Leadership & Team ManagementTopics

How to: Use team building to deliver project results and develop a positive team culture

By 01/03/2017 December 1st, 2021 3 Comments

Developing a positive team culture can be the difference between project failure and success so we’ve pulled together our top 5 team building tips to build your team and deliver project success.

Being a Project Manager is not all about managing deliverables, scope and deadlines and towards successful project completion – it is also about leadership and maintaining a positive team culture and relationships to deliver results.

What does this mean for us as project managers?

[Tweet “Sometimes a simple “thank you” is all that is required. #dpm #projectmanagement”]

We need to let our team members know they are appreciated, which increases their level of engagement. “The number-one reason that most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.” (Gallup, Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, 2001). The same could be said for projects. If team members don’t feel appreciated or valued, they may volunteer themselves for a different project, or worse still, leave the agency.

5 team building tips to build your team and show appreciation

1. Ask how they prefer to be recognized for good work

Not every team member may want to be recognized for producing great results in the same way. Some people prefer not to be the center of attention and would like a more “low-key” celebration while others would rather be thanked publicly. During the beginning of a project or formation of a group, send out a survey with some basic questions such as “How do you prefer to be recognized?” and “What is your favorite candy or place to eat?”.

This kind of information is useful if you wanted to provide a gift card or simply leave a small token of appreciation on their desk. Sometimes a simple “Thank You” is all that is required. If you would like to thank colleagues for a job well done, personalize it to them. They will recognize the effort.

Send thank you notes to develop a positive team culture

Jimmy Fallon sends thank you cards every Friday, do you?

2. Send a note to their manager

Many times during the hectic pace of the work week, it is easy for managers outside of the project to not have a chance to see how their direct reports are doing. A simple way to show appreciation is to send a short note to their manager to indicate that the team member is positively contributing to the success of the project. Include specific examples of their contribution and how you appreciate their efforts. This type of recognition may be stored in their employment file as a positive contribution which could affect future promotions or opportunities for growth.

3. Send a thank you package

A fun way to say “thank you” to a team is to send a fun care package. This works well when you work with distributed or remote teams. Companies such as Amazon offer prepacked snack bundles that can be easily shipped. Be sure to include a personalized thank you message along with the package. Teams will appreciate the gesture.

[Tweet “A fun way to say “thank you” to a team is to send a fun care package #dpm #projectmanager”]

4. Create team awards

One way to create camaraderie among team members is to create awards that can be distributed at key deliverable times or during an end of project ceremony. Awards could be a mix of work-based celebrations such as “Team Player”, “Step Up Awards” or more playful ones such as “Most Likely to Eat the Most Pizza During a Team Lunch”. Team members could vote on awards that they feel best fit their colleagues, which makes the celebration more meaningful.

gif of leonardo dicaprio looking up at an Oscar award

Will your team ever get their well-deserved awards?

5. Provide new challenges and opportunities

As team members want to grow in their careers, they may be looking for additional challenges and opportunities to build on existing skills or want to learn a new skill. Partner with their manager to look for times when you can offer members of the team with additional responsibilities within a project. Engaging and motivating employees by providing new opportunities increases morale and promotes a positive work environment. This also shows others within the company that producing positive team and project results can result in future opportunities.

As Project Manager, you are the leader of a team. You set the stage on the type of culture that you want to infuse into the entire project. Promoting a positive team culture will enable a closer team bond, that encourages teamwork. Collaborative teamwork can ultimately lead to a success project. Start small. Begin by writing a quick note to a manager this week and schedule that each week you recognize the work of a worthy team member. Add budget in your project for team recognition and enlist the help of others to carry out award recognition. Your team will thank you!

What are your team building tips?

Do you have a strong story where you’ve benefited from showing appreciation to your team? What are your team building tips? Share with us your tips for building your team and let us know how you’ve been able to generate a positive team culture in your team.

Learn even more by listening to our podcast: Can Psychology Make You A Better PM?

Lori Schoenhard

Lori Schoenhard

As the Software Development Manager, Lori is responsible for the technical delivery of Proficient Learning’s mobile and web development projects. She manages the entire application life cycle including concept development for new product enhancements; leading technical teams to execute on technical delivery, developing documentation; and implementing user feedback. Lori has over 13 years of experience in digital and software project management, technical account management, business analysis, quality assurance, and software development. Lori is a graduate of Luther College and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in IT Project Management from Boston University. Lori is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and is also a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Product Owner (CSPO) from Scrum Alliance.


  • image Lori says:

    Thank you to The Digital Project Manager for being a fantastic resource! I visit this site on almost a daily basis for inspiration and research on tool to utilize for my projects.

  • image Max Sayer says:

    This was really helpful advice for team building. I know that this is something very important in a work environment. I especially liked the first tip of how do people prefer to be recognized for their good work. I know that this has been overlooked so many times at the places I have worked at.

  • image Proggio says:

    great article. Love the information you shared.

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