Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, a team loses its enthusiasm for a project. Maybe the project has gone on too long. Perhaps the client is difficult or unpleasant. Or maybe your team is overworked and under stress.
No matter the reason, your project is in danger. Unhappy teams tend to produce substandard work. But what can a Project Manager do to lift his team’s spirits so that they can give their best effort?
Here are four strategies that go beyond the usual “Inspire and Reward” approach.
Strategy #1: Change the world together
Team members tend to get caught up in the minutiae of coding, sketching, bug-hunting, etc. While their narrow view helps keep them focused, they need a little perspective once in a while. Make sure to set a vision for your project and how it’s going to change the world or least your organization. Then share this vision with everyone on your team. Remind them of the importance of their task and how it fits into the big picture. Login pages might not be the sexiest of assignments, but what use is an intranet site if nobody can get inside?
Strategy #2: Forget about rewards and bonuses
The “carrot-on-the-stick” philosophy might have been used to motivate people for centuries, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best strategy.
Here is some food for your thoughts:
One day an old man saw that kids started playing soccer next to his house. Naturally he was worried about the safety of his windows and the noise.
The old man knew he could not force them to stop. So, instead he offered them 5 dollars to play near his house. It was no-brainer for the kids and they agreed. He did the same thing for the next couple of days.
Then on the fourth day, the old man told them he was sorry but he could only pay them 1 dollar. The kids were not happy but took the money and kept playing. The fifth day, the old man announced he could only pay 10 cents, but he would really love them to keep playing. The kids called him a cheapskate and left. He never saw them again.
It’s a well-established fact that intrinsic motivation works much better than the extrinsic one. This also applies to project management. So stop just giving out bonuses and make sure your team really cares about what they do.
Strategy #3: Go watch a movie
Sometimes team members just need a break from the grind.
Whether it’s an internal Tekken tournament or a catered barbecue, getting away from the keyboard is an excellent way to charge up the batteries. Why not just pick a movie and take everyone on your team to the nearest theater. And yes, I’m talking business hours here.
Strategy #4: Lead by Example – Clean a Toilet
A Project Manager is a leader, first and foremost. This means that you have to act as an example to your team. While you don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) the best coder, designer, or SEO expert, you do have to be able to walk the walk, roll up your sleeves, and dive into the project yourself.
Joel Spolsky tells a great story about his army sergeant major showing him how to clean a toilet, thus giving a lesson in real leadership.
While I’m not suggesting you follow his example literally, you need to show your project management team how far you’re willing to go to get things done.
It’s important to remember that teams are composed of people with their own motivations, desires, and needs. As a Project Manager, your job is to understand your team and their potential, and do everything in your power to make sure they reach it, whatever it takes!
Do you have your own unusual recipes for team motivation? Please share away!