At the beginning of the project, project team members are usually excited about the work. The team is getting to know each other, and they are becoming more comfortable with their respective roles. For the most part, the project is being defined, which means that the hardcore work has yet to begin.
However, after the planning phase, the work is assigned and due dates are established. In other words, the pressure is now on. Team members now have a clear idea regarding the complexity of the work, and the time it will take to get it done.
The project manager must ensure the team members stay motivated. The team members might need funding, removal of obstacles, or just a pat on the back. By being engaged, the project manager is more likely to step in and help the team stay on track.
Here are three strategies to keeping the team energized:
#1: Make sure the goals are clearly defined.
When setting project goals, the SMART approach is recommended. That is, goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Without goals, we can expect the team to lack motivation. We can establish goals for an individual and for the entire team. The team members should be a part of the SMART goal setting process. Their input will lead to buy-in.
#2: Reinforce the reason for the project.
I’ve been a part of projects that succeeded and some that failed. While projects fail for many reasons, one major cause is lack of vision. The project manager must serve the role of a leader, which means that the vision is communicated to the team members.
How do we share the vision? We need to focus on the end result. In other words, it’s our job as project managers to paint the picture. If our project consists of building a new fuel-efficient car, we make sure to have a picture of the shiny environmentally safe car on the wall. A big picture and on several walls! Knowing what the final product looks like keeps the team focused on getting the work done.
#3: Show that care.
As silly as it sounds, we need to act like we care about the people and the project. A project is unique, which means that we are often creating something that did not exist before. The work we’re doing is different from day-to-day operational work. Thus, we’re constantly facing and overcoming challenges. We need to recognize the commitment made by the team members.
Motivation is fragile. It’s true that some people will stay focused on the project work without requiring motivation; however, this is the exception and not the norm. I find that my projects do much better when I’m involved with the day-to-day activities. The presence of the project manager makes a notable difference.
By having a plan, we can identify the milestones. In other words, we confirm that we’re heading in the right direction, and we know when it’s right to celebrate. If a roadblock presents itself, the project manager works to remove it. Finally, and perhaps most important, the team is more likely to believe in the project if the project leadership team is visible.
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