Whole books can be written about motivation and motivating people – so please do accept that this is very much an overview of the topic. However, having said that we are more than confident that here we’ll be able to give you the essential tips necessary to make sure that you, as a Project Manager, know all about what is required for and how to approach motivating your staff.

Why motivate staff.

A question to ask is just why should you need to motivate your staff if, to all intents and purpose, they’re working well and the project is progressing well. The answer to that is simply that any staff/personnel working on any job can always give that bit more or, put another way, will be working at least a little below their capacity. The way to ensure that they are all working to 100% capacity is through motivating them and that way you will also ensure that project productivity is truly maximized.

How to demotivate staff.

Just as important as knowing how to motivate staff is avoiding demotivating them. That means not being inconsistent, one day being all smiles and the next day all grumpy, asking team members advice and then completely ignoring it, expecting others to work late whilst you slip off for a round of golf – not to mention failing to give praise where and when it’s due.

Easy motivational techniques.

Conversely there are some very easy and basic motivational techniques you can apply. Motivation is concerned with the specifics of achieving a particular job and to do that you must set clear and concise objectives to be met, in order that the team(s) productivity levels are maximized. Staff are also more likely to be fully engaged in a project when they too can see the bigger picture of what is to be accomplished. So don’t unnecessarily restrict their access to the project but do involve them in decision making and value their input. Finally, for the moment, when maximizing productivity levels make sure that no one person or team is burdened with more that their fair share of work, nothing will demotivate staff quicker than them feeling they’re being overworked compared to others.

Individuals come first

Whilst it is essential to motivate your whole team, by far the easiest way to achieve this is by actually motivating the individuals first. As someone new to a project and being in the role of Project Manager, do not fall into the trap of believing that a few well chosen words or bonding sessions away from the project will motivate your staff. Sure, at the time you’ve giving the talk or engaging in the team building activities all the staff will be engaged and the feed back will be great but, unfortunately, such sessions do not motivate at a personal/individual level – and we all like to be treated as individuals.

Do your research

If you’re motivating individuals don’t think that one approach will suit all of the staff. You need to some research to find out what makes them tick as individuals. What gets them up in the morning, what do they hope to achieve through their work, where do they see themselves in the future? The answers to questions like that will fall into two categories – the intrinsic and extrinsic needs by which they are motivated. Most of us require a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to get the best out of us. Intrinsic ones could be something as simple as being praised for doing something well and extrinsic ones could be something like there being a clear bonus structure for meeting/exceeding targets etc. Find the ‘needs’ the of the individuals and you will soon be able to motivate them as individuals and, ultimately, galvanize them into a team.

Long-term motivation

With the best will in the world any motivational techniques and tactics you apply will need to be revised and re-visited, to maintain the motivation of your workers. This requires you to also formulate a longer term motivational plan to keep your staff motivated. Setting clear and achievable targets and expectations is one way to maintain motivation; as will giving staff the opportunity to take increased responsibilities for the work they do within the project.

Finally, having got the individuals motivated you can then turn to galvanizing them and motivating them as a team. This is the time for organizing staff treats to say well done if they’ve been prepared to work beyond their normal hours, perhaps by paying for them and their partner to enjoy a meal out. News of what’s available for those who go that extra mile will soon filter through. Or, you could now organize those informal staff occasions, again including partners, in things like an evening at a bowling alley or perhaps something like a karaoke bar?