunity also to ask you questions and I think it helps the communication, kind of breaks down some of those barriers.”

In fact, communication is the key not only for successful projects, Ozeroff said, but for staff motivation as well. Another idea when a project is complete may be to consider the role played by staff members. In addition to marking the end of a project with a celebration, it is equally important to talk with staff about future goals and objectives.

“Talking to make sure everyone understands where everything is going is probably your number one motivating factor. The main thing about motivating your staff is putting them into the right place. You’ve got to move them around. You’ve got to ask them where they want to go and then put them into those positions,” Ozeroff said.

Similarly, it is essential for a project leader to know and recognize what staff find interesting and challenging, both for personal satisfaction and successful teamwork, Alley said.

“You can have people that maybe are not meeting your expectations because it happens to be that they’re not doing quite what they would like to do. And I’ve had that with some people on my team. When I found out particularly what they liked doing it was just amazing to see how well they did,” Alley said.

So what happens when things don’t work out exactly as planned and a project falls apart? Project managers agree this too must be celebrated.

“So what if they weren’t successful in completing the project, but they were successful in saying, ‘The project isn’t going to work, we’re going to stop it.’ That in itself is a success, just to say ‘OK, let’s stop it. Let’s not pour anymore money into it,'” Ozeroff said. “You can celebrate that as well.”