Motivation: Crucial Project Management Skill

Motivation is one of the crucial soft skills in a project manager’s toolkit. A project team is only as effective as its least motivated member, after all. Successful delivery requires a team giving their everything. Soft skills often separate the game changer project manager from the pack. Motivation is one of those important project management skills that may not show up in school, but is imperative for success in today’s business environment.

A project team is only as effective as its least motivated member.

How do you motivate your team? You appeal to the motivation factor/s that drive/s them.

team motivation

Motivation Factors

There are different motivating factors that drive people to give their best.

  • Achievement: an intrinsic desire to accomplish things
  • Advancement: a desire to get ahead with a career
  • Autonomy: a desire to do things on our own
  • Personal growth: a desire to gain new skills, experiences, and behaviors
  • Recognition: a desire for praise
  • Responsibility: a desire to lead
  • The work itself: when the goal is seen as a worthwhile endeavor to create and accomplish

Know Thy Team

A good project manager knows his team. Firstly, you build your project team around their personalities and skill sets. Next, you actively build team cohesion, getting a feel for their dynamics. Finally, you optimize your task management, delegating tasks tailored to each team member’s talents and abilities. Motivation grows in the right environment where people can shine. Autonomy? Check. Responsibility? Check. 

Moving forward, you hardwire feedback into team communication. Review each team member’s work and performance regularly. Call out the shortcomings, but pay attention to the accomplishments and successes. Recognition – check. Achievement – check. Most importantly, feedback is not only crucial for motivation. Your team is  certainly the greatest source of information and data about the project, and about your project management skills. 

Talk to team members about the future, and especially their future. What do they want to do after the project ends? How do they see their career path? What are the skills they want to grow? Advancement – check. Personal growth – check. 

career advancement

Vision As Motivation

The great project managers know how to motivate their team to meet and exceed their goals. Rockstar project managers are transformational leaders. When a project manager successfully shares this vision with the team, they will be inspired knowing the future will be changed for the better by their work. This is “the work itself” motivating factor. A team with a vision is intrinsically motivated.

Vision can be the most powerful kind of motivation, because it isn’t about the individual. Even the nightmare team member, with the right vision, can become the model of going the extra mile. Vision is contagious, too. The team will get excited, and that excitement will spread to everyone working on the project.

Key Summary

Motivation is crucial for project management. Motivating your team means appealing to what drives them, and to do this, you must know your team. Create the right environment for your team to shine. Tailor their tasks to their strengths. Give feedback, and similarly, solicit feedback. Award recognition. Give autonomy and responsibility. Talk about advancement opportunities. Care about their personal growth. And provide a vision that inspires people about the future they are creating with their work.