In 2019 Google released the findings of their two year study on project results.
The results boil down to this: 5 key questions to which members of successful project teams answer 'yes':
- Can we, as a team, take a risk without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
- Can we count on each other to deliver high-quality results on time?
- Are our goals and roles clear?
- Are we working on something that is personally meaningful to each of us?
- Do we fundamentally believe the work we're doing matters?
None of these have anything to do with proximity, so even in the age of pandemics, multi-location projects, and working from home they can be applied to any project.
It may seem like many of these are out of our control as project managers, but the good news is that social and emotional intelligence tools and concepts can get us to a 'yes' for all of these questions.
Project managers have some powerful ways to get their team functioning well and driving together toward success. Some key ways to point your team toward a 'yes' on Google's questions using social and emotional intelligence:
- Connect - regularly - with each member of your team to establish and maintain a good working relationship
- Understand what motivates each member of your team and look for ways within the parameters of the project to satisfy those motivations
- Engage in regular team-building activities. The big offsite kind of team-building events are great, but there are small ways to build your team every day. Create a team identity. Recognize the expertise on your team and encourage people to ask the experts when they have a problem. Keep a team web page with pictures and fun facts as well as expertise and role.
- Keep the 4 dials of the project (the goals) and their current status front and center. Review them at team meetings. Copy your team on any executive status reports you send so they're up to speed.
- Foster an environment that focuses on process and allows experimentation within reasonable risk parameters. Treat risks and issues matter-of-factly (in other words, focus on solutions, not on blame) and your team will do the same.
- If you see an issue, call it out and start working on a solution. Don't try to hide issues and hope they'll go away. If you do it, your team will do it too and you'll avoid the 'this was due today but I haven't finished - tomorrow for sure' discussion.
- Celebrate often. Celebrate successes (individual and team). Celebrate milestones. Remember that 'we survived' after resolving a difficult issue or recovering from a problem is a valid reason for celebration.
We have the tools. All we have to do is shift focus from just plans and schedules to include the people part of the equation and we can get to 'yes'.