Project Management Institute

Positive Reinforcement

We Asked the Project Management Community: How Do You Reward Team Members for Managing Difficult Tasks or Completing Projects?




“We often have a project team lunch while doing the postmortem meeting in a special venue for each of the major milestones achieved. This form of reward also helps create a more engaging environment for getting the right and honest feedback for the postmortem. We also believe that the highest form of praise is a reward that's beneficial to the exposure and career development of the team members. For example, sending the team members to a special conference or training abroad as part of the reward.”

—Marzikmal Omar, PMI-RMP, PMP, head of project management office, Dagang Nexchange Berhad, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


“To give your team members the right reward, first you need to know what drives their respective careers. Each employee in every organization has different goals. For example, in our organization, most team members expect financial rewards, but there are people who prefer to get additional responsibilities and even more complex tasks. This also can lead to their further skill development in order to complete these new tasks. Giving the right rewards sustains their individual performance, and it's also good for the company's overall performance.”

—Stanimir Sotirov, director of operations, Visrez, Dublin, Ireland


“I believe team-level rewards and recognition are more productive than member-specific rewards. Consistent public recognition with rewards helps maintain momentum and motivate the entire team. Cash rewards are good, but with budgets often limited, it's difficult to be consistent across teams. Ultimately, we thrive on challenges— and a sincere pat on the back to keep us moving.”

—Sreekalavally Balasubramaniyan, PMI-ACP, project manager, UST Global Inc., Leeds, England


“Sometimes the simplest reward is the best: When they finish with a crucial task, just walk to their desk, tell them how great they are, explain why their task was important and reiterate how it affected the project on a high level. Explain how they saved a certain amount of money, helped to generate further sales or whatever applies to the given scenario. Instant positive feedback increases performance, and it helps team members feel that they are part of something bigger. Imagine a developer or a tester working five days a week for several months or even a year, seeing only small pieces of the final product. But when the final software goes to production, you see it from a whole different perspective. I find that feeling amazing, and luckily my team does also.”

—Ferenc Csizmás, PMP, project manager, Asia and Pacific region, NNG LLC, Budapest, Hungary


“Praising work is also an opportunity to show team members how their accomplishments connect to their career goals. The best reward I can give to my team members is to take them out for coffee so we can talk about their futures and how they can get there. Some might say that should be covered in the annual performance management process. But the reality is that, for most leaders, those conversations are spliced into packed agendas, feel a bit perfunctory and rarely dig deeply into career ambitions. The ‘tell-me-how-I-can-help-enrich-your-career’ coffee includes gentle but deliberate probing into where team members want to go and why. I advise from the heart, using my own career experience—good and bad—where appropriate. Usually, deeper career desires emerge, as does a heart-to-heart collaboration on expediting their growth into the next role.”

—Dev Ramcharan, PMP, program director, infrastructure security engineering delivery, TD, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Rethinking Rewards

With a focus on retaining top talent, organizations are exploring new ways to recognize strong performance:


Source: Global Talent Trends 2019, Mercer, 2019


What's the biggest challenge you face during agile testing phases? And what steps do you take to anticipate and overcome those obstacles?

Email responses to [email protected] for possible publication in a future issue.

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