Hero projects… and the rest of the team

All teams have a couple of projects that get all the attention and focus; make sure everyone else feels like a hero as well

The Google employees that worked on Maps, Android and Gmail probably feel like superstars. The software they wrote is used by hundreds of millions, has achieved cult-like status and set entirely new standards for software. The Google search developers created a page that attracts nearly 10% of all internet traffic. [1st of 5 paragraphs]

Every company has it’s rock star projects – the game changers that put it definitively ahead of the competition and in some cases redefine their entire industry. Motivating an over-achieving workforce is easy, but what about those projects and teams that don’t see the limelight. This is the leader’s job – balance the outlying success of a few with the contribution of the many. [2/5]

Most importantly, just thank people regularly and meaningfully; I’ve written aboutgood communication practices and channels to engage people. Get these principles right and then use them to show appreciation for teams and individuals. Do it 1:1, in a group or via short message, email or thank you card – I always underestimate how much this means to people. [3/5]

Explain that it is important to have high flying teams and projects – a rising tide lifts all boats. People may feel envious of other team’s success and attention but if they understand (and can see) how it reflects well on everyone then it is easier. Don’t be apologetic or dilute the other team’s success – create a healthy aspiration for people to work harder and make their own projects a similar success. [4/5]

However, some projects just won’t be successful and tough choices might be required. Stop projects that aren’t going anywhere or won’t generate significant business value – look after people through this process and they will respect your decisive leadership. Even Google cancels loads of projects that become major flops, see 15 of them here; a projects graveyard is ok, a discouraged workforce is not. [5/5]

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