As an incognito project manager, I found it quite motivating when our team leader acknowledged and made use of background and skills that I possessed beyond the task I was brought in to provide.
Tapping into these skills to help solve the problems we were facing and to better manage our stakeholders established a higher level of partnership and teamwork not otherwise possible if our PM had attempted to tackle these challenges on her own.
Such team member utilization however requires the following to really make it work:
§ Know and respect your team members
What are each of your team member’s strengths and weaknesses? What is their interpersonal style and how does that compliment your own? How could they help with the project management challenges you are facing? What background and experiences have they had? What are their interests and aspirations?
§ Keep roles clearly defined
Delegate tasks, not your authority (such as it is – but that’s a whole ‘nother topic). Establish boundaries on what you would like team members to do to help, and how you would like them to go about it. Our project manager, for example, invited me to join a meeting with a key stakeholder to discuss a future project. Prior to the meeting we talked about my role, and how she wanted me to bring in my expertise.
§ Test the waters for motivation and ability
Don’t assume your team members want to use the skill set you see in them. Talk to them first. They may not be willing to go there at the moment. Also don’t assume a high level of proficiency. It may have been a long time ago, and things could have changed since then. Start with little assignments, then expand from there.
§ Balance requests with workload requirements
Of course the immediate tasks and schedule are the highest priority for your project team members. They may get excited about helping out, but if it takes them away from doing the tasks they have been assigned, hold off for another day.
Your project team is your key to project success. Make full use of their background and experience as needed – and appropriate. Such partnership will keep them engaged and motivated – and help ensure both the project and you are successful.
a.k.a. The Incognito Project Manager