Project Management Institute

More than money

in a busy project environment, phrases like 'thank you' and 'terrific work' can motivate


In a busy project environment, phrases like ‘thank you’ and ‘terrific work’ can motivate.


I recently had a conversation where I was told, “You're paid for your work, so you shouldn't expect any other acknowledgement.” I strongly disagree.

Project managers rarely have the opportunity to influence or drive salaries and reimbursements. So we have to find other currency with which to acknowledge stakeholder efforts and commitment.

For example, a recent project deployment required weekend work. I planned ahead to ensure my colleagues had time off before the weekend work. During the working weekend, I bought lunch and supplies to sustain everyone. For stakeholders who participated, I made a point of calling their managers or, where possible, meeting in person to ensure that they were aware of the efforts of often-unsung individuals.

There are daily behaviors that can show appreciation too. Some of us take time to know our security staff by name and greet them when entering and leaving the office. Others bake, bring snacks or offer a round of drinks (in a café or bar, depending on preferences). Another colleague sometimes brings sweets and chocolates as a way of saying happy weekday (regardless of the day it happens to be). The impact on those around him is delightful: They begin by asking what the occasion is, then venture tentatively to accept a morsel and ultimately beam at the sharing of a treat.

Once we're established in roles, organizations and work environments, the salary earned becomes a regular part of life. But we're human, and for many of us acknowledgement and appreciation make our work more meaningful and rewarding.

Recently, I was touched to receive a card from a brilliant development team based offshore. It simply offered thanks for quality communications and interactions, and the opportunity to work together and achieve outstanding results during 2015. I hadn't been aware of the difference it made to them that I acknowledged emails, thanked them and recognized ideas and contributions.

That gesture sustained me through the subsequent two weeks of high stress and intense workload. Every time I returned home, I'd see the card and smile anew. I view it as a reward to remain worthy of.

In a busy and demanding environment, it's very easy to focus on task activity and completion. But remember to recognize opportunities to be gracious. Here are a few examples:

  • Be thankful when a colleague offers assistance.
  • Acknowledge when a suggestion offers a solution.
  • Celebrate the attainment of a learning goal.
  • Open doors and appreciate those who reciprocate (and refrain from growling at those who don't!).

We may not influence or drive financial factors, but there are other payments of time, kindness, courtesy and appreciation that also require deposits.


The bottom line in all of this is that we may not influence or drive financial factors, but there are other payments of time, kindness, courtesy and appreciation that also require deposits. There is always time to write a brief email or note to acknowledge contributions and effort.

Through these acts of humanity and humility, we remember how to work well with others, regardless of origin, location and responsibilities. How many gratitude rewards can you give to colleagues each week? PM

img Sheilina Somani, RPP, FAPM, PMP, is the owner of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project Management, a senior project manager, a speaker and a mentor.
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