August 25, 2014

Thoughts on Tradition, Appreciation and Teamwork

I believe work should be fun. And I think I can prove it. Some of you may have heard of the trend towards gamification in day-to-day project management. Following on that trend, here are some battle-tested tips that you can use as-is or modify as you like, Creative Commons, I wouldn’t get offended, promise:

  1. Make sure your team members have something to be proud of regularly. This can be tasks completed, a challenging problem solved, a three-pointer shot straight into the wastebasket =) Seriously without getting too far away from useful wins,  appreciate all of those.
  2. Shout out loud when you succeed! Remind the team to not be shy when a tough bug gets squashed or when the client is delighted! As a manager, make an example of yourself: do the wave after a successful demo, bust a move after holding out against scope changes mid-sprint, invent a traditional “winner dance” for your team or encourage a unique expression of happiness for each. Whatever you do, do it together and make it visible! I can shout “I’m the master of the world, boo-ha-ha” or just stand up and moonwalk.
  3. Most important, when someone celebrates his or her win, the rest of the team should applaud. Clap loudly for your team-mate’s moment of glory =) Yes, it is a Moment of Glory, nothing less, so give this feeling to your team members, they deserve it.

That’s it! =) Repeat each time someone does a great job =)

A few more comments…

When you get a similarly gorgeous appreciation system working, you will also need something “opposite” – a way to acknowledge dumb mistakes or failed team work without humiliating or belaboring the mistake. Allow the team to laugh together while still acknowledging that a mistake was made. Buy a “stupid” hat, or a Blondie doll (people with light hair, I do understand that you are as smart as people with other hair colors, even those who dye their hair), or Gold medal for anti-clever solution … Turn your imagination on! Try to remember what word is used in your team for such “hits” and give it a material symbol.

This “trophy” can be used as award going from one person to another =) But don’t forget #3 – give an applause for it as well.

And finally, here is a list of questions to bear in mind:

  • If someone doesn’t get to do a “winner dance” for a long time, what can I do as PM?
  • Number of winner dances vs team performance, any correlations?
  • How can these methods aid in team-building?
  • Do team members know what went well and what failed?
  • Will it add more fun to our work?