Ensuring a motivated team is a project manager’s first and foremost job. A highly motivated team will deliver wonders regardless of the challenges that may be faced. The dynamics of team motivation though are not so straightforward. Its never 1 + 1 = 2. It is more of an art than a science. Every project manager has read books on motivation theory at some point of time in his career and knows the theory but applying it in real situations on the ground is another story all together.
While some do it rather skillfully, there are many who struggle. The traditional approaches to motivation rely on the external – trying to find what needs and wants the employees have and to satisfy them. But its also important to look inside and see what qualities we as project managers have that contribute to having a motivated team around us.
Transparency – Being transparent and honest goes a long way to building the team members trust in you. This does not mean you will share anything and everything. Things which are supposed to be confidential must remain so. Its essentially knowing the right time and place, but more so its about the attitude.
Impartiality – As a project manager, your ultimate goal is to deliver the project and personal likings/disliking’s should never come in your way during conflict resolutions. This sends out a very positive message to the team.
Get your hands dirty – Don’t be afraid or shy away when your team is stuck in some challenges which seem insurmountable. Get on the ground with them. Maybe technically you have your limitations and cannot contribute much but your visibility and passion will rub off and is a huge motivator for any team. You also get to know more about the practical challenges on the ground than from behind that glass door. This helps set realistic achievable targets for the team.
1-1 relationship – This is the secret of true leaders. You cannot have a personal bonding with every member of your team especially on large scale projects. But with those you interact on regular basis, develop a solid relationship and be the one whom people are not afraid of approaching with problems. Also don’t let any opportunity pass by when you can talk to a team member you don’t know. It could even be a simple hello or a smile. Such gestures pass on a very strong positive message downwards.
Stand behind the team – This is the age old adage of leaders. If you succeed, its because of the team. If you fail, its because of you. This does not necessarily mean you will literally take on all the blame. But you will stand by your team members when they fail, help them recover and take it forward.
At the end of the day, all projects are about people and if you are or become the project manager that is a talent magnet, you will ensure that you will have the right team to take any project to crowning glory.
Hrishikesh is an enterprise agile coach with interests in varied disciplines. Frequently writing on Agile and Lean related topics, he also occasionally ventures into other stuff like Artificial Intelligence as well..
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