The third post in this short series on good communication covers the benefits of explaining the purpose of the project to your team.
Motivate Your Team by Explaining the Purpose of the Project
Good communication is not just created by regularly holding meetings and sending out reports. Those meetings and reports need to have a content which will motivate and inspire your team. In this third post on communication, I would like to talk about explaining the purpose of the project to your project team and how this can be used to motivate your team.
Explaining the Purpose of the Project to the Project Team
Information regarding the purpose of the project is not directly relevant to the team for them to get their tasks done. From one point of view, they have no need to know this inforamtion at all. They just need to complete their tasks as planned.
Explaining the purpose of the project can however, be hugely helpful to motivate the team to get the tasks done on time and to a high level of quality. Having a motivated project team who are all working towards a common goal is the biggest benefit a project manager could have. So, explaining the purpose of the project in a way that motivates the project team is a big help. Surprisingly often, the goal of the project is not communicated to the project team at all. Even if the goal is communicated, it is often not done in a way that will motivate the project team.
Communicate to Motivate
There could be many different reasons why a project exists. However, these can be summarizes as: “The project has the goal of achieving an advantage for the organization”. Often project sponsors explain this advantage in very high-level terms. E.g. “This project will increase our profitability by X%”, or “This will improve our customer relations in the area of Y”. From an executive team perspective, this is a great message. For the purpose of motivating the project team however, this type of message is almost useless.
When looking at the message that you want to send to the project team, it is important to put it in a form that the team can directly relate to.
Compare the two messages below, which both correctly describe one goal of a project in different terms:
“By completing this project, we expect to be able to save over 300 hours of effort each month.”
“By completing this project, we expect to raise our profits for this service by 3%.”
While both messages are correct, the first is far more likely to motivate the project team. The benefit to the organization is explained in a way that is tangible. They can see that the project will be of benefit to either themselves or people that they work with. It puts the project team in the role of being the heroes. Explained this way, the project is also likely to get a lot of support from other people working to deliver this service, even if they are not part of the project team. This peripheral support is often a big help in “greasing the wheels” to get the project work done.
The key points to keep in mind when explaining the purpose of the project to your team are:
- Explain what the benefit is for the organization and / or customer
- Explain what the benefit is for the team
- Make sure that the message will be easily understood by the person receiving it
This last point is often more difficult than it seems at first glance. As part of your role as a project manager you will need to explain the purpose of the project to many different people: Influential stakeholders, teams of people each of whom have different backgrounds or skills, and the people who will be using the end results. Each of these groups will probably need to have the same basic message explained in a slightly different way.
The effort of explaining the purpose of the project like this pays off by helping to create a highly motivated project team. Having a highly motivated project team reduces the workload on the project manager and dramatically increases the chance that the project will be successful.