Numerous theories on how to motivate your project team
There exist numerous theories on how to motivate people. Some of them are bad, some are good. This article is not aimed to enumerate and analyze all of them. It just offers several most important points in motivation, based on my experience only.
Point #1 – People never change
People never change. Any wife, experienced or not so experienced, will prove this statement. Yes, it is possible to instill some basic habits in a husband, but as soon as wife lessens supervision, these habits are put aside. The same happens in the Project Manager’s job. There are bad employees, but there are good ones. It is impossible to make a good employee out of a bad one, people are who they are. Neither the award nor punishment or intimate conversations and shouting on bad employees do not work. You can learn to live with bad employee, but not for long. You can encourage them to work, it is simply impossible to work like this forever. Motivation will only work if you are surrounded with excellent personnel who think like you, and do the job the way you need and like (these are what we can call good employees). And this is possible only in start-ups or companies in companies with non-standard approach to selecting employees with well-developed recruitment. Jim Rohn noted that it is not enough to use motivation only, if you have an idiot and you motivate him, the result you get is a motivated idiot.
Point #2 – Ambitions and skills
The motivation of the person is a balance between his ambitions and skills. If you take an excellent student of an average college and give him an opportunity to study in Oxford, for example, he will face failure after failure at the beginning of his “Oxford career “, he will simply get unsatisfied marks for every single discipline. But later his situation will improve, this person will become an excellent student again. And vice versa, an average Oxford student, having started studying in a college, will become an excellent student, but then he will back to a person with average marks (he will think that there is no reason to make efforts, everything is fine). Similar axiom can be observed at work: people usually work so that their ambitions were in harmony with their abilities. Of course, there are some employees, whose balance can be easily upset, they can do surprising things while working on the project, all you need to do is to motivate them. But this trick can’t be applied every day, from time to time only. It is the manager’s mission to find these points when the harmony between ambitions and skills can be broken. And it is of a vital importance to notice such breaks, when they have negative coloring, leading to a failure.
Point #3 – Money
Money is a good short-term motivation, though it can’t be applied for establishing long-term efficient work. Indeed, the specialists who are ready to work for a small salary do not exist. And there are no absolutely incompetent people winning millions. So, money is already a motivation for any worker. He works hard and he gets reward. If the project comes out of your control and the manager needs to solve a problem quickly, he must motivate the team to work harder. Money motivation is the easiest way to achieve the goal ‚Äì one-time bonus is an excellent decision. But! There exists a risk that next time the manager will work with a team who does not want to work fast demonstrating low motivation, the team which is waiting for money bonuses refusing to work for free. Yes, to solve a problem with additional payment is a good variant, but the manager should be ready for the consequences. It’s better to think twice if the problem really requires such motivation.
Point #4 – Fear
The best short-term motivation is FEAR. All people are afraid of something. Even the most wonderful feelings as love, friendship, patriotism are connected with fear (for example, we are afraid of loosing our dear person). Fear as motivation doesn’t mean that the manager has to growl at employees, killing their will and initiative. The fear is an understanding of the negative consequences if the employee failures to carry out the task. This fear should be inculcated in a very polite and mild way: “If you do not finish this by tomorrow, we won’t be able to present it to the client, the client won’t pay, thus, we won’t be able to let you work here “. Besides, if a person realizes that he works in a good company, winning decent salary, having an ability to grow and develop, the fear to lose all this can be a good long-term motivation.
Point #5 – Interest in work
The best long-term motivation is an interest in work. For many specialists, for example programmers and analysts, having an interest in work and the question to solve is the most powerful motivation. In other words, these people already have the motivation, the manager has only to push them a little bit and to provide them with new interesting tricky tasks in order to keep this motivation. The manager can also try to find this interesting for their employees. It’s up to you to decide if this challenge worth spending precious time.
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