There is a clear correlation between good project management and employee engagement. This insight came to us after years of observation while working as consultants on digital projects.
We found that well-managed projects energised and motivated employees, leading to increased engagement, better teamwork and increased positivity about the project’s success.
In our opinion, the key to completing a project successfully is not just blind adherence to processes and policies but the ability to bring together and nurture a team whose members really enjoy what they do, and who the organisation equips with the vision and resources to efficiently complete the job at hand.
High employee engagement leads to higher levels of performance and job satisfaction, improved attitudes towards customers, increased faith by individual team members in the team’s collective competence, and greater commitment towards the organisation – all of which contributes to the success of projects and organisations, according to both academic studies and industry research.
Conversely, the lack of employee engagement hurts a company’s overall financial performance, organisational culture and growth.All this emphasises what industry experts have been saying for years: Organisations must steadily and consistently work towards building employee engagement to be successful.
Those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
Lack energy. Go through the motions. Give work their time not effort.
Unhappy and cynical. Drag down the rest of the team.
The top drivers of employee engagement include “clarity on the organization’s priorities, getting feedback, having the opportunities to use their skills, and career development...” says a 2013 study.
Essentially, team members who know what to do and whose organisations equip them with the tools and resources to do their jobs well are more likely to contribute meaningfully to projects, work well in teams, and register higher levels of engagement than those working without any clarity on what is expected of them.
Follow the four key steps elaborated upon below to ensure successful projects and increased employee engagement.
At the very outset, identify the strengths, skills or skill sets you need for the project. Assemble your team using MuchSkills or by reviewing your organisation’s skills matrix. If you start a project on MuchSkills and type in the skills you need for the project, it will suggest names of individuals who have this skill. Check their availability, shortlist them for the project and invite them for a team meeting.
At the team meeting you:
The kickoff meeting is extremely important because it sets the tone for the entire project.
Introduce the project delivery team to the stakeholders and vice versa so that everyone is on the same page regarding the goals, scope, risks, key deliverables, and everyone understands what is required of them.
The project kickoff must include the project manager, the project delivery team, key stakeholders such as the internal client, department heads, top management, resource manager and any third party contractors.
Everyone should introduce themselves and explain how exactly they are involved with the project. Perhaps they can talk about their roles and what they are in charge of in terms of deliverables.
Make expectations and deliverables clear:
Since all stakeholders are in the room and listening, this is your chance to get all of them on the same page regarding expectations so that there are no surprises down the line. You discuss:
Define the project vision in a single statement:
What is this project about? How does it bring value to the project client or even the end customer? Ask these questions and get everyone in the room to work together to draft a single-sentence vision statement that everyone agrees on. Write down the suggestions on a white board and refine it with the help of all meeting participants till you have a statement that captures the essence of the project.
While the project is being executed, the project delivery team and stakeholders need to maintain contact to ensure that everything is in sync. The project delivery team doesn’t want to reach Step 7 of the project when the stakeholder says you need to rewind because there’s a problem with Step 5. This is important because projects have a limited budget and execution time.
Steps like holding weekly “sync meetings” with stakeholders and project gate meetings – critical points in a project where a formal review of the project's current state is performed – must be built into the workflow for this reason. These gates ensure that the project delivery team gets the necessary buy-in from all stakeholders at the right time.
Successful project management is not only about completing a project but about reviewing it so that you can learn from it. This is done in a project post mortem or retrospective. The point of this exercise is to assess:
Retrospectives should be built into the project so they are not seen as an afterthought. To gain the most out of the exercise, they must be held when everyone still has the project fresh on their minds. The project should officially only end when the post mortem is completed.
It is extremely important that the post mortem is conducted as a positive exercise. It should not be viewed as an exercise to apportion blame for anything that went wrong. This meeting shouldn’t take longer than 90-100 minutes.
Send out a short questionnaire to team members a few days before the meeting. You can have about 10 questions to gage the team’s thoughts about the successes, failures or challenges of the project. The questions can include:
Ideally, you should send this questionnaire online so that you can present the answers at the post mortem and then discuss them as a team. This ensures that all participants leave with useful takeaways from the exercise.
Pro tip: Questions sent out in the questionnaire can be discussed at the meeting using post-it notes if team members have not reflected on them by the time the retrospective is held.
A meeting without an agenda will most likely descend into chaos. Setting an agenda ensures you cover all important points and will leave the meeting with learnings for future projects. Make sure you share the agenda with all participants. This is what the agenda can look like:
At the meeting itself, you must: