Motivating Employees to Successful Project Work

motivate people in project work

4 People Management Strategies Critical to Project Success

There are many reasons why projects fail. These include:

  • A lack of planning
  • A lack of resources
  • A lack of executive sponsorship
  • A lack of understanding how the project aligns with a company’s business strategy
  • A breakdown in communication

Project managers have a serious job to do to ensure that a project achieves its expectations. They must work with a variety of project stakeholders, including customers, project team members, line managers and senior managers. To keep all these people motivated is a tough job. But perhaps the toughest job of all is to maintain motivation among employees. Much of the responsibility for this rests on the shoulders of a company’s leadership, senior and middle managers, and, of course, project managers.

People want to know why project work is being undertaken, and how it impacts them and their future. Here are four ways in which a company and its project managers can keep employees motivated in the projects it undertakes.

Ensure the Project Is Desirable

People do things because they want to do them and not because they must. Projects that are forced on employees rarely achieve their goals. It sometimes looks like they have, but disengaged employees will soon revert to their old ways.

To combat resistance, it is crucial that employees understand how a project will benefit them and their team. It is essential that they see the connection between the project and the company’s business goals. These realities will give the project deeper meaning, and make it desirable to employees as well as to the boardroom.

Ensure That Project Goals Are Achievable

A project that is seen as unachievable will quickly lose support. Why strive to do what cannot be done? When employees lack belief, they lack motivation. Tasks will be attempted half-heartedly, and any small failure will only serve to confirm what the employees ‘already know’ – that effort is futile.

One way to get over this is to break projects into smaller, more manageable milestones. Smaller targets are more likely to be achieved, and each success reinforces commitment to the overriding project objectives.

Recognise Progress

Motivation is not a one-time exercise. Motivation must be constantly and continuously nurtured. A key tool to achieve this is recognition of success. As the team progresses toward milestone goals and as milestones are hit, it is important to recognise these achievements. Let the team know how far they have come, and the excellent progress they have made. Recognition helps to drive the enthusiasm that pushes a team to take the next steps.

Reward Hard Work

Teams and individuals should be rewarded when they achieve their goals. You should also consider rewarding effort, enthusiasm and creativity. Rewards don’t have to be big, and they don’t have to be expensive. But they should be personal and motivational.

Consider the employee who never expresses their opinion or ideas. Then, out of the blue, they ask to see you to discuss an idea they have had to improve a process. You think the idea has legs. Ask the employee to put a bit more detail to the idea, in writing. Discuss it in a team meeting, and then put it into action.

When it is successful, ensure that you praise the employee for the idea. Let others know how much it means that the idea was put forward – and watch the employee’s esteem grow, and the team’s motivation flourish.

Project Management Is People Management

Though most project management strategies focus on the process of project work, the most successful projects are completed when the ‘p’ in project management is focused as much on the people involved and impacted as the process required by the project management framework. Good project managers understand this, and those companies that follow this rule will undertake more successful projects.

For project management and project management training that motivates your employees, contact Your Project Manager:

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