The Happy Project: How is happiness factored into project plans?

Business projects are recognised for reaching their goals, being on time and on budget are two major factors that mark a project out as successful. This type of outcome is what is valued by customers, end users and stakeholders and whilst many training courses for PMs tells us successful project is undoubtedly a great source of pride to any project team, happiness is becoming a factor that is also considered to be important.

In recent years studies have shown that when people are happy, they are more productive. In general, when people are more productive this can mean a more positive attitude that lends itself well to the successful completion of a project. This success in a project matters more to each and every team member on a personal front when they are actually happy about their work, rather than just seeing it as a job.

Happiness is not a frivolous goal

It could be argued that striving for happiness in the workplace is a rather frivolous goal and that efforts are better focused elsewhere. This is simply not the case. A project team who are unhappy are in fact a liability to the project, introducing more risks that will need to be dealt with by the project manager. Training for PMs tells us it is important to consider how you can keep your team happy, and also to spot when someone is struggling, whilst you might be managing the project you are also managing the team and they are a vital component in overall success.

The field of research into happiness in the workplace is not particularly huge. However there is plenty of research that has been conducted into what makes people happy. Happiness has been defined by people all over the world in much the same way, caring, freedom, honesty, health and then income. So happiness isn’t down to one single factor and income, something many people believe is very important – that is an income that allows a person to not just live but thrive – isn’t right at the top of the list for happiness.

How can these be used in project management?

When it comes to caring a project manager can ensure that the tasks for the project are given out in a way that matches them best to the skills the team have, and their experience rather than handing out tasks to people who might struggle with a particular area. Having an informal chat with team members to make sure they know there is someone there for any issues can also help.

Trusting team members to get on with the work they have been given and not micromanaging whilst ensuring they know they can bring issues to you will give them the freedom to get on without feeling someone is looking over their shoulder. This trust can also extend to allowing team members to take appropriate breaks without checking up on them and trusting them to complete the work appropriately. This will help with basic health requirements.

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