“Tiger By The Tail” – Commitment

The Holy Grail: A fully committed Project Team, working towards the overall success of the Project! Such a scenario gives the Project the best chance at achieving Success.

Please note that completing a Project does not equal Success. In my opinion, a Project is successful only if the Project Execution was such that it maximized the potential and capabilities of the Team Members, and met all the criteria set forth for that Project (I.e. Budget, Schedule, Features etc.). It is no secret that a fully committed team can do wonders for a Project. What then instills the Commitment?

During my Career, I have noticed several methods Organizations use to get Commitment.

Note: Commitment is to a Project Team, what Spinach is to Popeye The Sailor.

Fear

Hah! A method used extensively during times of Economic Crisis. With Companies shutting down, Projects getting cancelled and Employees getting laid off, it does not take a Motivational Guru to get a team to show Commitment. I am doubtful whether it is an effective long-term Commitment-creating strategy, though. After all, no self-respecting and qualified Engineer is going to submit himself to it for a long term. But having said that, this method is quite widely employed. “If we do not get the purchase order for ProjectA …”, “If we do not hit DeadlineA …”. Note that the fear of failure is inbuilt in all of us and this fear spurs us to try and achieve our best. When I refer to “long term” above, I am referring to the pressures added on top of this inherent fear.

Incentives

Incentives, as a motivation, works very well with Commission-based jobs like Sales for example. The chance for more Commision and more Bonus helps the Employees to try their very best. Showing appreciation by rewarding successful Project Teams helps motivate them. It appears that there is a lot of research to prove that there is no direct link between “Happiness at a Job” and “Compensation”. While that may be true, I am yet to see a team get Inspired, Motivated and Committed, when they are told that “After this project, most probably you will get zero Bonus and your Salaries will remain same (or may go down)”.

Interesting Work

Who would not like to work on a “Cool Project”? The chance to develop an innovative product is something a lot of Engineers would jump at. I have come across many people who do what they do, because they love what that job allows them to work on. More than Monetary benefits, the goal in such a case is to attain that professional satisfaction of having done something never (or rarely) done before.

Inspirational Leaders

There are leaders who have the gift of being able to inspire people to achieve great things. (World has seen quite a few Leaders of this sort, some of them quite notorious). I have had the good fortune to work under some Engineering Leaders of this category during my Career. Such leaders are able to make a routine “Engineering Project” sound like a “Noble fight against the Aliens, a.k.a “Independence Day””.

Positive Team Dynamics

A Team which consists of confident and competent Team Members, who respect each other and work positively with each other, creates Commitment almost as if by magic. No one wants to disappoint anyone else and the general positive environment helps keep the Team focussed on the job at hand.

Pride

All Engineers want to be associated with successful projects. There is a sense of pride in a job well done and I have seen Engineers showing a lot of Commitment in trying to attain that feeling.

Whichever method is employed, if the Project Team lacks Commitment, one does not need to be a Nostradamus to predict the ending of that Project’s story.

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