Paving the Way for Team Success – Small Things Make a Big Difference


It can sometimes be hard to know how to be an outstanding Project Manager.

There are excellent books and guides explaining what you’re supposed to do.

But you want to know if there are other things you may be missing that will help you win your team over as an excellent project manager.

You want your team to trust you, and to know that you’re there to help them succeed.

But how can you go the extra step to help ensure team success?


Project Manager Responsibilities

In my post Project Manager Roles and Responsibilities: What Does a PM Really Do, I list twenty-two activities that a project manager does in her role.

This is a clear list of standard activities the team looks to the project manager to carry out in her position.

But there are many ways that a project manager can serve the team that aren’t clearly specified.

By paying attention and finding ways to provide additional support, you can go above and beyond to make life even easier for your team.


Small Things Make a Big Difference in Team Support

When leading your team, you want to ensure success. As the project manager, you’ll handle clearly identified activities such as identifying scope, creating a schedule, and handling the project budget, along with many other clearly specified activities.

However, there are other ways you can help the team be successful.

These are things that may not go on a RASCI diagram or be clearly laid out.

And your team may not even be aware of them many times.

But these small actions can pave the way for your team to operate more smoothly.

It’s often little, unanticipated things that can slow the team down. Consider what these might be so you can address them in advance.

small things big difference

Consider the story of the lion and the mouse. A tiny splinter of wood brought the lion to his knees.

The splinter was a tiny thing that caused a great deal of pain. Be proactive and identify what those splinters may be so that you can address them in advance.


Examples of Small Things that Help

Here are a few examples for inspiration and things you might do:

  • One of my co-workers keeps extension cords and extra laptop adapters so we always have them handy. There have been times we’ve gotten to a conference room and found that an electrical outlet wasn’t easily accessible for laptops or projectors. Being able to quickly grab an extension cord meant we could move forward as planned.
  • Another co-worker keeps a set of whiteboard markers. If we go to a conference room with no markers, he has a set we can easily use to keep moving forward.
  • In a previous company, in addition to creating formal project schedules, I kept a whiteboard outside my cubicle. On my whiteboard, I put high-level milestones so team members could see at-a-glance what was coming up in the next few weeks. We had a team that delivered final components in onboarding customers to new services. They soon began stopping by my desk regularly to check the dates of upcoming installations. When I left the company, they asked who would keep the dates in front of them going forward. They’d begun to rely on this small additional way I supported them in making their work easier.



Pay Attention To Your Team For Clues

Pay attention to your team for clues to small ways you can support them. Listen to what they complain about or clues they give for ways you can make

their work easier.

One of my co-workers refers to this as removing sand from the gears so the machine runs more smoothly.

Many of your teammates may not initially notice the small ways you support them in addition to the larger ways. But over time they will.

 [bctt tweet=”Pay attention to your team for clues to small ways you can support them. Listen to what they complain about or clues they give for ways you can make their work easier.” username=”leighespy”]


Unexpected Benefits

In addition to helping the team succeed with these supportive behaviors, you’ll likely be helping yourself at the same time.

Research shows that helping others can boost your sense of well-being and is “associated with higher levels of daily positive emotion and better overall mental health.”

Improving your mental health with these small acts of support can, in turn, give you even more stamina and emotional reserve to be a better support for your team.

Removing bumps along the path means there are fewer things for your team to stress about.

And that, in turn, can make day-to-day work easier.

Now you tell me (and other readers) in the comments below what small things you’ve done or seen that make a big difference in team success?


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