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Motivate your Team

June 11, 2015
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You might have the best technology, the latest tools and a great client. But if the team is not in the right work mode, the project can go haywire. PMI conducted an online research and here are some findings on motivation -

A majority of Project Managers feel they are responsible for team motivation in the beginning of and towards the end the project

Source -

Lack of Top Management Support and Conflicts within the Team are the top reasons for low motivation as per project managers.

The project manager has to keep the team motivated to achieve the project objectives. Here are some ways to keep team members motivated to do their best -

Provide Growth Opportunities and Challenges

A person joins a company expecting to contribute significantly to the company and be an important member in the team. A team member should be made to feel important. He should be given tasks that challenge him. Too many monotonous tasks will lead to boredom and lack of enthusiasm in the role. A person should be given opportunities to grow in the role if he has shown capability/ability else he will be demotivated and not give his 100% to the task.

Set Clear Expectations

Employees need to be given properly defined responsibilities. They need to be given short-term and long-term goals that they have to achieve. It will be even better if the team member is involved while setting goals for him.  It is important to define what is expected from the team members. This will drive better performance and ownership. There will be no misunderstandings. If the goals are linked to performance incentives and appraisal, it is a great motivator. For example, in the operation theatre, there are a group of doctors and nurses working. Each of them has a specific role. One of them would be administering anaesthesia, another one would be monitoring key health parameters and a third would be performing the surgery. If this is not decided upon earlier, there could be confusion and lead to unpleasant results.For example, a test analyst's tasks can be defined as -

  1. Create test cases to test the entire functionality of the module.
  2. Create test cases to test the performance of the module
  3. Create test cases to test the User Interfaces
  4. Execute all test cases and log bugs to respective team members
  5. Create test data to all test cases

If the task was something like “Ensure the module works as expected”, he would not be very clear in knowing where his responsibilities start and where it ends.

Assign tasks as per skills and experience

Can you expect Sachin Tendulkar to play a badminton match and perform as well as he does in cricket? Similarly, each team member should be given tasks that match his skill set, capability and experience. If a person is given tasks that are too easy for him, he will be demotivated and feel he is not contributing enough to the project. If a person is given tasks much beyond his capability or not in the areas of expertise, he will be demotivated and this will result in non-productive work or absenteeism etc.

Make people feel appreciated and important

People want recognition and appreciation. It makes them feel good and also improves their interest level and productivity. The project manager can motivate his team by showing gratitude for a task well done or if a team member spent long hours fixing issues. If a team member has shown innovation in his task or developed a zero bug function, it should be announced to the team. The project manager should give a chance to team members to take initiative or implement new ideas in their tasks. They will feel empowered and be motivated to give their best.


It is important to have a direct and transparent communication lines with the team. The project manager should be clear in his communication whether it is project objectives, deadlines or changing scope. At the same time, the project manager should encourage open communication among the team members. The environment should be such that they are comfortable talking to the project manager and among each other on project matters. Crises and issues can be resolved by having frank discussions and approaching the right people to solve it.

Reward Good Performance

Anyone likes to get awards and rewards. Team members feel valued if they are rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments. A team member's self worth increases if his contributions are recognized. There can be small tokens of appreciation that can be given when certain milestones are reached or a team member achieves something significant.

Positive environment

The project manager should create a positive environment in the work environment as much as possible. He should have a positive attitude and create healthy competition among the team members. He should place trust in his team members. He should not bad mouth clients and top management. He should celebrate successes and foster team spirit. A positive environment makes team members look forward to get work done and deliver better results.


About the Author

Vidya Kumar is a management graduate with 14 years of experience in the IT industry managing complex Software Projects across various industry verticals. She has around 6 years experience in content development. She has co-authored two eBooks and writes regularly on personal finance, IT, travel and other business topics.


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