Do what you love

Constructing a project resource plan is an opportunity to match up people with work they love. Chances are we haven’t seen the work of project management in this light. I know I didn’t when I was actively managing projects.

How can we make the work of projects more rewarding for everyone involved? Building out the work breakdown structure provides an opportunity for everyone to see all the project deliverables and begins to illustrate dependencies across work efforts. It’s when we take each of the deliverables and break those deliverables down into work activities that we get to the meat of engaging in meaningful work.

Some activities are best executed by individuals, others by teams. When was the last project you led where people were given a choice as to when and how they would work as a team? What about feedback? Do team members get an opportunity to shape the procedures used to gather, analyze and incorporate feedback into their work product?

Team members differ in their desire to create processes. You will find some people prefer to follow a pre-described procedure. They take comfort in having a path to take and sticking to that path. Other team members may find it stifling to be required to follow a procedure, preferring to take cues from the evolving situation to adapt their data gathering and analysis to each, unique situation. This “bespoke” approach may be deeply satisfying to the individual. Is it beneficial to the project and its stakeholders? Will this tailored approach produce unintended impacts on future efforts or other projects?

If your organization values consistency across projects, having a team member that strays from the established path (not using Organizational Process Assets in PMP jargon) will cause friction both for the team member and the project overall.

Activity attributes, the conditions under which the work is executed, can help make staffing decisions better matched to personal preferences. Consider the visibility of the work. Do you have team members that want to be noticed as future leaders? How can the work you assign them meet this need? What if the team member wants to get the work done with a minimum of attention? They want to simply do the work and get home on time. How can you help them make that happen?

A good friend of mine, Doug Hensch, managed a team of training developers at Nextel. He started his assignment by meeting with each of the developers he supported at a time the developer selected. The meetings lasted between 90 minutes and two hours. Additional time was scheduled, if requested by the developers. Several people did ask for more time to discuss Doug’s questions with him. The questions Doug asked his team were simple:

  • What do you want from me as your manager?
  • What would make this next project great for you?

Two questions. That’s it.

What have you found effective in matching people with work that they love? I’d love to learn from you.

All the best,


About Gordon Young

Need 10's of millions? Start here. Keynote speaker, coach and instructor. I help companies tap into the creativity and energy of their teams resulting in profit, engagement and well-being.
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