Category Archives: Project Team

How to Motivate Your Team

Becoming a project manager is a big step from simply working on projects. A PM usually has to juggle many different tasks, deadlines and resources – human resources being just one of these. Rather than simply doing a job to reach a goal, you need to delegate these jobs and motivate others to complete them.

Whilst training in Project Management will teach you processes, and the technical side of things, it’s always important to be aware of the above – that your new status will mean more people management. Taking the time for some specific management training will help you get more out of your team – and ensure the success of your project.  To get you started, here are our tips for motivating your team.


Communication is critical in management – not only with the stakeholders above you, but with your team. To motivate them and ensure their hard work, you need to think about their preferred methods of communication and adapt your own behaviour accordingly. Although they are unlikely to ever realise what you’ve done in this respect, they will be motivated by it!

Be a Good Example

If you set the tone as a good communicator, hard worker, expert in your field and of being fair and just then your employees will respect you. If they lose this respect through any of these channels then they may not feel the drive to work as hard – either consciously or unconsciously.


For those new to project management – or those who have perhaps lost sight of the importance of people management – it may be hard to delegate effectively and relinquish control. People work hard when they are given responsibility that they want to fulfil – so let them have it. It’s not only your job to motivate your team, but it’s not your job to do everything yourself.

Give Them Room to Grow

This may not be possible within smaller projects, but it is in larger ones and when you work with the same team regularly. Make sure you identify those who could be given more responsibility and/or promotions – establishing a culture of progression and growth is key to keeping people motivated.


Fundamental to project management is breaking your main goals into smaller objectives. Make sure your staff are praised and rewarded (the praise can often be enough reward!) at each step of the way. Don’t allow them to doubt their performance if their performance is good.

Pick the Right Team

This should almost go without saying, but it’s the most crucial part of the process. Once you are in the position of choosing the right team for the project, you put responsibility for their performance back on yourself. It’s important, therefore, to think carefully about who is most suitable for the specific project at hand.

You will need to put some thought into who you’ve chosen, how they like to communicate, and what motivates them. You can then choose which of the tips above, and to what extent, will work to motivate different people.

Guest Post was written by: Andy Trainer,  whom works for Silicon Beach Training, leading providers of training in Management, Project Management and more.

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Pledge to be a Project Daymaker

How would you describe to a friend what a typical day in the shoes of a project manager is like?  Is your answer focused around the actual work, such as it is: challenging, stressful, never-ending to-do lists, or more about the people and the opportunities or gifts that you are given as a project manager to work with several different people and achieve great things that could make someone’s day that much brighter by the positive impacts that a project might on them or just having your presence to listen to them about a work related or personal topic?

In reading David Wagner’s book called “Life as a Daymaker,” he coined a term called Daymaking, which is a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place for all.  Of course, anyone and everyone can and should be Daymakers, but being fortunate to be in a role as a project manager, where you have the opportunity to work with so many people in a given day, you just might be the only person that they talk to/see that day, so saying “Hi” or simply expressing a smile on your face can make their day that much brighter in the workplace, which in turn makes your day that much more rewarding and enjoyable.

Below you will find some ideas for making your team members day, which were highlighted in David’s book:

  • Pass around birthday cards, get well cards, and anniversary, so everyone can sign them
  • Take your team members out for lunch on their birthday
  • If you read a good book, bring it in and give it to someone you think would also enjoy it
  • Know their children, spouse, or pet names
  • Write thank you notes when you think they did a good job, a customer complimented the, or they made your day
  • Smile and be happy to see them.  We all feel uplifted by people who like us
  • Bring them coffee, tea, cookies, or some other little treat
  • If someone is swamped with work, offer to pick up some lunch for them
  • If you need to correct any error or behavior, do it in a gentle, kind way that tells them that while they made a mistake, you still like them and believe in them

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

-Norman MacEwan


Team Building in the Desert

In February, I enjoyed a 5-day company retreat in Scottsdale, AZ and one highlight from the trip was our team building in the Arizona Desert.  Would you ever think being in a desert, with your co-workers and their special guest, would be such a neat team building experience?  Well, at first it might not sound that exciting, but if I told you that hummers, a scavenger hunt, and 3 team challenges were involved in this event, it might just change your mind.  Below, is a list of our team building activities that we were tasked with.

Team Challenge #1-Building a Bridge

We had to build a bridge between two platforms to transport your entire team (8-10 people), from one platform to the other with only 4 boards.  You had to pretend there was a valley between the platforms, so the boards could not touch the ground.  The platforms were separated far enough that you could not just use 1 board to cross to the next platform, but rather a combination of a few boards to completely reach the next platform.   The quickest team to complete this challenge wins.

Team Challenge #2-Puzzle Memory

We were given about 10 seconds to look the answer on how to the puzzle should look like in the end.  Then, we were provided the different colored shapes to assemble and match the picture.  If you had to ask to see the solution again, it just meant they would add more time onto your total time.  The quickest team to complete this challenge wins.  Hint: It’s best to break the puzzle solutions into quadrants and assign team members to only focus on their quadrant, so it’s easy to quickly assemble the puzzle.

