Part I: Creating Teamwork Motivation
Teamwork motivation is not only one of your most important roles as a leader and a project manager, it is also likely to be one of the roles you find the most challenging.
Interacting with your team requires an entirely different skill as opposed to managing tasks, events, and processes. You cannot rely on rational and logical thinking alone but must draw on interpersonal skills such as listening, relating, encouraging, supporting and empathizing.
One of the best ways to create teamwork motivation is to find out what motivates each team member and what will enable him or her to do their job even better. To find out the answer, and to tap into your team members’ strongest sources of energy, you need to spend time with them, understanding who they are and what makes them tick.
You must value each person’s contributions and do your utmost to make use of their individual strengths. When you align people’s individual aims and purposes with that of the organization and project, you will be in an ideal position to create a highly motivated team.
Some of the things that motivate your team members may be relatively easy to implement and will have a big impact on performance—for example, giving a certain person more challenging work and playing better to his strengths.
Another team member might want your support and backing to promote a certain initiative on behalf of the team, while a third person would be much more motivated if she were allowed to work flexible hours. These are all things you can control and can make an effort to implement.
To emphasize your role as a motivator – and to become aware of what you can do to improve team motivation – answer the below questions as honestly as you can.
Pose these Questions to Increase Teamwork Motivation
When your answer to a question is “yes”, provide examples to back up your response.
– Am I spending sufficient time with everyone on my team? (give examples
– Do I praise people when they do a good job? (give examples)
– Am I aware of everyone’s strengths?
– Do I use people’s strengths effectively?
– Do I give people the level of support and the tools they need to succeed?
– Do I delegate tasks completely when people are capable of working autonomously?
– Am I working to improve each person’s confidence and motivation?
– Do I know how each team member would like to be recognized and rewarded?
– Do I empower people to implement new ideas?
– Do I foster a culture of open communication, learning, and development?
– Do I set clear performance expectations?
– Do I share the project’s vision, roadmap, and priorities with as much passion and insight as I possibly can?
– Do I involve team members in the decision-making process?
How many of the above questions could you convincingly answer yes to?
Which areas stood out as needing attention? In which ways can you work to improve your team’s motivation and performance?
Next, we will look at more areas to focus on when creating a highly motivated team.
Part II: Teamwork Motivation based on Aligning Meaning and Purpose to Work
At the most fundamental level, team members will only be truly motivated if they work on projects that have meaning and purpose, and that give them a sense of achievement and satisfaction. People fully engage when their individual aims and purposes are aligned with their job. They need to feel that their core personal values are being fulfilled by the work they do.
People have different values, aims, and purposes, and what motivates one might not motivate another. Money and status motivate some people, while others are more driven by the chance to be creative and innovative. Some people flourish in highly collaborative environments, and others need a quiet space to produce their best work. Some people love change and new challenges, whereas others prefer certainty and stability. The list goes on. There are as many combinations of motivational factors as there are people.
The questions you need to ask are:
1. What motivates each person on my team?
2. What will enable them to do what they do even better, and
3. How can I best utilize each person’s strengths?
Spend quality time with people
The only way to find out what the values and qualities of your team members are is to spend time with them. It sounds simple, yet many managers don’t invest the necessary time to fully understand the human capital of their team as they are too focused on getting immediate tasks and assignments completed.
All you need to do is to set time aside for one-on-one catch-ups with your team members (or team leaders) on a regular basis – and stick to it! Ask people what matters most to them in their work and what they like about it. Listen to their views without interrupting and seek to understand what their unique talent, aspirations and career goals are.
When you genuinely listen, you will find out what truly motivates people and what you can do to create synergy between personal and professional goals. Then provide them with work that plays to their strengths and adjusts the environment to suit each person where possible. This will help them become high performers on your project.
