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motivating project teams


They seem to have trouble in keeping their project teams motivated until the end of the project and have problems in keeping people on board throughout the life of the project. Has anyone got any ideas for this type of motivation sessions?
laura gallagher

6 Responses

  1. an anecdote and a possible answer
    Hi Laura
    If the project team can’t see the value in the “business case” for the project, this could be causal to a lack of motivation. Assuming that a robust business case exists (!) it may help to reiterate it on the basis of the swamp and the alligators.

    Alternatively, an anecdote.
    I was doing a teambuilding session with a dysfunctional project team (“I don’t have a team, I have inherited a group of egos”-their team leader!)…we did a Belbin Team Roles assessment and I got them to put their 1st and 2nd preferences up on a roles grid on a flipchart….the team didn’t have a single completer finisher.
    They didn’t need to have me explain why they had failed to deliver on their past three projects; everyone ran ou of motivation about three quarters of the way through the job!

    I hope this helps

  2. Communication, communication, communication
    This is quite a common problem with public administration staff. I got over it on a project by having a very regular newsletter that was sent to the project team plus all the stakeholders.I also found that moving people to new tasks on a regular basis helped a lot. Some PA work can be very repetitive and then boring.

  3. Some ideas …
    Hi Laura, a couple of thoughts from me supplementing the ideas already supplied:

    Fairly regular socialising always helps, such as relaxed team meetings with food or finishing in the pub; finish an hour or so earlier once a month to go for a late lunch or drink.

    Are milestones used to appraise achievements to date? Sometimes it’s very easy to get so bogged down in the daily grind that highlights pass by without any pat on the back. Regularly appraising the good stuff does wonders.

    Is there an in house newsletter or an intranet publicising organisational what’s on? Can these be used to keep the organisation updated on project progress, successes, etc.? The payroll project I was recently involved with produced a newsletter on a quarterly basis to keep the company updated on progress and of course, our successes!

    Are there any incentives to keep going until the end of project, e.g. bottle of champagne for each project team member on successful project completion?

    Echoing what Rus said, Belbin team role profiling is really excellent. Are team tasks being moved around? Are people doing the same tasks over and over again? Where individuals lack experience with some team tasks this provides an excellent opportunity for development and therefore, a chance to stretch their skills.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  4. Thoughts
    Agree with all previous comments. Also, you could consider looking outside the team, to ensure that members’ line managers support the member in contributing to the team and accord it some respect in terms of priorities, workloads etc.
    Hope this helps

  5. Thank you
    I have recently been involved in a very high profile project where the management team were delighted to be able to celebrate great success to both the Project Board, Programme Board and Board of Directors and they got many plaudits for achieving the objectives of the project.

    The Project Executive has not even been into our office to say ‘Thanks’.

    I find that management acknowledgement of the work of the project team (and ‘thanks’ every now and then) is one of the best ways of motivating a long-standing team.

    I also regularly run Belbin team days (ran one yesterday, in fact) and I agree with all the other comments about its usefulness. Remember, though that people tend to focus on their preferred role(s) rather than utilising their manageable roles within a team – may be worth looking at moving them around.

    Good luck with it.

  6. motivation
    Very good comments. Just to add my experience.

    You need motivate them using both internal and external incentives.

    Internal: As stated, get them to socialise, have new dimensions than just work. Research shows that people who know more about each other’s personal life are usually more willing to help and get out of their way to help each other which in turn can smooth everything out.

    I have first hand experience of good teams eventually falling apart because all they did was work. They were enthusiastic to begin with, but never went out together, there was no regular trip to the pub after achieving a milestone and so on. The group simply disintegrated and all eventually left the company after a few years!

    External: The world is an exciting place. Knowing who you are competing with and why is quite a huge incentive for people. On the other hand if they think their work is worthless, is not having any impact, they wont be bothered to waist their time. Might as well browse the web. Hence, get them to see the result of their work and show them the impact. You may need to consciously spend money and time so that they see themselves in the grand scheme of things. For example, send technical people to conferences & exhibitions to present their work. They get satisfaction on showing their own work, and get motivated to compete with whoever else. Of course you need to match such activities to the roles.


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