CQU Project Management education

Emotional engagement and project success

Project team member engagement measures the level of commitment, involvement, and motivation within a team. Engagement has a strong impact on project performance on key deliverables such as scope, cost, quality, and timeliness. Engaged team members:

  • Know what to do and are able to do it. Teams cannot function effectively if team members lack clarity about what is expected of them. Team members need to know how what they do fits in the overall project and the appropriate tools to do their work.
  • Contribute meaningfully to the project. Engaged team members have the opportunity every day to use their strengths to do what they do best. They also have a project manager who cares about them and who provides coaching and recognition.
  • Work together as a team. Engaged team members are motivated and feel connected to the team’s broader goals. They work together to create high-quality outcomes and develop trusting relationships.
  • Learn and grow. To be engaged, team members need feedback about their progress individually and as a team. They also need opportunities to develop in areas related to their role or in areas that will prepare them for future roles or jobs.

Stakeholder engagement describes the health of internal or external customer relationships. A stakeholder is often thought of as a sponsor, a project manager, an internal or external customer, or a project resource. But a stakeholder can be any person, team, or organisation that has an interest in the successful completion of a project. Consistent with other Gallup findings on customer engagement, engaged stakeholders:

  • Have Confidence that the project team is completely trustworthy and always keeps its promises.
  • Know that the project team stands firmly behind its work and treats its stakeholders fairly and with Integrity.
  • Feel Pride, which reflects the benefits of associating with the project team and its products or services.
  • Have Passion for the project and project team. This is the ultimate expression of a strong emotional bond and reflects the belief that the project and team are a perfect fit for achieving the stakeholders’ goals.

Optimised performance results from managing the engagement of project team members and the engagement of stakeholders. To increase the emotional alignment between teams and stakeholders, organisations should ensure that project team member engagement and stakeholder engagement are consistently monitored and improved using Gallup’s employee and customer engagement measures.

If a team’s engagement score is low on the recognition indicator, for example, then the project manager and team should work together on a plan to increase recognition. If a stakeholder engagement score is low on the Confidence indicator, the team should consult with the stakeholders to identify the cause and devise a plan to regain their trust.

Behaviour based project management

To implement a behaviour based project management approach, Gallup recommends intervention at the organisational, project management office, and project team levels for optimum impact and results. Sustaining improvement in the relationship between team members and stakeholders requires disciplined action at the project team level coupled with an organisation-wide commitment to changing how team members are positioned in roles, how they are rewarded and recognised, and most importantly, how they are managed.

Emotions play an important role in all these interactions, and the emotional engagement of the project team members helps them deliver projects that are on time, within budget, and within scope. Project team member engagement affects how stakeholder requirements are achieved; it also affects the strength of team members’ relationships with each other and with their stakeholders, which in turn stimulates performance.

Historically, businesses have overlooked or ignored these emotional drivers. But that neglect comes at a cost, and it’s reflected in the project team’s performance. Understanding and accepting that people are strongly influenced by emotion can help project managers optimise their teams’ performance. It’s far more effective to fit practices to people, and success is far more likely as a result.

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