We all know the importance of effectively managing project resources - the time, the money and the people - with the often complex interactions and interdependencies they have. We understand the importance of delivering the right work on time, sticking to the budget and ensuring we put together the right teams and are getting the best value out of our teams.
But managing a team of people is not just about assigning them the appropriate tasks for their skill set or efficiently scheduling tasks based on a person's availability. It is, just as importantly, about keeping the people motivated and enthusiastic - yet how often do we, as project managers, dedicate time to motivating our project team?
You might praise a piece of work well-done or a tight deadline met, or the self-motivation of individuals, but are you really putting effort into motivating your whole project team? In the cut and thrust of a busy project it can, of course, be hard to find the time to dedicate to some "motivational" activities. However, the potential rewards are high – both on your current project and future projects so finding the time is worth it.
The Perfect Team? Does It Exist?
We'd all like to think that everyone enjoys their job but, unfortunately, that isn’t true (although thankfully I don't count myself in those numbers) so your team quite probably contains at least one person who is not as enthusiastic or motivated as they might be.
We might talk about the importance of putting together the perfect team, with the right experience, skills and attitudes, but sometimes – even often - this is simply not possible and the team ends up comprised of people who would not have been your first choice. Sometimes project managers don't even have any choice over team members.
So developing a well-motivated, enthusiastic team can be crucial to the project's success and deserves just as much of your time and attention as schedules and budgets, status reports and communication plans.
Things You Can Do To Motivate Your Team Right Now
- Be a good role model: It is impossible to motivate others if you yourself are not motivated, so tackle that first if it is a potential issue.
- Listen: Listening is as much part of good communication as disseminating information so always listen to the team's concerns, feedback and ideas. Open team communication helps motivate individuals because they can be involved in producing innovative ideas and spotting problems before they occur.
- Develop skills: Everyone can improve on their professional and inter-personal skills – that's one reason why continuing professional development (CPD) is an important part of a career in project management. So make sure your team have the opportunity to do so, especially as more and more young apprentices join project teams and will have had less experience of the workplace than other colleagues.
- Seek the positives: Try to focus on the positive in every situation and ensure your feedback to the team is positive whenever possible. It's easy when all is not going well to highlight mistakes but, without wanting to suggest you treat your team like children, just consider how you would deal with a young child who made a mistake. You would, I hope, be positive and encourage them to try again to boost their confidence. We tend to assume adults don't need a confidence boost in the same way but that often isn't the case.
- Eat together: It's not news that colleagues will bond in social situations; over lunch or a beer so plan team lunches or after work drinks to strengthen working relationships within the team and motivate the whole team at the same time.
- Build a team spirit: Often the motivation of an individual can be improved because they don’t want to let the rest of the team down. They may not be interested in the project, or you as a leader, but they will still perform because they support the rest of the team. For this reason team planning and progress meetings are highly powerful, because the disengaged team member sees their impact on the rest of the team.
Have you tried any of these ways to motivate your project team? Which do you find works best?