For the last installment in the PM Network extravaganza, there is an article on keeping project teams motivated that caught my attention, written by Simon Kent.
The article reminded me of a previous post I wrote back in February, 2007 titled Motivational Theory in Project Management where I laid out some of my thoughts on the topic, specifically in relation to Frederick Hertzberg’s work.
The PM Network article is mostly in line with Hertzberg. Instead of focusing on theory or concepts, the article mostly cites specific examples of how various project managers motivate their teams and keep them that way. I enjoyed the experiential approach to the topic.
Jonathan Bowman cited monetary rewards, and he’s right in saying that you have to be careful how that is done. Team-wide bonuses for early completion or coming in under budget are good ways of doing this. Hertzberg cites monetary compensation as a hygiene factor, not a motivator, and I am inclined to agree with him. Money can be used as a force for recognition however, if directly linked to accomplishments. Personally, I would stay away from giving individual bonuses for project performance. This could provide incentives for people to excel or look good at the expense of someone else and/or the project objectives and/or the company as a whole. Instead, accomplishment should inform the performance review process and have their relevant impacts on monetary rewards.
Here are some of the techniques brought out in the article that I especially agree with:
- Create a team area for co-located projects. Do some banners and sit people who are on the project next to each other whenever possible. This fosters communication and can help create a better team atmosphere.
- Create a learning experience. This one I really enjoyed. It speaks to leveraging strengths of your team members, while assigning them a supporting role in some other area they are interested in learning more about. This way, they can learn without creating undue risk and stress that would come from just assigning them responsibility for something they unexperienced with.
- Use a monthly ‘team barometer’ to gauge how things are going on the project. Joli Mallick, PMP offered this up, and I think it’s a fabulous idea. It’s such a good idea, I’d like to throw out some of my thoughts on how to implement it:
- Exactly 3 targeted questions, no more, no less.
- Completed monthly via a website or survey tool of some kind.
- No multiple choice. All free-text.
- The questions are generated by the head project manager, with input from subordinate project managers and leads.
- The questions change throughout the project. Using the same questions over and over is boring and irrelevant. A team member gets the sense their feedback is actually being used if the questions are original each month. This shouldn’t be a tracking tool to measure communication performance or something. It’s a direct feedback mechanism for actively managing projects day-to-day.
- Use a monthly status meeting to review the results and discuss the problems and solutions.
Something like the above would take a few hours each month to administer, analyze, and communicate. It would be worth it though. This is like a Delphi method session each month to highlight the biggest problems and concerns on the project as early as possible. The time spent should not be difficult to justify.
About the author
Josh Nankivel is a Project Planning & Controls Control Account Manager and contractor for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. His academic background includes a BS in Project Management, summa cum laude. He can be found writing and contributing in many places within the project management community, and his primary project management website is located at pmstudent.com.