Team Challenge #3-Scavenger Hunt

Find a list of about 10 different cactuses in the Arizona and take a picture team picture around the cactus displaying a theme, such as risk-taking, teambuilding, customer-first, etc.

Team Challenge #4 – Giant Jenga

Each team member had to take a turn and add an additional 3 levels on top of the Giant Jenga, without the tower falling down, then reassemble the puzzle.  The quickest team to complete this challenge wins.

What Benefits Do Team Building Events Have on an Organization?

  • Ability to bond organization members together both horizontally (between subordinates) and vertically (between managers and subordinates)
  • Helps to learn how each member things and works, such as identifying strengths and weaknesses of its members, and the ways in which the team attempts to carries out its goals
  • Increase team efficiency by strengthening relationships and work habits of your fellow co-workers, with the goal of increasing productivity
  • Helps to build trust between co-workers, which helps to raise employee morale
  • Helps to facilitate more communication between workers and each person’s is able to better understand how each individual job roles all fit together, so better networking paths are formed

What other benefits from team building events can you think of?  Please share your thoughts below in the comment section.  Thank you.  

Click here to enjoy a video from our team building retreat in Arizona.

Happy Team Building! 🙂



John Foley’s High Performance Framework

“What I learned most from being with the Blue Angels has nothing to do with flying itself.  I learned that the process of engaging at this high level, when my very life depended on successful communication, accurate information, trust and follow through, is the same process leaders and successful individuals use to achieve excellence.” – John Foley

Imagine being part of an elite, highly trained team who routinely achieve levels of extreme precision, then asked to improve your performance by 300%.  John had to transition from a Navy carrier pilot to Lead Solo of the Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team and learn to fly a plane at speeds of more than 500 miles per hour & in formations as close as 18 inches from his teammates.  John became one of the top pilots in the world by applying principles that would become the basis for his unique Diamond Performance® Framework.  By using the Blue Angel methodology as a model, he developed a framework for excellence that has informed his life in a profound way and has guided his approach to achievement.

I had the honor to hear John Foley speak at our Peak Performer Event in Arizona this past week for my work and I wanted to share a few highlights from his very inspiring speech.  Each of John’s frameworks below can be implemented in any organization or position, but I wanted to relate these key points in the context of Project Management.

The Diamond Performance® Framework:

  1. High Performance Zone: The gap between your current state and your goals for the future.  By decreasing this gap, you’re in the “High Performance Zone.” What obstacles are preventing you from moving from your current reality towards your stated goals?  As a Project Manager, we often think of ways to take the current state/process and reach towards the highest potential by increasing efficiencies for an organization.  Is time, resources, costs, or something else preventing you from reaching this desired goal?  As a project manager, it is our duty to reach these goals, even though it may take an army to accomplish them, so what can be done to achieve these goals?
  2. Belief Levels: The process of developing a vision for your true potential and deepening the commitment and buy-in to that vision.  Belief Mindset is about the: Process, Product, People, and Purpose that is larger than yourself. What are your Limiting and Liberating Beliefs?  As a Project Manager, do you belief in all that you do in your day-to-day position in managing different projects?  Do you belief in the processes you implement/improve upon, the products/services you support, your project team members, and having a purpose to wake up each more and perform your duties at work for the organization you work at?  
  3. Brief: The practice of creating disciplined standards for preparation and planning through focus, processes, and checklists.  Reflect on each grateful moment that occurred in the past 24 hours and think about what you are about to look forward towards in the next 24 hours.  What are the key disciplines you, or your team, must adhere to as you close performance gaps?  What distractions must be identified and avoided?  As a Project Manager, before you head into work, have thought about the positive things that you have done recently and plan to do?  It’s important to have a positive mindset before walking in the doors to work each morning, as it sets the tone for the day.
  4. Center Point: The alignment of individuals and teams on priorities and a focal point.  Is your Center Point in alignment with your team’s Center Point?  As a Project Manager, are your priorities in alignment with your organization and your team members?  It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page, so everyone is working towards the same goals. 
  5. Contracts: The system of using agreements to build trust in order to achieve greater levels of execution.  Build Trust is broken into 3 parts: Competent, Commitment, and Character. What are key verbal contracts between you, your teammates and clients?  As a Project Manager, it is important to build trust in your project team, so others can rely on you to complete tasks and helps to build a positive reputation.
  6. Debrief: The system for continuous improvement that creates an environment of open and honest communication and reinforces accountability, trust, and teamwork.  Be open, place no blame on others, provides an opportunity to reflect, and causes you to look inward first. Does your team have a commonly understood and adhered to process for creating a safe environment, for capturing critical learning’s, and for celebrating success?  As a Project Manager, I refer to this step as our Lesson’s Learned sessions, as it is so important to do at the end of any project.  This helps you to continue to do what is working well and improve on those items that are not going so well.
  7. Glad to Be Here: The attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness for: being alive, opportunities, and people.  What is it about your organization, its people, and your work opportunities that give you that greatest sense of gratitude?  As a Project Manager, this is a great statement and mindset to have, as not everything is positive in life, but causes you to reflect and remember what is most important.
Are you Glad to Be Here?  Are you going to seize the moment?
John Foley can be contacted at:
Twitter: @johnfoleyinc

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Project MBA

As some of you may know, I have been working on my Master’s in Business Administration Degree at our local University for the past 2 years.  After several group projects, homework, presentations, and exams, this rewarding project came to an end last Saturday, December 10th, by walking across stage at graduation and enjoying a graduation party with family and friends.

