Bob realized the team had been working hard to develop the project plan and get the project rolling. He decided it was time to have some fun. He decided that they all would go out for dinner to a nice restaurant and then go out and play some pool. He asked his administrative assistant and Uma to plan some games and also invited the steering team to the dinner. Since Mark could not make it, he asked Gary to say a few words of appreciation to the team and emphasize what the project means to the company. Uma and Bob agreed that they will have some fun activities during every stage of the project (e.g., cookouts, different culture days, unannounced pizza parties). At every milestone the team members will be shown appreciation for the work done.
At dinner, Gary addressed the team by congratulating them on their success and said that he and every member of the steering team appreciated their contribution. He also made them feel that they had accomplished an important milestone and thanked them for that.
Having a variety of "fun" activities is often a terrific idea; however, it is usually wise to let the group plan their own activities. Different people have very different ideas of "fun".
Throughout the project, project leaders have ongoing responsibilities to develop commitment in all stakeholders; the first part of this commitment is the unofficial desire or motivation on the part of everyone to do what is necessary. The second part is to publicly and officially commit. Motivating all participants is the unofficial commitment work that should take place during project planning in anticipation of everyone formally committing at the end of the planning stage.
Bob, Gary, and Uma focused their informal commitment efforts on the morale of the project team. While that is important, it is only one component. Each project leader should be articulating the benefits and excitement of the project and conveying the "what's in it for me" message. To motivate people it is wise to help them understand that the work they are doing is important, it is likely to be successful, and they will be rewarded fairly for their efforts. In this case Gary did articulate the vision for why the project is important. He could have told the team why he thought the current project approach would be successful.
We know the project team is celebrating, but what about all of the other project stakeholders? Have all the customer groups—internal and external—been involved in celebrating thus far? Do they share the project leaders' enthusiasm for the importance of the project?
Have all other stakeholders who could interfere with the project been communicated with? In some cases it may be difficult to excite them about the project. (Think of unwilling neighbors of a major construction project.) Have the project leaders at least dampened the negative feelings of those people who could be disruptive to the project if they were sufficiently antagonized?
If the project leaders have been communicating effectively and unofficially all along with all project stakeholders and key influencers, and if trust, integrity, and reciprocity have been established with them, then securing their formal approval should not be in doubt.
A Project Leader Needs to:
Accept the need to motivate all project participants
Have the courage to continually articulate the project vision and reasons it will succeed (especially to the reluctant participants)
Exercise the wisdom to understand how to motivate each participant.