January 18, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Words of Appreciation – 3 Reasons why they are not used

By Dr Paul White

It is good to be reminded of the importance of communicating appreciation to staff and team members. When employees/team members truly feel valued and appreciated, good things follow. This article will explain what the benefits are and why more people are not using words of appreciation.

language of appreciationThe power of appreciation lies in the fact that people are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and get more work done. Their job satisfaction ratings go up, and their employee engagement increases. Also, when staff/team members feel appreciated, customer ratings tend to rise, and the managers who are giving appreciation, report enjoying their work more.

So if all these positive results occur, why isn’t appreciation communicated more? And what should we do about it?

1.     Manager are too busy

Managers and employees report that they are too busy. Virtually everyone states they already have too much to do, and don’t have any time (or mental space) to think about another set of tasks. Busyness is, far and above all other reasons, the primary reason people cite for not communicating appreciation.

How to resolve

Don’t create another “to do” list – you don’t need more to do. Rather, make sure that the efforts and actions you take “hit the mark”. Realize that not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways; find out what is meaningful to your team members and communicate appreciation through these actions. Yes, this does take time, but it is a worthy investment.

2.     Not compatible with work

To many, showing appreciation is not compatible with the nature of work and work-relationships. Work, by definition, is focused on getting tasks done. Companies either manufacture and sell goods, or they provide services. So this is focus of every employee’s day.

How to resolve

There has to be a balance of working together with others as people (employees are not just “production units” or machines) and getting the work done. Most companies have employee recognition programs but it has become evident that they aren’t working to make employees feel valued. Team members will feel valued when appreciation is communicated regularly, personally and in a manner that is perceived as genuine and authentic.

3.     People don’t value you

Some people don’t think appreciation should be communicated, or they really don’t value those with whom they work. When leaders don’t really value recognizing or encouraging their employees (the “I show them I appreciate them by paying them” approach), there is not much to do except to let them experience the results of their choices. Typically, these leaders have the highest turnover rate and lowest job satisfaction ratings by their staff.

How to resolve

There are times when some colleagues are difficult to work with, or people just don’t get along very well. And it best not to try to “fake” communicating appreciation when it isn’t really there.

Most often, actually, it is not that appreciation isn’t communicated but that it isn’t communicated in the ways important to the recipient – which is practically the same as not being communicated at all.

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About the author:  Paul White, Ph.D., is co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and creator of the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory, which identifies individuals’ preferred ways of being shown appreciation. To learn more, visit www.appreciationatwork.com


To know more about the 5 Languages of appreciation, read the previous article: Project Management Skills: Languages of Appreciation

5 Essential Practices for Explaining Projects to Stakeholder

By Guest Author: Jo Ann Sweeney

Are you frustrated you’re no longer getting the support from stakeholders that you need for your project to succeed? And you have difficulty in explaining your projects properly?

Perhaps you have hit resistance to the changes. Maybe you are working on a multi-site, multi-country or long-term project and, midway through, you’re struggling to keep key people interested and involved.

The fact is, keeping sponsors, senior executives and end users involved for the duration of our projects takes effort – experience also helps!

Over many years as a communications consultant working on complex and multi-site projects, no matter the size of your team or budget, I have learnt key lessons in winning stakeholder support.

Here are 5 essential practices for explaining projects:

1.      Simple and practical

When it comes to planning the communication aspects of any project, the simpler the plan, the more effective it is. It can be as simple as a bulleted list of things to do and key messages we wish to get across.

However, more useful is a communication framework that clarifies:

  • The objectives for communications activities
  • A prioritised list of key audiences
  • Which communications channels to use
  • A calendar of activities
  • Monitoring mechanisms
  • Who is responsible for delivery.

One of the biggest benefits of a simple structure is that we spend less time planning and have more time for managing each of the activities.

2.      Understand their perspectives

Project communication is about more than project updates. People want to be personally involved; they want content that relates to them and that they can relate to. This means tailoring content to their needs rather than presenting it from the project team’s perspective.

