As the year ends, I think about the successes my teams have achieved in this extremely challenging year. Project approvals, new products on market, building new teams, finding creative ways to manage through the 2020 Covid-19 crisis. We have gone above and beyond, pushing the limits of technology to replace the interactions which we once took for granted. The thoughtful recognition of a job well done is one of the many vocations of the modern project manager. In this post, we will explore some of the public, private and personal approaches to acknowledge the great work of our teams. Here are a few of my favorite team building ideas, some of which I have employed. Other contribution were shared by colleagues within the project management community.
I’ve often solicited input for team recognition events through a survey and found the democratic selection celebration events to be a winning strategy. Ironic as it may seem, many groups tend to prefer team celebration events, even after spending months together “in the trenches” brainstorming, challenging, debating and working long hours in close contact. Some of the most successful team events I have participated or hosted have been:
- Private Cooking Class– sharing a meal is wonderful, but creating one together is sublime! We had sixteen team members, broken into groups of four to prepare a four-course meal. This was truly special.
- Lunch Event – one of the constraints is the limited availability of team members outside of normal working hours. A weekday lunch ensures that the celebration will take place within work hours and allows the team some well-deserved time away from the office.
- Trivia – there are many options for hosted, private event Zoom® and video conference trivia platform. This goes over especially well with technical and scientific project teams.
- Service – pitching in together in a community service event is an excellent vehicle for team building and helping to restore a “service mindset”. This link provides three excellent places to begin your search for local volunteer opportunities: Volunteer Opportunities
- Comedy Club (Or Theatre) – Elizabeth Harrin, founder of Girl’s Guide to PM, is one of the best resources for project management. This suggestion is one of 15 offered on her blogspot: https://www.girlsguidetopm.com/15-ways-to-celebrate-success/
- Happy Hour – Whether in person or virtual, a bit of respite with a beverage of choice is always a classic.
- Games – Fostering team-building and celebration events has become an industry unto it own. So many options exist, from bowling to whirlyball to escape rooms, murder mystery and more.
- Create a Team Timeline – this unique idea comes from teambuilding.com and centers on memorializing team contributions on a living timeline. As new events are added, you can reflect on past achievements and significant events.
Personal / Private Recognition
A public team building event may not be possible for distributed teams or when physical constraints prevent the team from coming together. However, this is especially true in 2020, in which many co-located teams transitioned to virtual teams as a precaution against the spread of the Covid-19 virus. However, in other cases, team members may prefer to stay out of the limelight. We, as project managers, should recognize and respect this desire. The following are a few ideas for private recognition and appropriate for teams separated by distance.
- Letter to Management or Supervisor – Consider a letter written to the plant director specifically thanking him or her for the team’s project support. The letter is a written account of team members’ contributions toward the project success.
- Certificate of Achievement – imagine you are an engineer on a team completing a large construction and validation project. On completion of the effort, you received a framed certificate of appreciate signed by the company president and board members. Although the monetary cost of the gift is small, the impact is enormous.
- Company Swag – Blankets, hats, mugs, lawn chairs, pens, leather-bound notebooks are all good candidates for expressing thanks.
- Team Jackets – One of the more creative ideas originates from a manufacturing plant providing company jackets. Whereas company jackets are nothing out of the ordinary, these jackets contain patches for years of service and project participation. Project teams develop a creative project name and logo. Similar to a boy scout or girl scout uniform, the sleeves bear the patches. The decorated veterans are easy to recognize by their many “badges of honor”.
- Personal Wellness Day – the survey works well here to poll the team on their ideas for personal wellness activities. Massage, certificate for dance lessons, cooking class or offsite training of choice are all good options.
Especially after achieving an arduous goal, a team building and celebration event rebuilds, restores and refocuses the group. Bringing the group together for laughs, enjoyment and comradery need not be expensive or elaborate, but is invaluable to the long-term success of your team.
I wish you a wonderful start in 2021 and much project success,
Chartered Project Management