Success is sweet, but not when a project leader grabs all the credit.
“Recognition and reward are basic tools needed by every IT leader and failing to recognize all project team members lets down the team and the entire organization. “It’s every CIO’s job to ensure that the people component of the enterprise is operating effectively,” says Michael Cantor, CIO of hardware maintenance and managed services provider Park Place Technologies. “Failing to share credit demoralizes employees and makes them less likely to assist effectively on the next IT project.”
Sharing credit is an entirely painless way to motivate teams and boost staff morale. “Especially in a time when users are physically distanced or feeling burned out, receiving credit can go a long way,” says Liz Beavers, head geek at IT and network management software provider SolarWinds. “When you think about projects involving multiple people, [recognition] can help incite collaboration and communication, bringing people together as they share a common goal.” Receiving kudos from an IT leader can also help reaffirm participants’ interest in technology by highlighting the skills they’ve worked so hard to build.
Successful projects are always team efforts and all team members should be appropriately lauded for each one’s respective contribution, notes Rich Temple, vice president and CIO at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center. “It’s the professional and respectful thing to do,” he says. “Team members appreciate it and are more likely to want to collaborate with the IT leader and give their all on future projects when they are properly recognized for their efforts.”
Credit-sharing also builds an increased sense of what it means to be a team member. Acknowledgment during online and on-site meetings, public conferences, and other events makes teams, and individual participants feel as though they contributed to the project’s successful outcome, Temple observes. “Feeling appreciated is one of the key satisfiers for workers, in many cases even more than money,” he says. “If people feel as though they’ve gone the extra yard for someone, and that person didn’t have the courtesy to properly acknowledge their efforts … it is very demoralizing.”
As project milestones are successfully passed, credit sharing encourages team members to fully participate in current tasks and prepare to meet upcoming milestones. “It’s [also] helping future project teams on the next engagement,” Cantor says.
Sharing credit is also an effective way for IT executives to demonstrate governance and direction. “Acknowledging the contribution of others is a key trait of good leadership,” says Eric McGee, senior network engineer at TRGDatacenters. “The team is more likely to be responsive to this type of leadership.” A leader-responsive team generally creates a positive, highly functional culture in which members work together efficiently and productively.
When leaders acknowledge accomplishments, it makes the boss more of a colleague than a superior. “If you go above and beyond your line of work, and work hard to get the job done, you’ll get noticed for it,” Beavers says. “As leaders recognize their counterparts’ contributions, it makes them more approachable and adds to an innate sense of “the team”.
Management colleagues also tend to appreciate someone who isn’t afraid to share credit. An IT leader who’s managing a team will always be recognized for delivering a project that’s complete and on time. “There’s no need to take credit beyond assembling the best team possible and delivering the project,” Cantor says. “This shows that the IT leader is delegating responsibility, which is a key to a successful IT career.”
On the other hand, failing to raise the next set of leaders while neglecting accountability is not a positive career step. Everyone prefers to work with someone who recognizes their achievements, Cantor says. “Failing to do so is not going to advance a leader’s reputation.”
People will want to work with someone who acknowledges their efforts and possesses some personal humility, Temple notes. “Word travels fast about IT leaders who are credit-stealers, but just as fast about those leaders who are inspiring to work for.”
There’s little downside to sharing credit, but a key point is recognizing the right people and getting feedback from the entire project team. “The team knows very well who is a key contributor to the project,” Cantor explains. “Recognizing someone who didn’t participate much lowers the value of any overall recognition.”
The art of sharing credit is an important component in successful collaboration and project success. Although an IT leader generally spearheads a project — whether it’s selecting and implementing a new technology or identifying a need to restructure a process — team members are ultimately responsible for researching and executing deliverables, Beavers notes. “Success at large is the culmination of multiple users working together,” she observes.