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Are Happy Project Managers More Productive?

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Fact: A happy person is more creative, productive and engaged than an unhappy person.

As project managers and leaders, we are responsible for optimizing our teams' productivity. One effective way for you and your team to achieve great productivity is to create a happy workplace.

Creating a positive environment is your responsibility as a leader. As the saying goes, "There are no bad soldiers under a good general."  

In his book, Full Engagement, Brian Tracy outlines a simple series of actions any leader can take to encourage positive contributions from everyone. These ideas are not new. Aristotle believed the underlying motive for every human action was the desire to be happy.

The golden rule for creating happiness is to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But this requires a number of specific actions.

First, avoid destructive criticism. Destructive criticism sparks feelings of fear, rejection, anger and defensiveness. Leaders should resolve never to criticize, attack, insult or diminish another person -- including team members. Instead, look for good in everything that happens and learn to view problems as opportunities.

Second, stop complaining. When you complain about something you become a victim of the situation, diminish your self-confidence and open yourself to feeling inadequate. You hurt yourself much more than the target of your complaints.

Third, remove fear from the workplace. If you want people to be innovative and creative there has to be room for experimentation and failure. It is impossible to improve without risking failure. Remember: Fear of failure can prevent improvement.

Finally, do not condemn anyone for any reason. This can irreparably damage relationships.

Here are some positive actions you can take to develop a happy and productive project team:

  1. Smile when you see someone for the first time each day.
  2. Ask people how they're feeling. A genuine interest in your team members goes a long way.
  3. Listen attentively to others and be polite and courteous.
  4. Keep your team informed.
  5. Design work assignments so that each team member can be successful. Then acknowledge their successes.


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I love this list - simple tasks but so easy to implement in both projects (and in every day work life). Interesting to see most of them involve plain good manners!

Hi Lynda,

In your last 5 points, I think the first two are very hard for many project managers to apply genuinely. Most of them will look "fake" when they smile at you (which is worse than not smiling), and most of them don't care at all about your "personal feelings".

In my opinion, project managers are born, not made.

Completely agree with Lynda and all the comments above me. Apart from the Brian Tracy book which you mentioned in your article, I would also like to recommend one from Tony Schwartz and James E. Loehr. It's titled - "The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal."

Definitely yes. Happy is a state of mind. When facing a situation, it can be stressful to one person and positive to another.

First, we have to 'truly believe' that a happy environment brings the best in someone and the rest will come. Subsequently, we will try to create happy situations at the workplace. A simple joke of the day or a Dilbert cartoon will bring smiles to all the team members.

I agree, i believe a happy person on a team helps in creating a positive environment. A project manager is one of the most influencing members of the team, so his attitude towards project and life matters the most.

I want to suggest one more action. PM should invest time in himself. Becoming a happy person is not difficult but it is also not so easy. Once PM is satisfied with his job and life then only he can feel good about his acts.

To create a happy and motivated team, PM should be happy and motivated fist. Healthy life style and some level of medication can help PM in developing positive attitude.

Happy project managers are more productive and they can keep their team happy. I agree to different points raised by other commentators.

As far complaint part goes, I believe that if a complaint is viewed and expressed as only a problem, then that's really a problem. Every such stressful point (complaint) must also have a solution. Give a possible solution (preferably implement) with the problem and encourage your team members to do similar.

As a Project Manager, you need to create more synergy, & praise people's strengths and weaknesses. We must know how to take ownership of things & also delegate work to team members & let the team do their tasks on their own.

Agree with the points in the post. Whether you are a PM or not, life is too short not to enjoy what you do...and help others enjoy what they do.

As a PM, you have a chance to come in contact with and influence a lot of people across the org. You can set the tone for the meeting, the day, the partnership...so all the things you mention above are critical to helping others be successful.

Anyone is more productive when he or she is happy, whether that someone is a project manager, a team member, an assistant, etc... Productivity is proportional to happiness. People are willing to put extra effort and work into the company when they're happy.

About the "Stop complaining" part: I totally agree, I have noticed that whoever complains will be perceived as the nagging type, which will eventually reduce his professionalism.

Even when there is a conflict, if the project manager complains to his sponsor about someone, then will be seen as a weak person who probably shouldn't manage a project in the first place (better resolve the conflict yourself than complaining to your sponsor).

To create more synergy, it's helpful to praise people's skills. Let them know that you see their abilities. Sense of ownership is vital to all of us and as project managers we must let our teams to own their tasks.

Also, there must be a balance between feeling confident in taking control of things and taking control of everything for everyone!

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