We all know the theory – working in a rewarding environment means that people are more motivated and therefore more likely to put their all into delivering your project on time, on budget and to the required scope. That’s great, but what makes an environment rewarding? Here are 12 things to consider about your environment, although I’m sure you can think of more.
Excitement and fun
Is it fun coming to work? If not, why? Rewarding environments tend to be those where people enjoy coming to work. It works both ways – if work is fun, then people find it rewarding, and if people find it rewarding, they enjoy their work and find it fun. Try to think of ways where you can incorporate fun into your project.
Saying thank you
It doesn’t take much to say thank you, but people often forget. Say thank you often to your project team members. It is a cheap way of rewarding them, but more than that, it shows that you really do appreciate their efforts.
On large project or program teams, it can be difficult to know everyone’s name and role, especially if there are a number of experts who have only been brought in for a short period of time for a particular project phase. However, a rewarding environment is one where you do know everyone’s names and the contribution they are making. If you find it hard to remember who does what, keep a list in your project notebook, along with a short description or what they look like, or put together a set of team photos to remind you.
Understanding the benefit
It’s really important for people to know how they fit into the bigger picture and this can make a work environment much more rewarding. Make sure that you explain the goals and objectives of the project and how their work has an impact on achieving those.
In environments where project team members have to wear a uniform, do what you can to make sure it is comfortable. Equally, if you can, introduce a dress down policy on Fridays. Little things like this can make an environment much more manageable and make team members feel as if their supervisors are really trying to make work more rewarding. What one person appreciates is not going to be the same as another, so use a mind mapping tool like iMindQ to capture ideas from your team and then see how many you can jointly put in place.
If it is possible, allow your project team members the option to work from home occasionally. This is not always going to be an option, but again it makes for a more rewarding team situation and work environment if you can instigate some forms of flexible working.
You may not have much influence over this, but it goes without saying that salary is one of the main drivers for many employees. A good salary and benefits package shows people that they are well rewarded and appreciated.
The most rewarding work environments are those where individuals are trusted to get on with the job. There is a big degree of freedom to operate. Obviously, people need to know their boundaries on the project, but if you can allow some degree of autonomy in how tasks are done, your team members will find this much more rewarding.
A good leader
People prefer working in environments where they have confidence in the person in charge. Be that person!
Values and strategy
It is easier to feel as if you are working in a rewarding environment when you feel that there is an overall strategy. The project should have values and aims that fit with corporate strategy. There should also be the attitude that everyone on the project works with integrity. Ideally, longevity should be part of this, but that can be heard to achieve on projects.
Try to create an environment where there is a positive attitude towards feedback. It is good to get feedback, and often project team members don’t know if they are doing a good job because this feedback loop is missing. Make time to provide feedback to your team members.
Clarity of purpose
Similar to the values point above, clarity is important. If you can easily see what you are doing, this makes your work environment more rewarding. If it is hard to work out exactly what you are doing, and you never get a straight answer from your project manager, that makes it much harder to contribute effectively and appreciate your work situation.