Of all the resources utilized during a project, the team working on the project is the most complex to manage. When motivated, your project team can take up Herculean tasks and not break a sweat but when things go wrong there is little saving the ship unless you find a way to change course in time. Motivation is a complex art, while the rule of the thumb is appreciation and reward, the same incentives do not work on all individuals.
1. Always start with yourself; to motivate others you have to be motivated yourself and should look for positives in all situations. As a role model, if you are energetic and inviting your team will have confidence in you and will follow willingly.
2. Share the information you have about the project and give them a sense of ownership. It is their project; they should know the circumstances and limitations surrounding the project. This can lead to team members coming up with good suggestions as well.
3. When you face a work related problem your team is your best resource, and one that can rise to the occasion if you manage to motivate them. Take your problems to them; discuss and look for ideas and ways out of trouble. Once they feel you are a part of the team it is easier to rev them up good.
4. While discipline is important, strive to keep your work environment as informal as possible. People usually work better without the boss breathing down their neck so push for deadlines but in a manner that makes it a team goal they can take pride in achieving instead of an order that precedes insults on failure.
5. Projects are divided into phases; a good PM motivates his team by pointing out the milestones within the project. Usually you can arrange for special celebrations upon reaching the milestones on time. Plan your work parties ahead of time, or plan them during work hours so the team can all gather around and enjoy instead of worrying about other commitments.
6. Always appreciate your team members, even the small tasks that result in the leader saying ‘thank you’ can make people strive harder for appreciation. While communicating, choose your words wisely; be humble, use words like we instead of I.
7. During evaluation do not try to pin the blame on anyone as it creates an environment of distrust. For a good team environment you have to make them believe it is a team accomplishment or team failure.
8. Provide feedback in a positive manner; give them what was done right, mention the shortcomings and how the team can do better. Be a part of the team when there is blame to take but end your feedback on a positive note.
9. Everyone eats, take individual team members out to lunch, discuss trivial things as well as work related matters and just let them enjoy the time. Its free lunch to them and your time is well spent because at the end of it you have established a relationship from which you get fresh ideas and a willing worker who knows he is valued.
10. Listen to your team members talk; give them your ear from time to time and really listen. This should be a ritual every few days to get their perspectives. You can get new ideas and things they say can help you improve your policies and even benefit your business.
11. When a team member comes to you with a problem be positive in your analysis, try to find a definite solution and back him to work it out, even if you have to roll up your sleeves and help. Earning respect with deeds goes further than words.
12. Always support your team, give them confidence and give them opportunities to fulfill your confidence. It is imperative that you tell them you are there to support them in case they are stuck.
13. Not everyone can handle every job. As a leader it is up to you to pick the right person for the right job because while an under confident member can gain loads from successfully achieving his goal, failure has a huge negative impact on morale.
14. Eating together can be a relationship builder, have team lunches where someone gives a work related presentation. You basically end up killing two birds with a single stone.
15. Let your team be creative. Your team’s productivity is likely to go up if you give them a day where they can try out their ideas, as long as it has something to do with the project at hand, let them enjoy themselves.
16. What do people work best for? Something they have stakes in, those can be monetary stakes and they can be emotional or personal attachments. If you instill a sense of ownership in the team they will take the team goals as their personal goals, you need not worry about the end product after that; it is going to be their best effort.
17. Give them something fun to look forward to. That can be some time off at a board game or you can have a bake off or something similar. It is good to pit the junior members against the seniors and let them enjoy the competition. Or you can have work parties, give people responsibility to arrange them and bring people out of their shells so they take up responsibilities as well. The whole program helps lighten the mood and you share something good to eat too.
18. Encouragement goes a long way within a team and individually. When someone does well, be generous in your praise. An email to recognize a good idea, a pat on the back for a quick delivery or praise in front of the team or senior management is an excellent way to tell them they are appreciated.
19. When you ask for ideas and input it is usually the shy team members that lag behind. Give them time as well as the opportunity to come forward and speak. Listen carefully and evaluate ideas on merit, make sure not to discourage anyone though; telling them off for a bad idea means they probably will not speak again.
20. During a discussion, if there is a point that needs clearing up find the time to clarify or ask for a clarification. Misunderstandings can lead to huge blunders and these can be detrimental to how you feel about your team members. Avoid conflict and resolve situations before they can damage the team morale, or that of individuals.
21. Spot the motivators within your team; there are individuals that put a spark in the atmosphere, they are active and they compel others to show the same energy without ever saying it. If you have a good motivator prioritize his career development plans so even if there is no room for vertical growth, he gets satisfaction from horizontal growth within the organization.
22. Brainstorming sessions produce some great ideas and when they are one on one they show your team members they are considered important. Along with importance should come responsibility so give them roles they can fulfill according to their capabilities and interests.
23. Divide the project into parts where you can give individuals smaller achievable goals. This gives them the freedom to do things their way while letting them gain in confidence as well as motivation to do the best they can.
24. Achievement of organizational goals should lead to benefits. These can be monetary benefits as well as packages that provide the team members, e.g. medical cover or something similarly advantageous.
25. Last but not the least, keep Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in mind; not every individual has the same motivational needs and while a certain incentive would work for one team member it would not motivate the other and can even backfire. For instance, if a member is financially insecure he will value a raise more than anything else, but the same raise will not work on a financially secure member, he can be concentrating on job security or his own safety, therefore it is of utmost importance to get to know your team. Once you have worked out where they stand on the hierarchy of needs, you can work out the best motivational incentive for them. Macro-management does not pay the dividends.