As a project manager, you’ve got to get the best from your team to meet goals and deadlines.
And you need to do so without formal management authority.
But do you wonder how to motivate your team to do their best work so your project is successful?
You need your team to meet deadlines and targets.
But if you’re not their functional manager, you need to know how to do so in ways that work.
And you don’t want to use threats.
Knowing how to keep team members happy and inspired is an important skill for long-term team and project success.
To help, I’ve compiled a list of various team motivation strategies to help keep your team performing their best.
Team members are individuals. What works best for one person may not be as important to another. And different approaches will work best in different situations.
There are many approaches you can use, and I’ve pulled together fifteen of them. Try different ones to at different times to inspire your team.
How to Increase Team Motivation
1. Celebrate Successes.
If you’re only getting visibility when things go wrong, your team will lose motivation. Give credit and visibility to successes and accomplishments, too.
Don’t wait for the final delivery of a two-year project before celebrating. Identify milestones along the way and celebrate those, too.
A celebration doesn’t need to be elaborate. Take the team to lunch. Bring in breakfast. Find creative ways to celebrate successes throughout project execution.
2. Find Growth opportunities.
Even if you’re not the boss, you can discuss ways for team members to develop skills further.
Find out what skills they’d like to develop. Explore opportunities such as cross-training or shadowing peers. Or speak with your manager about ways to further develop team member skills if they’d be valuable to the team.
Team members will appreciate the chance to continue their professional development.
Many companies use recognition programs to highlight and reward team member’s achievements. This same principle can work with your project team. If a team member has researched and found a way to address a pressing customer need that removes a project roadblock, give recognition for their effort and success.
Giving the team recognition for work well-done and accomplishments can give team members a sense of pride and let others know the great work going on in your team.
Send an email of praise to the team member and management giving recognition for the effort and accomplishment. If a team has managed to meet a tight deadline or worked through the weekend to hit a target, find ways to recognize the team for the effort put forth.
[bctt tweet=”Giving visibility to team members for hard work and accomplishments can help motivate your team to do their best work.” username=”leighespy”]
Increase team motivation and morale by collaborating on work. Sharing ideas and creating something together can strengthen the team and help them feel more connected.
Collaboration among team members can help them feel more connected. This is one way to increase team motivation.
Also, if a team member is struggling to complete a task, or facing a tight timeline, collaborating with others can help produce a good quality product faster.
[bctt tweet=”Collaboration among team members can help them feel more connected. This is one way to increase team motivation.” username=”leighespy”]
5. Be interested
Show a sincere interest in the work your team members do. Learn a bit about them as individuals and show you’ve paid attention. Find out if they have hobbies or special interests.
If their first-grade son is in a school play, ask about the performance. If they make pottery, ask more about their work and how they got into it.
They’ll appreciate that you recognize them as individuals with more than just a work life.
6. Connect work to the bigger picture.
Help the team understand how the work they’re doing impacts and contributes to larger organizational goals. It can give a sense of contribution at a higher level and more pride in the work.<
I once commented to my millennial-aged niece about media references to the fact that millennials want to do work that’s meaningful. Her immediate response was, “doesn’t everyone want that?” It’s true. Help your team members feel connected to a larger vision.
People want to do work that’s meaningful. Help team members see how their work contributes to a larger vision.
[bctt tweet=”People want to do work that’s meaningful. Help team members see how their work contributes to a larger vision.” username=”leighespy”]
7. Show integrity and honesty.
There are moments when it can pay off to be vulnerable with the team. If you feel frustrated or unsure of anything, being open about can build trust. It also gives the team permission to do the same.
8. Don’t waste time.
Your team members’ time is valuable. They don’t want to stay late trying to catch up on work they couldn’t get done during the day.
Respect their time. Use it wisely. Don’t call meetings that aren’t necessary. Don’t ask for work that doesn’t add value. This will frustrate your team and get in the way of other valuable work.
9. Be clear about expectations.
When you give your team ambiguous instructions, it’s confusing and frustrating. Be clear about what’s needed for your project, along with timelines and other important information.
Giving clear information helps your team deliver what’s needed without wasting time focusing on the wrong thing. It also avoids potential rework and more sunk time.
10. Don’t overwork team members.
Don’t overwork your team. Sure, there are times when the team needs to work longer hours. If you have an emergency request or high-priority project, the team may need to put forth extra effort.
However, this should not be how the team operates all the time.
Respect that team members need to have a reasonable workload. They should be able to take lunch breaks and leave work at a reasonable hour.
I have a friend who always makes a point to check and see how full the parking lot is at 7:00 pm when she’s interviewing at a company. If it’s a corporate location that doesn’t have a night shift, and the parking lot is still almost full that late, she takes this as a cue to investigate expected work hours for that company before deciding if she wants to accept an offer.
11. Get what they need.
If the team is encountering roadblocks to moving work forward, do what you can to help.
Escalate for additional support where needed.
For example, if a team member is working with large amounts of data on a small laptop, a larger monitor may make their work more comfortable. If end users are calling developers directly to ask to change project scope, step in to have communications go to the project manager instead.
These efforts to support your team will help with team motivation when encountering challenges.
If the team is encountering roadblocks to moving work forward, do what you can to help. Supporting your team when encountering challenges will motivate them to do their best.
[bctt tweet=”If the team is encountering roadblocks to moving work forward, do what you can to help. Supporting your team when encountering challenges will motivate them to do their best.” username=”leighespy”]
12. Show appreciation.
A small gift can be a fun and surprising way to show your team that you appreciate the work they’re doing towards the project.
Once, a co-worker stayed late to help me address a politically sensitive and urgent item that couldn’t wait. I wanted to show my appreciation for his help. I knew that he and his wife were wine drinkers so went to the store for guidance on an economical yet good quality bottle. They guided me to the perfect item and the next day I passed it on to my peer to say thank you for going above and beyond to help.
Even lower-cost items can work well, too. I’ve written a post dedicated to ways to say “thank you” to your team.
13. Get everyone involved.
Let your team members have a voice in decisions. Make sure they feel heard and have the ability to make contributions. They’ll feel more buy-in to the project and product more.
14. Team Building Activities.
Team building activities can help your team bond and build trust. Even small, easy team building activities at the start of your meetings can help if you’re bringing a group together for the first time. See this post for easy ideas:
15. Progress Monitoring to increase team motivation
Find ways to show metrics and progress toward your team’s goals. Making positive progress visible gives team members more motivation to keep up the good work. Showing people the progress of good behavior can drive more positive behavior.
This TEDx presentation by Tali Sharot explains this research, along with several other ways to drive behavior change. Social incentives and immediate rewards, along with a sense of control, can all play a strong role in motivating team members toward desired behavior changes. Start around the 8-minute mark to get right to the behavior descriptions.