Project Central team motivation
March 21, 2022

How To Motivate Your Team For Better Performance In Your Project?

By Shubhangi Pandey

‘Motivating the team’ is central to any project manager’s role.

So if this is your first time managing a project, there are some points about motivation that will make your job easier.


What is Motivation?

Motivation comes from the word ‘motive’ and is defined as a need that requires satisfaction.

Something that motivates us tends to directly impact how we behave and is a key driving force for how we act.

Motivation can be internal or external.

External motivation can include the desire for promotion, making more money or praise.

While internal motivation can include self-sufficiency, competence or making a difference in the world or at work.

A motivated team is engaged with their work, and an engaged team is 21% more productive.

As an occasional project manager, you want to deliver the best results as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So, to make sure that your team members are motivated, you need to understand what it is that drives them.

Here’s a list of 10 tips for motivating your team.


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10 Tips for Having a Motivated Team

1. Set Clear & Realistic Project Goals

Before starting a project, we need to understand what it is we are setting out to achieve.

There’s nothing as demotivating as a project without a defined outcome.

Our goals must be clear, realistic and easily understood by each team member.

Clear goals will help the team to focus on and work together towards our defined outcome.

All project goals should be SMART:

  • Specific: There must be a defined outcome, a thing to be achieved as for this goal. The more specific, the better as everyone can agree whether it’s achieved or not
  • Measurable: The team must be able to measure how much of the goal has been completed and understand how much remains to be completed
  • Attainable: The goal must be realistic. You cannot expect to launch a rocket into space within 6 weeks
  • Relevant: Why this project is relevant to the team or the company. This helps to provide a deeper motivation among team members if they get behind why it’s important
  • Time-bound: The time in which a goal is to be completed helps to frame the project and to keep people focused. Otherwise, we risk falling victim to Parkinson’s Law.


2. Be Direct with Your Team Members

Once the goals have been defined, we need to make sure they are understood.

Speak directly to each team member about their role to clear up any confusion from the beginning.

One study has shown that “63% of employees reported that they wasted time at work because they weren’t aware of what work was a priority, and what wasn’t”.

So, we need to approach this head-on to help them prioritize their work.


3. Be Positive in Meetings

As the project manager, everything starts with you, including the attitude brought to each meeting.

Positivity is contagious, so, make sure that your whole team feel the effects from you.

Simple things like a smile, eagerness to help and willingness to assist team members and brings a human element to your project.

Empower your team members by being supportive in times of failure and helping them to learn new things from their failures.


4. Conduct Regular Reviews

Have you ever wondered where you stand in your bosses’ mind? Me too.

Have regular review sessions as a team, to discuss their progress.

Supplement these with some one-on-ones to work on the individual’s motivation and keep the door open for conversation.

Ask all members for feedback – good and bad.

This shows your team that you consider them equals and that you listen to their opinions.

Even though regular review sessions are a vital part of any project, informal or casual sessions are just as important.

Especially for the team members.

These can be simple, friendly, and casual interactions but they add a human touch to your project management style and allow you to track progress more efficiently.

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5. Praise Every Victory

If you’re working on a long-term project, break it up into smaller targets and celebrate the small victories.

This can be simply going out for coffee together, dinner or lunch.

Most team leaders make the error of only acknowledging mistakes.

Unless members receive praise for the hard work they do, they will not feel inspired or motivated to put as much effort in in the future.

Criticism, if needed, has to be constructive.

Figure out ways to provide opportunities for each team member to be in the spotlight at least once.

This will motivate them to put in their best effort.


6. Don’t Punish Failure

On the flip side, sometimes we try something and it doesn’t work out.

The same goes for our employees and coworkers.

Trying something and failing is a sign that our team is trying to grow.

Short of bad intentions, members need the freedom to fail in order to move forward.


7. Supply Feedback Right From the Start

Make sure review sessions are implemented right from the start of the project, not halfway through.

This way, the team is prepared for positive and negative feedback throughout the entire project schedule.


8. Encourage Team Interactions

Try to know the team members individually and as a group.

Encourage them to ask questions.

Have meaningful conversations with them and try to find out what inspires them, particularly in relation to their roles.

This should help everyone to get together and understanding what motivates each other and work together as a team.

You can be the leader who empowers his team by creating an environment and inspiring them to do so for each other as well.


9. Do Not Get Caught up in To-do Lists

Don’t be a project manager who gets too caught up with his project plan schedules and make the mistake of focusing only on dates, hours, targets, and reports.

Remember that you are not controlling a team of robots, but a group of highly talented people who would want to do good work with you, but not for you.

In the end, it all boils down to your communication skills.


10. Be Motivated

It’s hard for a team to be motivated and excited about a project if the project’s manager is not.

Lead by example and work on your own motivation levels.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness. 

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