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Pushing the PMBOK® Guide to Include Acknowledgment

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On page 229 of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)--Fourth Edition, under "Project Human Resource Management," I'm happy to see the following:

"Project managers should continually motivate their team by providing challenges and opportunities, by providing timely feedback and support as needed, and by recognizing and rewarding good performance."

I salute and encourage this. Yet I would advocate taking this statement one step further. Teamwork is based on validating all members for their contributions and making sure they feel valued.

Rewards and recognition let people feel special and know that what they do is appreciated. Acknowledgment, however, goes right to the heart. It lets people know that they make a difference, that the success of a project would not be as great without them.

A heartfelt and authentic acknowledgment can be spontaneous or it can be planned. Send an e-mail to a team member's manager about what a great job the person is doing -- and copy that person on the message. Or just look the person in the eye and tell them how much you value his or her continuous contribution.

If you feel moved when you do it and see the person light up as you communicate, you'll know you're on the right track. You don't need to order a plaque or buy a gift card when you're overcome with gratitude to have that person on your team. Just let them know -- from your heart, in a truthful way -- and the impact will be phenomenal. They won't be able to do enough to make the project a success!

So, in the PMBOK® Guide--Fifth Edition, I hope to see a reference to the power of acknowledgment. I will even help draft it, if invited!


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It is a matter of finding the innovative way to reward and thanks the support received or to recognize the goal achieved. Additional wording may help not trying to be exhaustive.Thanks for a good post on a topic that shall be always in project lead's agenda.


I don't think acknowledgment should be necessarily public. Sometimes a personal, sincere, warm, private, direct recognition is more valuable.

If 'timely feedback' is different from acknowledging the work on the ongoing effort in the project, then I would say it is very important to know that 'you are on the right track'.

Fostering a spirit of mutual back slapping, or assistance, between team members can result in a better coordinated team, than just courtesy compliments. After all, project team members hopefully are professionals and don't need mollycoddling.

The acknowledgment should be public. "Take the blame and share the credit" is what one mentor taught me. One often sees PMs who do the opposite....

Judy, Judy, Judy... As an autographed holder of your Acknowledgment book...(that you so kindly sent after my "tongue firmly planted in cheek comment" - GREAT to see you weighing in on the topic.

I believe PMI tries to "get it" within the H.R. rubric of the PMBOK but they dance around the issue theoretically and miss the boat practically. Eighty percent of my practice is now in soft skills since most organizations have wrestled through Quality, Lean, Balanced Scorecards, PMO, 6-Sigma, yada yada yada.

But the integration of true depth in how teams excel is left to be a laggard topic at best within the bowels of PMI. I'm cheering for you and would also gladly help author some "good stuff!" Best to you in 2010! Brad Hunt

Many people focus on results, but results are some other people working hard for them.

Great Post!!!

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