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25 Sure-fire Ways To Motivate Your Team MembersMay 12, 2008Most Popular Posts 25 Sure-fire Ways To Motivate Your Team Members Fifth Discipline: What To Do When All Your Projects Are Failing 25 Ways Project People Can Train Their Mental Flexibility 23 Powerful Tips for Working in Multi-Cultural Teams The Death Of Gantt Charts? 25 Rock Solid Tips to Supervise Offshore Development Why Soft Skills Are Essential To Project Managers The Four Dharmas Of Project Management New Free Project Management E-book: Project Shrink Linear Edition Burn-Down Chart Instead of Gantt 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.

Photography by I'm a monster.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 teams 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. "I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." -Kurt VonnegutProjects are about humans. I know; it says so on my blog. Projects are people working together.Problems in projects are people problems. I know; research says so. And my blog.Currently projects operate in complex, mobile, global, on-demand, around the clock, instant and diverse environment. I know you know.

THE question is how we can mold Project Managers in such a way that they can operate within this context? It sounds to me that we should focus on people, people working together, complexity and globalization. And of course another zillion aspects.

We should be getting PMs using all three parts of their brain (left, right and heart). That might not be the "pure" Project Management discipline curriculum. Who cares. If it is what we need, you can call it whatever you want, as long as you educate yourself along those lines.We need to educate ourselves as Project Managers. But not in new checklists or new procedures. We need to learn the fundamentals, the "why's". It will last longer."Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime" - Lao TzuThis year, I learned that you cannot jump from the PMBoK directly to topics like "mental flexibility" and "emotional intelligence". I am sorry to tell you, but most people cannot make that jump that fast. A path to "project enlightenment" has to be defined. Conveniently, I think I have one.In Buddhism teachings are presented in Turnings of The Wheel Of Dharma. Each turn builds upon the previous one and brings the student to a higher level of consciousness. I love this as a metaphor. It provides a great analogy for my path to "project enlightenment"The Four Dharmas Of Project ManagementI assume that you already have basic knowledge of Project Management (again, there is nothing wrong with that, it is just that you need more). The four steps you take from there are:First Turn: Flow Of StakesSecond Turn: Structure For ResilienceThird Turn: Global PoolFourth Turn: Mental FlexibilityIn this post I will provide a short introduction to every turn. In the next months I will give this wheel a good yank and let it spin: explanations will take place, but also heavy interaction with you and all other readers. This an ambitious undertaking, and as with all other projects, I cannot do this on my own.

First Turn: Flow Of StakesWhat I really want to tell people immediately after they finish their PM course, formed the basics for my book "Surprise! Now You're A Software Project Manager". That of course, would be the first turn of the PM wheel. The two major concepts addressed in the book are: The Flow Of Stakes Project Potion The Flow Of StakesThe most important aspect is the mindset of the project manager. He should focus on one simple mental image of the jobs he has to perform instead of trying to cram 500 pages of charting and calculating into his head. He should know the flow of stakes: Stakeholders have stakes Stakeholders communicate their stakes by expressing their expectations, and these are more formally defined by means of requirements to the process or product Project management should make every stakeholder a winner by accepting and creating requirements that continually satisfy the stakes of individual stakeholders and do not conflict with the general process or the product Project management should give continuous feedback to the stakeholders on the state of the stakes Based upon this feedback, the expectations and requirements might change, and in this way a new cycle begins. For a lot of people involved in projects, one inescapable conclusion still comes as a big surprise: project management is a people business. Its all about keeping everyone associated with the project happy by supporting his or her stakes. The trouble with stakes is that no one tells you what they are. You have to guess, negotiate, anticipate, and manipulate to get past the requirements and directly through to the fears and wishes of people. Software project management is more about psychology than technology.Project PotionDifferent project circumstances require different approaches to ensure optimum effectiveness. As mentioned above, it is the people who largely determine these circumstances, and you have to tailor your software approach to the particular situation. For this you can make use of techniques and tools from different existing methods by simply mixing and matching everything together in such a way that you brew the right Project Potion for the occasion.Concocting a Project Potion consists of the following steps: You analyze the stakeholders and their interests and expectations (Stakeholder Analysis). You analyze the products (technical stuff) you have to create. You determine the potential risks that might exist (Risk Management). You create a project approach that reduces those risks, and for this you have three main tools: Strategy: What are the steps taken in the project, and what are the sequence and time frame? Organization: How is your project organization constructed? Feedback: How is the feedback to the stakeholders on the status and content of products and processes organized?

