A milestone is an important part of effective project management. It helps you gauge progress and project health, as well as giving you’re a set of short-term, concrete goals to aim for. It’s also a great chance to show your team some appreciation and raise their morale by giving out milestone-related rewards.
Why use milestone rewards?
I know what some of you are thinking: why reward the team for something when the project isn’t even complete yet? In fact, why reward them at all for something that’s just a part of their job?
Tangible rewards are a great way to motivate people to perform better. It’s easier to keep your “eye on the prize” when there’s an actual prize to shoot for. With the right criteria, a milestone reward can be a source of either healthy competition or flawless teamwork. Gamifying your project can also make work an enjoyable experience for your team while still keeping things professional.
What makes a good reward?
This would depend on your team and what they would find appealing. Many people wouldn’t appreciate a round of golf, and others wouldn’t know what to do with an Apple TV. Don’t go overboard with your milestone rewards—you’ll be handing out a lot of these, and you don’t want to break your budget.
Try thinking out of the box, like maybe treating your team to a round of drinks, or giving the winner a day off. Heck, you can even organize an office videogame tournament, if that’s what your team is into. Just make sure you give your team a say (or at least let them know in advance), otherwise your brilliant team activity idea is going to bomb. Badly.
What if the milestone is late?
That’s the thing, isn’t it? Ideally, you should only reward behavior that you want to duplicate. So if a milestone is late, the team doesn’t get the reward, right? Why should reward people for missing a deadline?
But what if the delay isn’t their fault? Or they had to overcome extreme challenges in order to get the milestone done? Should you reward the effort, or the accomplishment?
This is a highly subjective question, and it can go both ways. Personally, I would hold back the milestone reward, but reward individual accomplishment where appropriate (with a smaller prize). That way, there are two reasons for the team to strive harder: the milestone reward, and recognition for individual accomplishment.
Image credit, Flickr, robinsonsmay