Päivi Kähönen wrote in her blog about motivating project teams. As I read it, I started thinking about why motivation is so important, and can we even affect our own motivation, let alone the motivation of others? We always have some motivation to work, or do anything, really. So everyone who comes to their first project meeting, has some motivation to be there. I believe in inner motivation, but at the same time, I believe in inspiring thoughts or that catchy positivity, that can pique new ideas or rouse slumbering motivation. Someone might be motivated by curiosity, a chance to learn something new, someone else is motivated by getting things done and overcoming challenges, or something in between. Motivation guides you to the things you find meaningful. Well, then what? Can some project motivate all the members of the team, or can they be motivated by anything else but themselves? I believe they can, at least to a certain point. You can’t give or pour motivation on anyone’s head, but you can rouse the inner motivation. Päivi mentioned clear ownership, tools, knowhow and feedback among other things.
Simple way to motivate is to give positive feedback and acknowledge accomplishments, personal and team efforts both. Environment that is fair and open to ideas, is not going to kill the motivation anyway. Inner motivation can be guided to give everyone the amount of challenge and versatility they require. Allowing people to work at their own terms, polishing the biggest goals and objectives. From my own experience, I know how rewarding it is when you are able to work to your strengths, feel you are capable and skilled and learn something new in the process. Don’t forget social motives (belonging to a certain group and getting the feeling you are getting along) either. This is where working as a group and creating team spirit comes along, as Päivi mentioned.
Project manager should recognize and acknowledge the meaning of motivation, it’s individuality and of course their own methods in this. I think it’s all about balance, figuring out different methods (for example, to guide or not to guide the operation). It’s not always going to be spot on. Only by getting to know the people, one can do better. For a very independent and spontaneous person, constant cheer might start to feel like coddling. Encouraging people to use their own brain, however, might prove worthwhile instead.
In addition to outside motivation, I would also concentrate on cherishing inner motivation. I challenge us to go through motivation speeches in front of the mirror. Do I find inner motivation to the things I do, do I share it or am I a Dementor? What is it that I bring with me to a project meeting? Recognizing motives and motivation is not always easy, even with yourself. Sometimes, some project that makes you feel you’ve succeeded can be the key to finding this. And finally, maybe the most important question: Why do we need to even talk about motivation? Inner motivation can lead to resilience, better results and finally well-being. Project manager’s role is to be an enabler (it is possible to do the work) and a treasurer of inner motivation. Experiencing meaningfulness is an inner process in us all. Through meaning, becomes motivation.
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