Recognition Activities


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Strong teams don’t just happen. They are made. Program managers have responsibility for teams on multiple levels and have to make sure that project managers are capable of building strong teams.

Our 6 part guide to Team Building at the Program Level will help you put together the team you need to fill skills gaps, meet goals and exceed stakeholder expectations.

Part 1 of 6: Identify Teams
Part 2 of 6: Know Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Preferences
Part 3 of 6: Drive Change through Retreats
Part 4 of 6: Use Performance Appraisals in Program Management
Part 5 of 6: Use Recognition Activities for Individuals and Teams
Part 6 of 6: Deal with Breaches of Program Integrity and Ethics

Part 5 of 6: Use Recognition Activities for Individuals and Teams

Both individuals and teams need to be recognized. You should realize, though, that recognition is a two-edged sword and has as much potential or more potential to demotivate and weaken a team as it does to build up a team. Always praise the team first. This is especially true for public praise. Make sure you have done your homework and are complimenting the right person for the right thing. Personal praise is best done in private, one on one, where there’s little potential for a negative impact on the team. Offer individual praise in a group setting only if there is a strategic or compelling reason for doing so.

The program manager should also counsel project managers and other direct reports to always publicly share praise with the team whenever they receive it. The leader’s role is to build up the team by passing on compliments and to maintain integrity by accepting all criticism for the team. Both of these practices build loyalty and followership and should be taught to project managers by program managers through words and deeds.

The power of praise is often amplified depending on the level of the power structure from which the praise comes. As a program manager, you can leverage this fact. That is, on occasion you can write letters and award nominations to be signed and/or presented by high-level leaders to program personnel. The key is to make it easy and seamless for the high-level leader by providing the words or writing the note for him or her. This is especially effective when you can write it in his or her voice. This also provides some good exposure of the work of your top-performing personnel (individuals and teams).

Does your organization have a culture in which people thank one another regularly, or do you have an “it’s their job” culture in which no thanks are necessary? As a program manager, you lead by example when it comes to thanking others and establishing a positive culture.

One tactic that you can easily deploy and that works well is to ask the following question at the beginning or the end of a meeting: “Is there anyone who would like to thank someone else for a good job this week or for going above and beyond the call of duty?” This question gets your team members in the habit of thanking one another and takes the pressure off you as the leader to always be the one to recognize good work. More important, in work environments where people appreciate one another regularly, the occasional inconsiderate act is often overlooked or easily forgiven.

Another weapon in the program manager’s arsenal for recognition is the handwritten note—not an e-mail, not a pre-printed thank-you card, but a handwritten note. This means ink on paper in your distinctive handwriting. You should have within arm’s length of your work environment and in your briefcase assorted blank thank-you cards. Handwritten notes go a long way because they show that you value the recipient enough to take your personal time to acknowledge his or her contribution or effort.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.