Over the course of my time in school, I have met some neat life-long friends and mentors, experienced some interesting project groups & discussions, enjoyed some insightful lectures, developed a great learning toolbox full of helpful techniques and tips, and several great memories.  Since this project’s closure, I have been asked by several individuals, “What’s your next set of goals?”

  • Are you going to get your PhD?
  • Start your own business or become a manager?
  • Travel the world?
  • Teach a college course?
  • Start a family of your own?

Honestly, it is an interesting question to reflect upon before answering, especially when you have completed one project in your live, such as school, for which you have done for a very long time.  Yes, in this case, learning never stops, but maybe sitting in a formal education setting may.

So, what’s next?  Most importantly, I am excited to spend more time with my family and friends and thank them for all of their love and support they have given me, as I could not have completed this accomplishment without them.  I plan to enjoy cooking, baking, go on vacations, relax (if I know what that word means J), but I look forward to what is about to come and is written down in my next chapter in my book of life.  Life is a journey and you don’t know what path you’ll head down, but it’s nice to have an open door of several opportunities before me. 

What is your next project or goals you are reaching for this upcoming New Year?


Planner Skills & Tips

There are several different job positions in the work world that require planning skills outside of project management field, such as financial planners or event planners.  One might describe a planner as one that is:

  • Goal-oriented
  • Always looking ahead/Future
  • Pervasive
  • Organizer
  • Looks for ways to increase efficiency
  • Flexible
  • Creates/follows processes
  • Pays attention to detail

How Does One Become a Better Planner? 

  • Informal Education: Perhaps you read, watch, or learn from other planners on how they execute an event or project and ask questions/take notes
  • Formal Education: Maybe you took a class, such as project management or system analysis & design, where the professor teaches design the current system through diagramming and look for ways to improve the system or even when you work on group projects
  • Experiment: Plan a nice dinner for your family and answer the questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and how you are going to execute this event

Planning Skills Considerations:

I feel planning skills can be used on all different types of projects, but some success factors that can help you are:

  • Have Domain Knowledge: For example, if you are a project manager for a construction project to build a new hospital, you should have a background on how to build a building, knowledge in safety regulations, what are the required needs for a hospital, etc.  You may understand each phase that a project goes through, but having domain knowledge in your specialized area you are managing a project is also important.
  • Have Enough Resources:  Different project sizes can be challenging, as you maybe great at planning a small birthday party by yourself, but planning a party for a community event is a larger task, which requires more resources, time, money, and coordination to plan for.  Ask yourself what resources you have and those you might need to complete the task.
  • Make a Task List: It’s important to make a task list of each step that needs to be completed in order to complete the overall project goal.
  • Triple Constraint: Keep in mind the scope, time, and cost of the project when planning a project.

 What helpful planning tips can you share?  Please comment below, as I would love to read them!

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Learning as the Project Manager

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Raechel from Talking Work asking if I would be interested in being a guest on their show.  I had listened to a few of their shows in the past and was very impressed with the content and guests they have had on their show.  I was quite honored and excited by the invitation, so I wholeheartedly agreed.  Although, I did not know what to expect or what questions I would be asked, I will say it was an absolutely neat experience to be a guest on their show and share what we all have in common, which is work.  Below, you will find one of the questions I was asked, but please feel free to listen to the entire showThank you Ty and Raechel for the honor & opportunity to be a guest on your show, I really appreciate it! 

When Team Members Have More Experience Than The Project Manager, is That a Positive or Negative Thing? How Do/Can They Help You Make Better Decisions?

I think it can be both a positive opportunity and also a challenge. I am the type of person that absolutely enjoys learning from and working with others, as it provides an opportunity to:

  • Gain tribal knowledge from these experienced professionals in the organization
  • Discover new ideas & tricks
  • Have a great resource or mentor to bounce ideas off of
  • Know whom to contact if you run into an issue

I find learning from others is similar to learning about history in school, as you want to learn about what has happened in the past to help prevent mistakes in the future.  I also feel that by taking time to listen to others and learn from them, it helps you to grow more on a professional level, become more informed, and show others that you value their input and help.  Of course, we are not experts on everything, so it’s nice to have the support of others to help you throughout the entire process of a project.

On the other hand, it can be challenging if you may run into a situation where it feels like there are too many Chiefs, but not enough Indians.  If you are new to a company or just started a new career path, others may question or test you to see if you are capable of doing that job in the organization.  Of course this makes doing your job a little more challenging at times, but we all started at the bottom at some point or switch to work at a new business, so it takes time to learn from others and more about the organization, so others feel that you are on the same playing field.  It’s always good to setup side meetings with others to better understand what role they play in the organization and show others you appreciate learning from others that will best benefit both parties.

Please comment below with your thoughts and comments, as I would love to hear them!

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