Last year’s calendar is closed and a new one has been opened. Sometimes, with work projects, there are fewer distinct ends and beginnings, so that is why staying motivated on long-term team projects is key.
From those giant color-it-in fundraising thermometers to grocery lists, in every element of our lives there is an opportunity to cross things off along the way and reflect on the process to improve for future projects. Doing this as a team not only means you can celebrate together on the completion of your collaboration, but learn together to approach the next project in a more effective and efficient manner. Because there’s nothing quite like getting to the end and being able to click ‘complete‘ for that satisfying check mark to appear.
We’ve done our share of team projects and want to share four of the approaches we’ve found useful:
1. Don’t get bogged down in every detail – share them
Details are important. From making sure a construction project has the exact number of reclaimed lumber planks to a new software product being tested on outdated hardware, the details can make or break the end user’s experience.
It is essential to not focus too much on them though. Note the steps necessary, down to the last detail, in your project tasks, assign appropriately, set due date, note information and resources (such as the vendor or inspector name), then move on to the next detail.
As a team, you can all handle every last detail, don’t take it on by yourself of you’ll become bogged down. Some details align better with certain team members tasks, so assign with the big picture in mind.
2. Set milestones
Creating distinct and specific project milestones helps mark the passage of the project and feel its completion creeping closer. This goes a long way toward team morale, as well as accurate planning of resources, budget, and time.
Set the milestones to encapsulate smaller segments of the project that fit together. This also makes the overall larger project appear more approachable to team members who are taking on numerous tasks.
Each of the milestones allows the opportunity to click complete on an important element of the overall project without losing momentum.
3. Focus on WHY
Throughout the project, never forget WHY you are doing it. This will keep you and your team motivated. If you know the end user personally, or have met them, post a photo on your office wall as a motivator.
Make sure the team is reminded that every step of the process, no matter how menial or tedious it may feel, is vital for the project’s success.
Set the stage for team members to visualize the finished project and why that end goal matters.
Also, stay focused on WHY you have the deadline date you do. If it an arbitrary deadline, set a reward for the team, such as a lunch out to mark the completion. A celebratory lunch will also help commemorate the hard work and give a sense of pomp and circumstance to the occasion.
With long-term projects, a proper event, ceremony, or even an announcement to congratulate the team and show off the end result is necessary closure for all the long hours and careful work.
4. Evaluate and improve
At the end of the project, there is also a time of post-completion evaluation in which your team will find it useful to consider the processes applied to the project approach and how effective and efficient each was in reaching the end goal.
This is an essential and often overlooked element of a major project and can even be done at intervals for smaller bunches of tasks or at the milestone marks.
Set time aside to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of team members as a group, but privately address issues to avoid going forward.
Make notes that the team can add to or edit to create a complete and multi-perspective evaluation of the project, its process, the successes, and the pitfalls. This debriefing will help the next segment or project run even better!
These four approaches help motivate your team to the completion of a project without losing momentum. Of course, encouraging each other and relying on each team member’s strengths will also go a long way, but that’s a collaboration post for another day.
Do you love clicking complete as much as we do? How do you keep your long-term team projects on-track without losing motivation?
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