Ask any project manager, they always say that they are busy, and no time to take care about team. Along with the project success they need to take care about implementation of defined standards or processes, team motivation, training, team assessment, working with peers in acquiring more business, etc. If we observer, most of the responsibilities are related to each other.
A motivated team makes a project succeed; it helps in implementing defined standards and processes. A successful project leads to obtaining more business, etc.
This paper focuses on the importance of team motivation and how to build a good and responsible team.
A team can make or break a project’s implementation.
Being a project manager, I am here to share my experiences which might help other managers in managing their teams and making a project success. Following are a few points which I would like to discuss here.
Gather information about the team:
A manager has to gather both tangible and intangible information.
In many projects the team members join the project without any intervention of the project manager but it is the project manager who is responsible for the project’s success or failure. A manager might have gathered some information about the team members but the team is also intelligent enough to know manager abilities. Most team members will gather information about the project manager before joining the project, so manager need to be cautious as team comes with conceived notions.
Tangible Information: A manager should know about each and every team member’s previous projects, skills, interests, expectations, future plans, etc. It would be an added advantage if the manager knows about their personal priorities also, which will help in effective task delegation.
Subtle Information: The manager needs to work towards intangible qualities of a team member. A manager can gather these qualities by observing(only observing and not monitoring) their life style, body language, way of dressing, speaking, way of working, facial expressions, behavior, assertiveness, etc., and interact more often with the team (only with meaning full discussions) in an either planned or unplanned manner.
Having complete information about the team will help the manager to decide who needs what training and also task assignment. In one way this will reduce the project cost and increase the productivity. And in another way it will increase the intimacy between the team member and the manager. When the right time comes, the manager can use the hidden skills of the team.
The team has to get a feeling that the manager is more approachable.
I have two team members in team. Given a work one always looks for a shorter route to complete the work, and the other will study thoroughly and come to a solution. This kind of nature actually reflects in their lifestyle too. We need to consider these while assigning tasks.
Be aware of subgroups within the team:
The team members can be from different regions, technologies with different intentions and future plans. Whenever a new team is formed, usually people from same regions, with same interest or from same background and technology move together and form an opinion about the project as well as the project manager. But this is only the beginning, and the team is just in the forming state.
Having this information will help the project manager to know how the information is flowing (is it through a right media or not) and how the team is responding.
Identify the uniqueness of each team member:
A manager should know that each and every team member is unique. They will be having their own personal life, career plans and there might be a cause and expectation behind every one for joining the project. Each one will be very good in something or the other. Just imagine yourself in their place…as you have your own career plans and personal life, they also have the same.
This will help the manager to know the right motivation required for each and every team member as it differs from person to person. For example some team members get motivated with working in new technologies and some get motivated with monetary benefits and some with their position in the project.
A manager who can predict a team members behavior under certain situations and can delegate tasks effectively.
Share your work:
Manager has to categorize his work basically into 4 types.
Confidential and need immediate attention
Confidential but does need immediate attention
Not confidential but need immediate attention
Not confidential and does not need immediate attention.
Categories a & b cannot be shared to team members as they are confidential. Categories c & d can be shared among the team members based on the skills of team members. By implementing this, one way a manager get some breathing space and the other way the team feels that they are sharing project work.
Setting right goals, sharing goals:
Once the manager knew about the team, it’s time to set the right vision for each and every team member. A manager has to delegate roles, responsibilities and goals to each and every team member in such a way that the right work is assigned to the right person.
Goals can be different for the team members though they are working for the same project. Based on the capability, role and interest of the team member, different goals are set.
A manager can share some of his responsibilities to the team members which he feels appropriate. Suppose a manager has a goal of conducting 3 training in a stipulated period, he can assign share same goal to some of his team members who are interested in trainings. This way both the objectives will get satisfied.
If the right work goes to the right person, then you need not look back for productivity.
Use ego to team’s advantage:
Having a team with too many geniuses is a problem. Being confident is good ego, but being is overconfident is bad ego. A team member with good ego is more productive.
Smart people love challenges. Put the goal before the team and ask them to solve it. And then challenge them to do it. Big goals are common in design, engineering and research sectors; innovation fuels their drive.
Smart people like being around other smart people. They especially enjoy proving how much smarter they are than the others. So use this ego to the team’s advantage. Treat everyone fairly — but not necessarily equally. That is, the more one achieves, the more recognition he will receive.
Manager has to ensure that rivalries are only achievement-oriented, not personal Confidence is fine, but not over confidence. Make certain that everyone continues to feel part of the team.
Once there was a situation in my project where we need to evaluate a difficult tool, and don’t have any kind of help from the product owners. There was a smart team member in my team who prefers to work individually and not in team. Always he wants to prove himself. I assigned this task to him, and he proved himself!
