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What will Santa Bring Your Project Team?

As I start writing this blog I notice that it will be published not long before Christmas. Don’t really want to think about Christmas yet, but Christmas, like a project deadline, is sure to arrive regardless of what I want to think about.

So, has your project team been naughty or nice? And if you are the Santa of the team, how do you decide who to reward and who to give a lump of coal? The black kind; not the diamond version, which would actually be a pretty popular gift. As a project manager, when you are rewarding a team member you are telling the whole team what you value.

When you reward a person who has worked long hard hours to recover your project from a mess that they created to start with, you are saying “I reward firefighting”. Of course that could mean you suddenly find yourself with a team of arsonists.

Or when you reward the whole team equally with a day off, you are saying “I feel you all contribute equally”. With the possible results that your top performers sink to the level of their peers.

Maybe you reward the person blindly following the process you have established. Now you are saying “Process is king”. This may lead to frustrated customers, inability to get things done, and lack of innovation.

Ok, this sounds a bit negative. More like the Grinch than Santa maybe. So is there a point?

Yes, the point is that rewards matter and rewards impact performance. And there are normally both negative and positive consequences of what you do. What gives positive results for some will be demoralizing for others. Before you do reward, know your people. What is the right reward for this individual? How will the reward impact performance and motivation?

But at the same time, if a person does not deserve anything in their stocking than leave it empty. In that case though, as a good manager, you must sit down and talk about your expectations and in what areas you feel that person can make a better impact on the team. This is one of the toughest parts of being a manager. But that is your job. And that is why they are paying you the big bucks…or giving you the nicest office…or providing you with a really impressive title. You don’t have any of those? Maybe it is time to sit down with your Santa (or Grinch) and find out what their expectations are of you.

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