Psychology tells us that humans have a strong innate desire to be embraced by a group. Celebrate that! Make your project team the “coolest team on the block.”
Create a sense of affiliation by giving your team a name, a slogan, or a logo, even if you’re the only ones who use it. (Remember having “secret handshakes” with your best kid pals?) Foster a healthy bit of exclusivity and let them revel in how cool they are. Occasionally have “team meetings” in a pub or Starbucks on a Friday afternoon, over snacks and beverages. In the age of Skype and webcams, you even include remote team members. Set up “intramural” fun activities with other project teams, athletic or not– lunchtime poker, anyone? This also helps build networks. You can influence this whether you’re the most senior person on the team, or the most junior. Give it a try, and let me know what other ideas you come up with.