One of the challenges of project management is finding the right balance of motivation for individuals and teams to deliver.

I am often asked about team motivation, especially when things are tough and deadlines are tight or even when things are slow and the team is in a holding pattern waiting to get things going.

The first place to look is at yourself as manger or leader. Your state of mind, attitude and emotions are passed on to your team. Self awareness comes to the fore at this point.

The team will take their lead from you. How do you go in everyday and lead by example?  Your behaviours, approach and energy, in itself will be passed on to some of your team members.

Additionally, recognition of the team will provide nurture for the team and support growth. 

Influences from within

Each team member needs to be self aware and needs to understand their own triggers. 

Additionally, the team itself needs to understand how they affect each others both positively and negatively.

Over time the aim is to build a supportive culture within the team that helps to bring people who are not as focused up.

Supporting building the teams knowledge of themselves and each other empowers them to manage their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, reducing the dependency on the manager / leader.

External Influences

There are a number of ways that external influences motivate us. We have already spoken about the manager / leader and other team members.

Examples of external motivation include;

  • Awards 
  • External experts (visits or trips to see)
  • Additional Learning that benefits
  • Team celebrations
  • Opportunities for development / talent management / inclusion in succession plan
  • job rotations
  • job exchanges
  • Thank you from Senior Management
  • Team building events
  • Financial recognition

The greatest reward  for doing 
is the opportunity to do more.

Jonas Salk

Science of the brain tells us that as human beings we seek out novelty. 

If I look back through my career, the best times have been when when I have been rewarded with an opportunity because of the work I have been doing. From grabbing these opportunities I have varied challenges and worked in many different countries and culture.

Science of the brain tells us that as human beings we seek out novelty. That means new ideas, activities, sights and sounds. Novelty is linked to learning and the learning that we achieve can be used to our advantage. There is a specific part of the brain linked to novelty which changes when something completely new is introduced to us. A chemical called 'dopamine' is released.

The reaction is not the same when something different but similar is introduced, it has to be completely different.  

The chemical released is not a reward, it is a chemical that motivates us to look for something else novel as that 'new' experience can bring its own rewards. 

If we use this knowledge with our individuals and teams then we can add novelty to our external list of tools. We can introduce new topics, tool-sets or approaches. New environments also work.

Re-focusing the  development plan 

Keeping this in mind, we can look at individual development plans. For areas of development we can then identify roles, activities and events that provide the required learning experiences mixed with novelty.

This information can be fed in to our resource management, learning strategies and succession planning to produce higher motivation and increased engagement.

Managing in this way will maximise the learning experience of individuals and also mean that they are less likely to have missed opportunities.

Our lives are defined by opportunity,
even the ones we miss.

F.Scott Fitzgerald.

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