Lessons from an Incognito Project Manager

listening-inI recently changed hats from project team-builder to project team member.  As the e-learning course developer on the team, it has been a very enlightening experience to watch and support our most excellent project manager in action. 


This week I will share what this PM and others I have known have done that has made all the difference in terms of project teamwork and overall project performance.  



Let’s start with recognition and feedback


From day 1 on the project, I was amazed how often our project manager provided just right the amount of feedback and encouragement needed to help us feel good about what we were doing and to spur us on to higher levels of performance.


This included recognition during project conference calls, short conversations, and emails that included statements like “We really appreciate what you are doing”; and “I’m hearing good things from others about your progress.” 


Our PM feedback also included offers of assistance such as “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help clear the way for you to proceed.”


This same level of feedback and encouragement, by the way, was echoed by the project sponsor, and from this it was clear to me that our project manager was in regular conversation with our sponsor – providing updates and feedback on our performance – such that the sponsor was able to chime-in with our PM in a real and effective way.


The impact of such recognition and feedback?



          I felt good about my contribution and had a very clear idea of it’s potential impact on the organization



          I was aware that others were watching and were pleased with my progress and I was therefore more willing to make the extra effort when required



          I knew our project manager had fully engaged our sponsor and that if I ever needed any additional resources or assistance, they would both take action immediately as required.



Want to enhance your project team performance?  Just engage one of your most powerful tools – good ol’ fashioned recognition and feedback.





5 thoughts on “Lessons from an Incognito Project Manager”

  1. User Avatar
    Anuradha Subramanian

    I’d like to add to that a little bit. One mistake I have often seen project leaders make is to only work closely with and/or recognize the most influential or highest-ranking individuals. This makes contributions from other members seem less signficant and impacts team morale in a big way. Finding opportunities to recognize different members of the project team at different times makes contributors stand out so their efforts are not overshadowed by someone else’s.

  2. User Avatar

    Absolutely! It never ceases to amaze me how often this most basic leadership skill is missing from our leaders’ toolboxes. Most leaders these days seem to ‘motivate’ teams with threats and anger, but basic psychology tells us this does not work long-term. We all want to feel valued and the motivation we get from a simple thank you is huge and lasting, but so cheap and easy. In a mature organization, you can usually walk up the ladder and find the one person who sets the positive example that then trickles down. In a truly great organization, that person will be at the very top. Unfortunately, the same can be said for rotten leadership. Sounds like your org has at least a short fragment of good DNA worth replicating.

    1. User Avatar

      Loyal – Yes, giving positive feedback and recognition makes all the difference. Unfortunately it’s usually the exception and not the norm. For those who want to improve in this area I would put forth the positive reinforcement challenge: For every piece of constructive (or negative) feedback, provide at least 3 words of positive reinforcement. For most of us, this is much harder than it looks.

      1. User Avatar

        Yes, but I think the ratio should be much higher than 3 to 1. I’ve heard it said, and have felt it myself: one “Ah-S__t!” can completely undo a long series of “Atta-Boys” 😉

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