For years we have been training people on how to successfully manage EU projects. But as one of my clever colleagues pointed out last week, we have never shown how to enjoy all these chaotic, annoying, frustrating and in the same time wonderful moments you spend on an EU project.
When you attend one of our training courses you can feel that we do enjoy our work. Every new project represents a challenge, a new set of problems and in the same time, a new project also brings new connections, opportunities, friendships and the feeling that you are part of something meaningful. Yes, no matter how romantically that sounds. I have been managing these projects for more than 15 years now, so I understand that not all projects generate a huge value for the European society.
But it is up to you! Develop a project proposal that you think is meaningful and work towards objectives that you believe in. All the work you do will become so much more enjoyable and worthy.
Still sceptic? You have been invited to a project that is not your idea, your expertise was needed, and you have been assigned a task in the project that you normally do on an every-day basis. You do not feel that the work in the EU project is different from the normal job you do. But, it requires much more administration and other obligations you must comply with, while the benefits of participation are truer for your organization and your boss, not you who is doing the actual work. Ok, this post is for you then.
How to get the most out of it?
- Enjoy networking, enjoy the meetings and travels
Social collaboration, setting the basis for getting to know each other is a must activity for each new project. Every coordinator knows that this is key if they want to have good teamwork.
People working on these projects are amazing – exception are very rare, but unfortunately, it happens – professionally and culturally. Every time I go to a meeting I meet people whose professional contribution or personality makes my work enjoyable. Lifelong learning is an open opportunity in the projects and if you grab it, your next project will be better, you yourself will become a better manager or researcher. Having a dinner with a Greek guy, let’s call him Kostas – of course with a glass of wine - is just simply generating happy hormones for the whole next day. Having a lunch in Paris with a Norwegian lady, her name e.g. Inger, who used to live ten years in South Africa is the best storytelling experience you can have. But you need to ask your partners and pay attention so that these stories come out. The connections, the network will make your work easier and yes, more enjoyable on an every-day basis.
And the travels? One meeting in France, another one in Hungary, a third in Serbia or Sweden within the next two years. Yes! The point is not to visit another airport and another hotel and meeting facility. Travel before or stay a little longer – just a few hours can make the trip worthwhile. You go to Brussels again and again? Steel 2 hours and visit the Horta museum, or if May, sit down on a sunny terrace and get a beer.
If you treat your soul on project travels and pay attention to your project partners, then you will get the most out of it.
Extra work on the project after office hours?
- ABOVE ALL – Find your motivation for getting involved – Enjoy the actual work
Your boss might have told you why your organisation is a partner in the project and you might get some bonus for the extra work. That probably will make you committed, but will it help to enjoy the process? The secret might lie in understanding better what the project is about and what results will it generate. Have you read fully the proposal? Do you really see what benefits the project will generate for the different target groups?
We disseminate project results related to a new waste treatment technology; a new panel construction for building insulation; or a new augmented reality application to promote our cultural heritage. Our social media expert’s work will become efficient if she/he knows that the new technology generates a change in the living conditions for an old lady in Montieri whose building gets insulated properly or if cultural behavioural change can generate energy saving in a Polish SME and where the employees get also happier living an energy conscious life.
No, your work will probably not “save the world”.
But the data you analyse in a Life Cycle Assessment software may help an old lady – someone’s grandma – to have a more comfortable life.
The training you provide to professionals in Earth Observation methods will help them to get our oceans cleaner.
The augmented reality app on the Uffizi Gallery helps our children to learn about our cultural heritage in a meaningful way.
Look at the final beneficiaries – find the benefits and you will find the reason why your work is valuable. If you care, your work will become enjoyable on an every-day basis.