"The thing that motivates me is a very common form of motivation. And that is, with other folks counting on me, it's so easy to be motivated" - Jeff Bezos
One of the keys to a successful project is a motivated team. Often when the project is new, technology is exciting and new relationships are forged at the beginning of the project, which is how the teams get motivated. However, as teams start facing problems and as stress levels increase, the motivation dwindles in between the project and diminishes to a great extent by the end of the project. One of the important roles of a project manager is to create an environment in which team members can build high levels of motivation right from the beginning of the project and maintain it throughout. Team members usually look up to their project managers to stay motivated and resolve some of their complex issues and challenges.
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But, as a project manager how can you motivate and sustain your people?
Here are a few landfills on how to motivate and sustain your team.
Lead and Manage by Example
Team members are always watching their project managers closely. Therefore, as project manager you should always try and lead by example. You should be as honest, direct and transparent in your dealings as possible. You should also work hard, motivate others and have fun in your projects. This approach is quite contagious in projects and encourages other team members to do the same.
Quite recently, while working with David on an international volunteer project, I realized the true impact of leading and managing by example. While managing the project, David and his family were affected by hurricane Sandy. But, despite the challenges that he faced due to the hurricane, which included blackouts and shortage of food supplies, David went ahead and volunteered with other organizations to raise funds for the affected families in the area. This inspired other team members of the project to contribute willingly and execute the project with great motivation.
Team members feel a sense of belonging and cultivate more trust in their employers
when you are considerate towards them. Every individual feels the inherent need to be heard, understood and appreciated for their contributions. Small gestures such as a personal word with your team members or congratulatory e-mails could go a long way in showing that you genuinely care for them and that you respect their time and efforts.
Once, while managing a team of software developers, I came across a team member who was being noticed for his absenteeism and non-productive work. When I had a personal word with him, I realized that the root cause of his absenteeism was a high level of demotivation for not being recognized at work. However, I was able to motivate him by reducing his workload, assigning him into certain reskilling courses and sharing knowledge from subject-matter experts. This inculcated a deeper sense of belonging in him for the organization and for his team members and also enhanced the quality of his contributions.
As a project manager, you should be direct and open in your communications and should also be willing to deal with every of problem. If you and your team cannot resolve them, then you should escalate the issue to the next level to get it resolved.
This way you could gain the trust and respect of all the stakeholders including your team members.
In spite of all challenges, project managers are expected to stay positive and motivate their team. Team members tend to look up to their project managers during the times of crisis. A negative attitude by the project manager could prove to be a disaster for the project.
While implementing a project based on Microsoft SharePoint at the client location, some of our major stakeholders felt that our team was not competent enough to deliver. However, despite all the challenges that we faced, me and my team remained focused and positive and finally managed to deliver the project within the desired schedule and budget. This not only turned around our project but also helped our organization rebuild its credibility with the client.
Define Clear Expectations
You should set and define clear expectations from your team members. This could help you in dealing several issues including misunderstandings as you move ahead in your project. Team members know what is expected of them and it helps them in delivering better.
Successful projects are a result of maintaining high standards in project management practices, which are usually executed in the right manner by trained or certified project managers, motivated teams and supporting sponsors. Project managers need a spectrum of skills including several hard and soft skills to survive and manage projects in a fiercely competitive world that exists today. However, it is the higher level business skills such as communication, stakeholder management, conflict resolution and the ability to motivate and sustain your team members that creates a difference between mediocre results and award-winning success. Project managers could consider using these strategies to motivate and sustain their teams.