Imagine your team members were volunteers
Another powerful thing you can do is to play with the idea that all of your team members were volunteers. Imagine that they are giving up their personal time to work on your project but that they are not being paid for it. Close your eyes now and visualize how that would be. Imagine that even though they receive no income for the work they do, they would still do it because it would fulfill them in other ways.
In which ways could you motivate your team to work even if they got no income for it?
1. On a blank piece of paper make a list of all your team members or team leaders.
2. Write down at least 10 strengths for each team member or team leader.
3. Write down at least 10 things that motivate each person.
4. For each person, note down 3 changes you can make to the work they do which would increase their motivation and commitment.
Part III: 10 Tips to Create a Highly Motivated Team
Below, I offer 10 tips that you can implement at a team level to further create and increase teamwork motivation and foster a highly motivated team.
1. Create a high-trust environment
People perform best in high-trust environments where they feel safe, secure, and respected by you and other people around them. So prioritize your team members and show them that their welfare is important to you. The worst thing you can do is to ignore your team, mistrust it, or criticize its members.
2. Praise people for a job well done
People respond well to praise, encouragement, recognition and being thanked. When you let others know that they are appreciated, they will want to give you their best. Be generous with praise for a job well done, and say thank you when someone helps you or does something for the team.
3. Act as a mentor rather than a micromanager
Encourage and empower team members to research problems and make decisions on their own. Avoid micromanagement. Mentor them and lead them on the way rather than telling them what to do. Adjust your level of direction depending on how capable each person is to work independently. When you give away some of your power your team will take on more responsibility and will be motivated to grow and learn.
READ ALSO: Are you Micromanaging? STOP IT. See Why
4. Encourage a culture of communication and contribution
Every person has ideas and opinions they want to share and communicate. Set up forums and initiate activities to give your team members a chance to share their knowledge and contribute to the project. Welcome feedback at all levels and show appreciation of good ideas by taking action and implementing them.
5. Hold regular team meetings
Hold regular team meetings where you share the outcome of board meetings and major decisions that affect the project’s direction, goals and vision. Remember, that every interaction with the team is an opportunity to listen and to strengthen your working relationship. It is also a great opportunity to motivate and inspire people, so make sure you speak with passion and confidence.
6. Pick your battles, and forgive small mistakes
We all make mistakes, whether we see it or not. No one is perfect. Depending on the nature of a mistake made by a team member, consider letting it go with just a small comment or no comment at all. If someone has ever let you off after you made a small error, you know how motivating it can be to have another opportunity to justify that person’s faith in you.
7. Hold people accountable for serious mistakes
Be brave and confident enough to hold a team member accountable for bigger mistakes or behavior that is detrimental to the project. Provide feedback to the team member as soon as practical and base it on facts. Be as specific about the problem as you can and give concrete examples of why you are concerned. The more specific you are, the more likely it is that the team member will receive your feedback as it is intended.
8. Establish clear performance standards and expectations
Make sure that every team member has clear and attainable goals and that everyone knows exactly what needs to be accomplished. Make the goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely), and strive to align them with the team members’ personal aspirations. A goal will only be truly motivating and engaging if it is linked to the individual’s aims and purposes.
9. Provide good tools and facilities
Do your best to make sure that team members have an optimal working environment and that the tools and information they need are available. Put yourself in their shoes. Which tools, facilities, and information would you need if you were doing what they do? Ask the team for feedback. What is working and what is not? What would help them work more effectively?
10. Give team members training and education
Projects often require people to work in domains they do not know much about. Organize training and knowledge-sharing programs for your team. Ask the end-users or business owners to talk about their jobs and the business. These presentations will increase the team’s knowledge, improve motivation, and contribute to the successful delivery of the project.
Reflection: On a scale from 1-10, how would you score yourself on each of the ten motivational tips above? What can you do to improve the way you motivate your team?
We are happy to hear your thoughts and input on teamwork motivation and encourage you to share your comments below.
Susanne Madsen is the author of the award-winning book: The Power of Project Leadership – a great source of knowledge about project leadership.