If I was to ask you right now, “What is the status of your project?” or “How is the set up of your project management office going?”, how would you respond?

Take a moment to think what are your first thoughts?

I would imagine that for the vast majority of you, the first thoughts are along the lines of:

  • Late delivery of items.
  • The sponsor who has not approved the budget.
  • Senior management taking time to make decisions.
  • The defects that are preventing implementation.

The list goes on and on and what is common is that they are all items that reflect the challenges to progress.

As project or PMO professionals, and even wider in our general day to day life’s, the natural response to a question is to focus on what is nor going well.  This feels to be even more pertinent to when managing change.

The response is rationale as a big part of a project manager’s role is to manage risk so as to give the best chance to mitigate the impact.  However, the consequence is to naturally focus on what is not going well.

Now let me ask you a different question, “what is going well on the project?” and “what has been achieved in the last 1, 3, 6 or 12 months?”.

Again take a moment to think and reflect on your project or PMO.

I anticipate that a number of thoughts have come into your mind where you have achieved significant milestones.

  • Implemented a new platform
  • Implemented a PMO
  • Launched a new product or service

The “big ticket” milestones are easy to remember.  But what about where you have a multi year project?  It is easy to have the mind set that nothing has been achieved………STOP!

Projects and PMO set-up come in many phases.

  • Requirement / scope sign-off
  • Define scope / vision
  • Budget approval
  • Recruiting / building team
  • Tactical deliveries

I am confident that there is quite a list of all of the achievements and that when you reflect, you have actual made a lot of progress.

Why is this important?

There are a number of reasons why this is important:

  1. Projects are Demanding.  They can take a lot of physical, mental and emotional energy.  When a project team is working at full capacity for extended periods and dealing with daily challenges, it can be very demotivating.  Achievements on the journey will help lift the team and give them renewed energy for the next goal.
  2. Demonstrate Progress.  Linked to the point above, at times it may feel to the project team, and stakeholders, that no progress is being made as all everyone is focused and talking about are the challenges.  Talking and getting the team to spend time focusing on the achievements will help balance this and again will help lift spirits.
  3. Continued Support.  Projects are an investment of scarce resource.  Therefore, to help ensure that there is continued sponsorship and support (aka budget), you must remember to be “selling” what is being achieved and remind the sponsor of the outcome they will get and that you are making progress against this.  Don’t be too “salsey” or “lie”.  However, it is also important not to “under sell” the progress.

Take Action

Here are some simple ideas of how you can celebrate success on an ongoing basis:

  • Spend time in team meetings talking about what has been achieved and why it is important.
  • Send out communications where there are more significant achievements so that stakeholders are aware of progress and, the project team are recognised for their effort.
  • Make sure that you recognise individual contributions in your 1:1 meetings with team members.
  • Organise “night out’s” and celebration events for the really big milestones.
  • Help the team to talk in both the positives and challenges.  Get everyone in the habit of talking this way as this will ensure positive messages are being sent at all levels.

IMPORTANT: make sure that all of this done in a genuine way otherwise the result will be to deflate the team even further.


Some of you may consider this as a “soft skill”.  However, I cannot stress enough how important it can be and the difference it will make in developing a high performing team.

Like with many items in project management it is good to plan ahead.  Therefore, to compliment this article take a look at the article on “What does your PMO end of year report look like?“.  This provides some good ideas on how preparing end of year reports can help promote what you have achieved.