Motivation techniques for project managers

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

The most successful projects are those built upon strong foundations of smooth relationships and efficient practices. Many top b2b marketing agencies will tell you that. However, those things alone are not enough to ensure that your project reaches completion successfully and on time. As a project manager, your success relies heavily on your team and how well they work together to stay on track. Your project is much more likely to be a success if every one of your team members commits to it so keeping your force motivated is of the highest importance.

If your team is not motivated, then work can stutter and stall and even come to a halt altogether. Unmotivated people won’t go that extra mile you need them to in order to meet deadlines and tackle tricky problems. It is important to remember however, that motivation is a personal choice; you cannot force someone to be motivated you can only provide the tools for them to motivate themselves.

So here are some tips and techniques to help you, as project manager, to motivate your team so that you can all reach your goals together.

Place plenty of emphasis on the benefits to be had

While it is true that many of your team members may have agreed to work on your project simply because it’s their job or they have been instructed to do so, you will find that you will receive a much stronger commitment from a person if they can see the benefits the completed project will bring. Identify the benefits of your project to your organisation, your clients and importantly, your colleagues and then lay those benefits out clearly when discussing your project with your team. If you are managing a team who recognise and identify with the end goal and can see, as well as desire, the benefits then you are much more likely to reach your project completion on time.

Establish team and individual goals

Project managers are often very good at setting team goals for the entire group to work towards but often forget that individual goals often illicit much more motivation from your team members. Human beings are innately selfish and so the chance to shine on an individual basis often plays a much bigger role when it comes to motivation than the idea of achieving a goal as a team. Individual goals and targets also allow your team members the opportunity to develop personally and, so you may find that by setting these types of goals, you also end up boosting performance levels within your team.

Don’t look too far ahead

No matter how enticing the rewards your project may bring, if they feel too far out of reach to your team then you are likely to see a drop in motivation pretty early on. When aims and goals don’t appear obtainable or feasible, people become much less likely to try and reach those goals. Your project may begin to get behind as a result and this will only serve to demotivate your team even further. Think about setting intermediary targets and short-term goals to help keep your project on track. At the completion of each goal your team will feel a sense of pride and achievement which will boost morale and motivation to keep going through to the end of your project.

Start with yourself

As the saying goes; “start as you mean to go on”. As project manager you need to set a good example. Your team will look to you to set the tone of the project and if you give off the impression of being unenthusiastic, bored or like you are just going through the motions then your team are unlikely to feel particularly motivated. Before you even begin the planning of your project, ensure that you are suitably prepared. Have a strategy in mind so that you can offer positive advice and suggestions to your team and do your research on the people you will be working with so that you can get a feel for how your team will gel together. Extra qualifications, such as APMG Project Planning and Control courses, are a fantastic way to make sure that you are fully prepared with the most current best practices for project managers and achieving this qualification will instil confidence in your project management skills.

Let your team know how they are doing

Rather than waiting until the completion of your project to offer personal reviews and feedback, hold informal and friendly individual reviews throughout all stages of your project. This will give you a chance offer praise for team members who are performing well. This praise will act as a great motivator as people enjoy having their hard work recognised. Regular casual meetings with your team members are a great way for a project manager to keep their team motivated and on the ball.

Reward a job well done

Everyone likes to feel appreciated and that their hard work has been noted and appreciated and what better way to do this than by rewarding it. Small tokens of thanks can be presented to team members when you hit intermediary or individual goals such as chocolates or buying that team member their lunch. You don’t have to go all out as often being singles out and praised is enough to give someone that motivational boost they need. Being rewarded for their work may also encourage your team members to put themselves forward for projects in the future, which is good to bear in mind if you have particularly enjoyed working with certain team members or you can see yourself valuing a person’s skills again on another task. You can save the big rewards for the day your project is successfully completed.

Motivation is the key so a successful project and as project manager, it falls down to you to ensure that your entire team is motivated. Implementing these tips will give your team members all the tools they need to bring their A-game each and every day until your project has been completed.

This post is part 4 of 5 in the series Successful Project Management

About the author /

Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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