Does any bad news become good over time if a manager is aggressive? NO. Manager need to find the ways to handle it soon.
Be careful of decision making and don’t let adverse facts defeat good decisions and don’t let anybody’s self-esteem comes in between. Remain calm under pressure and be kind to people. At the same time, be demanding of others. A good communicator knows when to speak and when to listen.
Whenever a team member is having any concern, listen to him/her completely and think from the team member’s perspective before taking any decision. Tf the manager is not bold then the team might misuse his/her trait. A manager has to develop the insight of knowing which the right request is and which is not.
Every manager must possess Emotional Intelligence and try to improve this skill constantly.
Encourage leaders in team:
Some people in our society are born leaders. Though they are not managers, they will have the leadership qualities. Some people in our society are just followers. The followers might be very good performers but they hesitate to take any new step on their own. They would just like to follow the leader. The manager should make sure that the leader’s steps should be profitable to the project. The manager must encourage the current leaders and ensure that the followers become future leaders.
E.g. If the leader wants to leave the company, he/she might inspire the other team members also to do so, which is a threat to the project. But if the leader wants to innovate something for the project then it might be advantageous for the team. So the project manager has to be very careful about these types of members. This type of information can be gathered mostly from observation and social network.
It is very important that the objectives of the project are correctly and equally understood by all the team members. Managers should maintain relationship with the team members to know their overall performance. It benefits manager to understand the personal side of team members, it is also important to facilitate or create conducive environment in the team to know and appreciate each other. Generally, appreciation by higher-ups is seen as a professional deed. An appreciation from your peer is seen as more genuine. If the manager can make this happen, he/she is well on their way to building a successful team.
Appreciate publicly and criticize privately. Make sure your acknowledgment does not demotivate other team members and everyone takes it positively.
Be a role model:
Most of us in our life are inspired by some one or the other. For me, my father is my role model as I grew up by observing his actions and behavior. Thus, “role model” is a behavioral function that encompasses how a person acts and responds to situations.
Long back, I completed a project with a team of 6 members successfully. After the project, the team said that “Whatever project you take care further, we all will join you. We would like to work with you again and again”
It is the highest honor that I have been paid in my professional career.
A project manager need to have good emotional intelligence, to be a role model, which is defined as acting in the proper manner during all occasions. This requires an awareness of one’s self to understand your emotions and how to respond in a positive manner to situations. Finally, one needs to manage relationships through awareness of one’s emotions and the emotions of others to successfully engage others.
Satisfying the team’s aspirations:
From the company’s perspective, a project needs to be successful. If the team is happy, then the future projects will be successful. For this, it is very important for the manager to take care of other aspirations of the team and also take care of their career plans.
In one way handling the team, and in another way dealing with higher management is also very important. The expenses or planning for these are not included in any project cost or in any risk management.
Assessing the team’s performance without bias:
The team needs an unbiased, consistent system of performance assessment. Nothing hurts positive motivation and morale more quickly than unaddressed problems or problems addressed inconsistently. Assess the team’s performance timely and update the goals if needed. Make sure the team members take the assessment positively and definitely the outcome will be positive. Make sure you and your team members are of the same opinion about their individual performances.
Schedule daily or weekly meetings with the team and ensure to get feedback on the project/projects’ tasks. You will be surprised how effective this tool can be in building employee motivation and morale. You can make their day.
However much you become close to the team members, you have certain responsibilities, and you have certain goals. As a manager you are not supposed to share any confidential news. Also make sure you do not share one team member’s information with the other team members.
Build network with the team:
Generally it happens that no team member would like to have lunch with their boss as they often speak/discuss about them only at lunch breaks, and the team will feel inconvenient if the boss is present with them for lunch.
Most of the information will be shared among team members at lunch and tea breaks, outings. Though this is normally unofficial information, at times there will be very valid information also. Try to have lunch with your team, if not regularly, at least a few days in a week, to build good relations with them. If the team really feels happy by your presence at their break time, then definitely you are moving in the right direction.
Have you ever seen team members working for their boss to complete work on time? They work just because they want to be associated with the manager. This comes only with trust.
Long back, when I was a team member, we were facing some problems in deliverables and getting tensed. Then my manager came and said that “Let’s work together. If it is a success, then we all will succeed, and if it is failed we all will fail. Let’s put our step forward”. His words inspired us and gave confidence which made our deliverable successful.
Project managers must build trust with the team through actions that demonstrate honesty and integrity. Honesty and integrity are vital traits to build upon through consistently upholding the truth. One lie can destroy future trust. Treat them like your family members, and let that family bondage develop between the team and yourself.
Don’t promise the things which cannot be done.
Project management is not as easy as we discuss it in our documents. It will either make or break a project. Express your trust in others through your actions and the team will also trust you. Good luck to all project managers, and I wish them to enjoy their project management.
Laxmi Vemaraju, December 2014