Two-Men-Conversing-780x520Ever wonder how to engage and motivate people to deliver on a project, even though they don’t report to you?

This is a challenge we all share — regardless of job title, level or status!

I remember a senior executive asking me, “How did you get everyone to finish this project with such an aggressive deadline? You’re new here, and you don’t even have any employees.”

Honestly, my “secret sauce” wasn’t rocket science. It was simple. Get to know the people you’re working with as much as you can.

I’ve always led large projects and initiatives involving people at all levels of the organization. Some of them worked for me. Most of them didn’t. Many of them worked in our organization.  But others were in different departments. Sometimes spread around the world. Regardless of who they are and where they sit, you need to get to know them.

Here are the top 3 steps you can take:

  • Know their strengths: Ask each person what they are most interested in working on with the context of this project. You can explore this over a cup of coffee or a one-on-one phone call. You can see it on their face (or hear it in their voice) whether they’re genuinely excited about the assignment….or dreading it. If they’re dreading it, and you spot the danger signs right from the start, you need to dig deeper on what they’re feeling.  This deeper insight is important to understand what you’re up against!  (The next steps below may also help here.)
  • Understand their goals: Ask questions to find out how this project supports their goals. Will it position them for a promotion? More responsibility? Will they learn something new as a result of working on this project? When you can draw a connection between the specific assignment and their goals, you increase their motivation to spend time on it. Going a step further, this can help you delegate more effectively going forward. You’ll have a better idea of who really wants to tackle this assignment.
  • Recognize their contribution: Show your appreciation for each person’s contribution. Lots of ways to do this. You can send an email to the person’s manager (along with a cc: to the person) describing the person’s contribution on this project. This is easy to do. You don’t need a budget, a loudspeaker or any confetti. Just draw attention to how this person’s actions had a positive impact on this project.  Studies show that most people fail to take this step so it will set you apart. Another example is a simple “Thank You” note. I once had a participant in a workshop on “Recognition” bring a handwritten note from a project manager from FIVE YEARS prior that he’d kept all along. He proudly read it out loud at the workshop as evidence this simple act has great value. Again, so easy to do. Only takes a few minutes to show someone how they made a meaningful contribution.

If you’re interested in more advice and tips to get your best results and advance your career, be sure to subscribe to my weekly podcast, The Success Talk Show. Click here to listen to the latest episodes.