Momentum is one of the most natural powerful forces in the world. Having it can spell the difference between succeeding or failing in projects that you’re working on. With momentum you have you extra sharpness, determination, and willpower. It’s literally like going “super mode” (Super Saiyan for DBZ-Anime fans). The biggest benefit with having momentum is that usually when you win, you win big.
The real value of momentum though is found not in the individual but in collective situations. Being able to instill and build a culture of momentum in your team will lead to better productivity, morale, and creativity. Unfortunately most managers and leaders take it for granted. They don’t have a strategic approach to building it and harnessing it.
Here are some tips on how to do that:
1. Express Appreciation for your Team
I have a tendency of looking situations like a game. When it comes to the workplace I sort of have this visual “Happiness Bar” in my head when I look at the team. The higher the bar is, the more productive and creative they are. The higher the level the faster and better we can tackle problems and execute projects. Compliments will help build that bar up.
The only bad kind of compliment is the one that’s never said. If someone does a good job, praise them for it. If you’re going to do it via e-mail, don’t just say “good job”. List down why you think that person did well so he or she can keep on doing that. If you’re going to do it personally, throw in a big smile or a tap on the back.
Note that you have to be sincere when you do this. If you’re not, it will show and it will just backfire.
2. Get them involved and make them own it
One of the best ways to build momentum quickly is to make your team know and feel that they own the project. There’s some sort of art in doing this. Personally the best way I know how to do it is to involve the team as early as the brainstorming stage. It’s also not enough that they’re in the room when you do the session, you have to learn how to draw out the ideas they have in them and you have to create an atmosphere where all ideas, regardless if they’re bad or good, are welcome.
Let them say it then acknowledge it and build on that so that they will own it.
3. Celebrate accomplishments and milestones
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last few years is that you need to take quick breaks and recognize small triumphs. This is critical because those little celebrations put it a lot of “points” into that happiness bar.
Celebrations don’t always have to be big or with the whole team. Sometimes you can bring a few members of your team out, treat them to lunch, and just thank them for their efforts.
4. Learn to manage healthy conflict
A fake atmosphere of happiness is not productive and it doesn’t necessarily build momentum. If someone screws up, don’t let it pass without communicating with them. Always remember that a constructive rebuke is just as important as a gracious compliment.
The hard part in conflict though is in group scenarios. You need to be able to learn and teach your team how to manage conflict so that what is work doesn’t become too personal.
Keep doing it until it becomes culture
The reality with creating a culture is that there’s no way to do it overnight, especially if there’s a lot of unlearning you have to do (existing team with bad habits, that’s for a different post though). Over time your team will build chemistry, the culture will be established, and hopefully newcomers will pick it up and get in line.