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Motivated teams lead to more successful projects

Money is not the only thing that motivates people. Project team members expect their contributions to be fully recognized or appreciated. In this member-submitted tip, Murugan Srinivasa reviews some critical and crucial steps for project leads to follow in order to motivate their teams

Team motivation is perhaps one of the most critical elements in consistently realizing successful projects. Unfortunately often this is given the least importance and is not practiced on projects because the traditional project management has not realized and recognized its importance.

In the current scenario, projects are executed at different levels: in customer locations, using the onsite-offshore model and in different locations across the world by distributed teams working collaboratively and electronically. The major challenge a project manager faces is motivating the team to get the desired output. Money is not the only thing that motivates people; team members expect their contributions to be fully recognized or appreciated. In this article, I review some critical and crucial steps for project leads and heads to follow in order to motivate their teams (modular or distributed).

1. Hold regular project meetings 

Firstly, conduct regular project meetings with the entire team (face to-face or through Web conferencing if teams are distributed). Precisely and concisely discuss the business values of completing the project successfully. Give them a big picture (the overall context) about the project and how this project is going to help the sponsor/clients/end users achieve the established business goals.

Get the project sponsor to talk about the various aspects and the needs at different levels and how successful completion would bring laurels and value to his firm as well as to the executing company. Each week at the team meeting recognize the team members who have done a good job. However, specific comments about individual team members and their work need to be discussed with the particular team member only, and corrective actions need to be initiated then and there.

Set aside a couple of hours a day every week to have open discussions with the team members. Communicate the date and time of your office hours to the team well in advance. During this time, any team member can walk in to your office to discuss any issue or concern (personal or professional). Encourage team members to discuss technical problems to arrive at a better solution. This will facilitate an open environment for innovative thinking and collaborative functioning.

2. Send appreciation emails

The following points are simple but very effective activities that can be performed by the manager to motivate the entire team or any team member.

  • Recognize a good job performed by a team member by sending a good email. If the email comes from the project sponsor, that's even better.
  • Circulate the appreciation emails from the project stakeholder to all team members.
  • Display the appreciation emails in the organization notice board so that all the employees in the organization can read and appreciate the contribution of the team or team member.
  • Publish these appreciation emails in the project/organization newsletter.

3. One-on-one meetings

The manager should have regular one-on-one meetings with each team member to identify any personal issues. This is a good forum for the manager to share his feedback (positive or negative) about the team members. Prepare an action plan to address the team members' concerns. Track the action plan to closure.

Conduct one-on-one career planning discussions with each team member every six months. Identify skills required for the team members to progress to the next level in the organization. Provide all the training and support required for the candidate to become more confident in the progress of his career.

4. Have fun 

Apart from work, make sure you have a lot of fun in the project. This includes the following:

  • Celebrate birthdays/wedding anniversaries of the team members.
  • Arrange for a team pizza lunch. (If the company is not sponsoring, all the team members can contribute.)
  • Plan small games (bowling) or get-togethers so that all the team members can participate.
  • Team members can take turns getting donuts or snacks for the entire team.

5. Give rewards and recognition 

Regularly recognize the team by providing rewards for the excellent contribution performed by the team (monthly/quarterly/yearly). The rewards can be given to individual team members or to the entire team. Define the selection criteria for the each reward in advance either via email or the company Web site.

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