Second Turn: Structure For ResilienceThe first turn addressed the link between individual stakeholders and the effect of these stakeholders on running the project. In the second turn you will focus more on the interaction of people.Whatever your take is on projects, at the end of the day it is just a bunch of people working together to achieve a certain goal. During this endeavor they laugh, cry, pull pranks, play dirty tricks and have all other kind of behavior towards each other. If you are lucky they even work to reach the final goal. If you take everything away, and put people in the center of what a "project" is, you will see a group of stakeholders interacting with each other, just like any other group of people would do.Just to make things easier on our lives, we call the result of all this behavior the project. In this sense it is nothing more than an abstraction. If we say "the project is late", this doesnt mean that some creature or entity from outer space showed up later than expected; it is the result of the project people working together that wasnt finished on the time we predicted.Social InteractionsIf we look at the interactions between the stakeholders, some categories may come in handy to divide up the beast we are trying to concur; it is always easier to cut a complex issue into smaller parts when trying to make some sense of it. For this purpose I will use three dimensions for interactions in teams: the power structure, the task structure and the information structure.The power structure can best be viewed as the hierarchy that exists, it is, if you want, a vertical dimension. The task structure is the structure that consists to perform the actual work; these are interactions that are needed to finish or start a certain task. If the previous dimension is vertical, you can think of this one as horizontal. And the last structure concerning information, are the interactions based upon the exchange of information. This dimension goes from left to right, from top to bottom, so in fact, going all over the place.The power structure will contain subjects like hierarchical control and planning, the way people are instructed and how the boss is treated back. Concepts like authorization and responsibilities are handled within this dimension. The task structure can be viewed as the actual production chain, it contains all needed interaction to perform task and to create the products. And finally the information structure, subject within this dimension is how, what and when information is provided when the project people are communicating.Resilience To Cope With ChangeIn this view a project is a human system working towards a desired goal. However, the project is running within an environment that is changing continuously. The project needs ways to deal with these changes and still keep performing its function, that is, reaching the desired goal. The project needs "resilience"."Resilience is the ability to absorb disturbances, to be changed and then to re-organize and still have the same identity (retain the same basic structure and ways of functioning). It includes the ability to learn from the disturbance. A resilient system is forgiving of external shocks. As resilience declines the magnitude of a shock from which it cannot recover gets smaller and smaller. Resilience shifts attention from purely growth and efficiency to needed recovery and flexibility." (source)Resilience can be found in the individual members of the group, and within the interactions between the members. For the individual person adaption is created by having an open and flexible mind, and having the proper social network.

Third Turn: Global PoolInteractions between people don't "just happen". We live in a big world and you and I don't know everybody else. But somehow, for some reason groups of people emerge, interactions are created. In the third turn called "Global Pool" we address why people are getting together and how and why certain interactions emerge.Economic ClusteringLike the oceans are all connected to each other and provide us with currents, so are the economic forces in constant flux and alternating over the globe. Work moves around. If it can be produced cheaper, more efficiently or better, it gets relocated. Talent moves around. If one area on the globe is more exciting and thrilling than another, people relocate. Work moves around and people that perform the work move around. Not necessarily dependent of each other.Regional population changes rapidly. Asia gets a booming population growth. First world nations have a enormous amount of seniors coming towards them as the baby boomers are getting old. With regional changes in the populations, the demand for work shifts.But one remarkable aspect is that work seems to be located around certain topological centers like a harbor, a place rich of natural resources or just cities. Work is not spread out evenly over the planet. There are concentrations of it. The same goes for the other current, that of talent moving around. The most incredible, creative talent is looking for great places to live. Places where tolerant stimulating locations provide company of like minded people. Both currents have as a net effect that people are clustering, one gets clusters because people have the need to satisfy their economic needs.Social ClusteringSuppose the map of the earth doesn't reflect countries, but they represent ideas. Or they would represent religions, world views, life styles and other concepts. Imagine a spatial representation of concepts. People will not be spread out evenly. What you will see is that people are cuddling up next to each other. As their social needs by definition can only be fulfilled in relationship to other people, the association needed with groups ensures the clustering will be a fact when using a conceptual map.The removal of trade and other barriers, the ever increasing availability of cheap communication are what puts the village into Global Village. The impact is not only economic. Globalization also has its effects on social needs:By the end of the twentieth century, if not before, globalization had turned world order into a problem. Everyone must now reflexively respond to the common predicament of living in one world. This provokes the formulation of contending world views. For example, some portray the world as an assembly of distinct communities, highlighting the virtues of particularism, while others view it as developing toward a single overarching organization, representing the presumed interests of humanity as a whole. (source)How Projects EmergeFor a project to form we cannot simply wait for people to float by. You have to enforce the clustering. Software projects are ideal conditions for using labor from all parts of the world and using technology to let people work together. Even the main output of the endeavor (software) is digital! If you are trying to get on board a fabulous project team, you are competing with the rest of the world. Why should the project manager pick you? Why should the organization pick you as a PM? Why should they have even heard of you? "Self promotion, Baby!" What makes you "you"? Why are you more suited for the job then the rest of the crowd?And reverse: why should people want to work on your project? Because you have a project that is life changing, that is worth their effort. Because you provide an awesome creative and inspiring environment. You provide leadership that inspires people to rise to the occasion, to become larger than themselves. You give trust, and you can be trusted.

Fourth Turn: Flexible MindChange is the norm. Change is happening fast. The projects you are managing are not your daddy's projects. To be able to handle the ever morphing environment, you need to become agile, flexible as you have never been before. To cope with the environment you need a brain that can use many mental models to look at reality. You need to be able to throw away your pre-programmed belief and adopt a different mindset in the blink of an eye. The essential part of becoming a flexible Project Manager therefor starts within the comfort of your own head. In this final turn I will outline the three steps that should guide your journey:Self-AwareThe first step is to become aware of why you do what you do. Do you perform tasks because you are expected to do so, or do they really solve a problem or mitigate a risk? Are you aware of why you have organized the project in a certain way? Do you know the benefits and drawbacks of every procedure you installed in your team?EmphaticAfter becoming self-aware you can start guessing why others are doing what they are doing. First you guess, later you ask. This is the same process to become self-aware, only this time you adopt different assumptions, take on a believe system that is not your own. If you are used to run a country and you have a communist background, you probably are trying to regulate, centralize and formalize as much as possible. You want to control every individual behavior in order to control the whole system. When you are raised with a more laissez-faire world view, you can adopt a reign that is totally governed by the free market. Nothing is centrally controlled, everything will take care of itself. If you run one country, to become more emphatic, you will use the other mindset for a while.HolisticFree at last. Free at last.In this final stage you are able to use all kind of mental models. You are aware of what triggers what. You can mix and match from different world views. You use an Agile planing within a Prince 2 organization. And you know why you use it! You get to know how to look at dynamic-complexity without getting into a spasm. You come up with all new kind of weird mental models.