Here are some guidelines to tailor the content:

  • Understand who they are –  the obvious plus what they think and feel
  • Uncover what they are interested in – usually what their performance pay is based on
  • Relate to their view of the world – are they thinkers, people-focused, or action-oriented
  • Identify shadow issues – unacknowledged attitudes and behaviours that impact their support
  • Balance their needs – sponsors, senior execs and end users have different needs.

3.      Clear aims

There are four over-arching reasons for telling people about your project:

  • Knowledge – you want them to know more than they currently do
  • Attitude – you want them to feel more positive than they do
  • Support – you want them to say positive things about your project in public
  • Involvement – you want them to get involved in some way.

These reasons form a spectrum with ‘knows nothing’ at one end and ‘fully involved’ at the other. If you want an individual or audience grouping to be fully involved then you will need to move them along the spectrum using communication activities that build on each other.

Using this spectrum we turn communications activities into a stepped process based on business objectives. It ensures activities are linked to business need and the project’s core aims.

4.      Flexible schedule of activities

When we use a flexible schedule to manage communication activities we are able to respond to unexpected issues and to changes we aren’t able to predict.

A schedule is just a framework to show clearly what is going to happen and when; it can be complex and difficult to update or flexible and easy to change.

Being flexible means we can change any of the components – deadlines, audiences, delivery channels, responsibilities, monitoring – as and when we want without causing extra work or problems in other work streams.

5.      Take audiences on a journey

Communicating projects is all about taking our audiences on a journey from where they are now to where we want them to be.

We plot where each of our audiences is now in terms of familiarity and favourability; and where we want them to be. Then we map a journey that will help them to get there.

By following these essentials on your projects, you will win stakeholder support that will help your project to succeed.


Jo Ann Sweeney is a communications consultant and mentor who helps project managers win the support of their sponsors, senior executives and end users.

She has launched the brand new Communicating Projects MasterClasses starting in September 2011 to help teams present their projects so audiences listen and understand. For full details, visit: http://www.sweeneycomms.com/communicating-projects

7 Steps to Becoming a Better Project Manager: Part 2

This is Part 2 of the series on: The 7 Steps to become a better Project Manager. Please read Part 1 before you read the remaining steps to help you be more successful as a project manager.

4.      Create a Project Plan

This refers to the Project Management Plan, and subsidiary plans, such as those for resources (project organisation), risk management, communications, cost, change management. etc.  It goes without saying that detailed work is required for estimates, budgets, schedules, quality and so forth.

5.      Execute the Project Plan

Once the plan is created and a baseline agreed upon, execute the plan. During the execution, measuring and controlling against the plan should be taking place. In my experience, I have found that weekly feedback and controlling against the plan work best. At your weekly meetings allow the team members to provide feedback about work done in the last week and agree on the work that should be done for the next week or two. Always make sure that they know what the due date for the next milestone is.

As a project manager you should always expect change and plan for change. Embrace change requests as long as they are shown to add value, and track them against the agreed baseline.

6.      Identify and manage Risks and Issues

A risk is an event that has the potential of impacting your project, either positively or negatively. An issue is something material that has occurred and must be handled. (An issue is sometimes referred to as a risk whose time has come) Each project will have unique risks (positive ones may be termed “opportunities”). Risks and issues should be recorded and strategies for them agreed upon and tracked. They should be actively and regularly discussed within the project team.  Done well, risks and issues management can aid a project manager enormously.

7.      Project communication as the golden thread

Communication is at the heart of all your activities as a project manager. Whether you are tracking risks and issues, creating your plan and its detailed sub-elements, reporting progress or running a governance group or anything else, your ability to communicate effectively with people at particular points in time is vital to your success. “One size does not fit all” is a useful maxim to consider for communication. It is a blend of art and science, and getting it right will play a large part in your success.

These are the seven steps that, if done well, can positively influence a project’s success. The steps are not all that is required, but mainly a focus on some key areas to keep an eye while managing your projects.

For more information about project management best practices, please also look at the following project management articles covering topics like Project communications management, stakeholder management, project closure and many more:

Project Management topics (please leave comments and let me know what you think)

About the author: Linky Van Der Merwe is a Project Management Consultant and an IT Project Manager with 16 years IT industry experience and 12 years Project Management experience.

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