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3 Ways to Get Even More Out of Your Team

January 2018- by Carl Pritchard, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, Apex Systems Contributor and an internationally recognized author, lecturer and trainer

Top blogs of 2017

It’s been an amazing few weeks. In just the past few weeks, two close friends have had personal tragedy strike in profound and uncontrollable ways. What’s been amazing is their reaction. Both reacted the same way, despite being in completely different professions and environments. “I’m throwing myself into my work,” said one.

“I just go in to work to get away from it all,” said the other. “When I’m crazy busy at work, I’m not thinking about the other problems.”

Just when you think that someone would want time off from work or a chance to escape from the norms of our day-to-day, the opposite transpires. If either of their bosses knew about their deep-seated need for work right now, they’d accommodate. Instead, they’re both being handled with kid gloves, as everyone knows about the tragedies, but has no idea how to respond.

Want to get more out of your team members? There are ways to draw more out of them than you envisioned.

  • Dump more on them, with goals to beat
  • Knock down barriers, together
  • Make the finish lines real

Sure you can get it done. But can you do it by the 30th?

For my two friends, work proves to be an escape. One is a professional trainer. The other is in sales. For the salesperson, management hasn’t set daunting goals. So she’s setting them herself. Part of it is a cash crunch. She needs the money. But she also needs something to focus on outside of her personal life. Talk to her about her personal life, and she quickly becomes depressed. Talk about her 1-, 2-, or 3-year plan and the goals associated with each year? She lights up.

Psychologist David McClelland suggested that every person has three basic needs—the needs for power, achievement, and affiliation. Want to get more out of your team member? Find out where their needs are rooted and tie the work to the need. My salesperson has a high need to achieve. Don’t line up work that puts her elsewhere in the org chart. Don’t offer her opportunities to interact with large numbers of her peers. Simply create clear, achievable goals, and afford her the opportunity to hit them. And the more metrics, the better.

If a team member has a high need for power? Clarify the nature of the power available and how to get there. A high need for affiliation? Tie the desired accomplishment to a group experience.

How can we help us…today?

Helping someone remove a roadblock facilitates higher levels of team performance. Getting them to help remove the roadblock takes the situation to a completely different level. Every job is rife with challenges, and there are plenty of managers who want to remove the challenges so that the team members can get on with their work. While that’s a step in a positive direction, it becomes more positive when the team members are able to handle the situation on their own or with only a nominal amount of support.

When team members identify impediments, we in the management echelons should turn to them for the solutions. In many cases, they already know the solution but would like some affirmation. In other situations, they just need an array of options to work from. And in still other situations, they know they can handle the challenge of the day, but need someone to know that it is, indeed, a challenge.

And you’re done. Done.

Still seeking a way to get more out of your team members? Define “done” or create multiple layers of “done,” but put limitations on it. Few things in life are more debilitating than believing you’re done and finding out there’s additional work required before the effort is recognized as complete. If the goal line continuously moves, the sport is lost.

That doesn’t mean unfinished work is accepted as done.

An author friend of mine crowed to me today that her latest manuscript will be done this week. Is she done?

Yes and no.

Her first draft manuscript is done. And that’s a cause for celebration. It’s a major step forward. It should get a huge checkmark on her mother-of-all “to-do” lists. If she considers herself “done” and has never dealt with editors, however, she’s in for a rude (and depressing) awakening.

An effective manager would lay it out as a series of “done” events.

  • First manuscript – Cause for Celebration
  • First post-edit manuscript – Cause for Celebration
  • Second post-edit manuscript – Cause for Celebration
  • Third post-edit manuscript – Cause for Celebration
  • Fourth and final post-edit manuscript – Cause for Celebration

Note the characteristics. Each is a “done” moment. Each opens the door for celebration. And if we only have to go through two or three? We got done with less work than anticipated, rather than resenting the fact that there are multiple iterations of the process to go through.

Can we get more from our teams?

Absolutely. And as you look at these three suggestions, a common theme should resonate. Team members need to be respected for their true capabilities. If we can recognize what people need and facilitate that with them, rather than for them, everyone wins.

Carl Pritchard, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, is an Apex Systems Contributor and an internationally recognized author, lecturer and trainer. He is the author of seven texts in project management, and serves as the U.S. Correspondent to the UK Project Management magazine, Project Manager Today. He produced the Audio PMP Prep: Conversations on Passing the PMP® Exam with Bruce Falk (just released for PMBOK Guide 6th Edition). And he’s hosting Seminars at Sea, sailing from Baltimore October 2018. He welcomes your feedback at Follow him on Twitter at @carlpritchard and @pmpprep

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