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Monday, July 4, 2011

Chapter 67: Motivating Your Team

Motivating your team is by far the most difficult task when it comes to managing a project. Every individual would have different priorities and goals. Motivating the team involves understanding what each member of your team wants/aspires and try to help them achieve their career aspirations.

Before we start discussing further, the more pressing question is “What is motivation?”

Motivation is an internal drive to meet a set of objectives. Internal drive is a state of unrest inside of you. This is how it goes. A need is a deficiency, an absence of something, a hole. Out of need arises the desire to fulfill the need. This desire or want represent dissatisfaction, which creates a state of unrest. This unrest is the drive. When drive is directed at a call for action to meet those objectives that will satisfy the need, it becomes motivation. In a nutshell, the need acts as a catalyst, like an enzyme in a biochemical reaction, that sets you on a journey toward meeting a set of objectives that will satisfy the need.

Let us take a simple example:
There are two people in your team. You and your colleague. The performance appraisals are just over. Your colleague got a Rs. 50,000/- performance bonus while you did not get any. Be frank and honest and tell me what you will feel at this point?
1. You will feel cheated
2. You will think why he got the bonus while you did not

For the next few days, your mind will be pre-occupied with these thoughts and inevitably affect your motivation to work effectively. This is low motivation.

On the other hand, your colleague is very happy that he got a bonus, he will start putting in extra hours, do more work than usual etc. This is high motivation.

If you want to achieve optimal results from your team, you create the appropriate drive in team members that will execute actions to meet project objectives; in other words, you motivate them.
Motivation to do some task plus the ability to do that task is equal to performance. So, lack of motivation means poor performance. In a project, motivation begins with you, the project manager. You must be motivated for the project and to motivate the project team members. It’s always a good idea to have some formal knowledge of something that you are going to go through.

Below are some theories related to motivation that might help you motivate and manage your team.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory

According to this theory, people have layers of needs, and until the lower-layer needs are satisfied, they will not move to satisfy the upper-layer needs. For example, if you are unemployed and broke, and as a result your very survival is in danger, you don’t care about buying health insurance or life insurance or dating to look for a life partner. The whole idea is explained in the picture below.

Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory

This theory classifies the factors needed to motivate people into two categories: hygiene factors and motivating factors. Hygiene factors are necessary for motivation but not sufficient; they do not bring satisfaction, but they prevent dissatisfaction. Some examples are compensation; company policies; level of supervision or ownership of the assigned work; relationship with superiors, subordinates, and peers; and working conditions. Motivating factors are factors that bring (or increase) job satisfaction. Some examples are challenging work assignment, opportunity for career advancement and accomplishments, opportunity for growth, sense of responsibility, and recognition. (Remember the Bonus example?)

McClelland’s achievement motivation theory

According to this theory, the following three needs motivate people:
Achievement - This is the need to perform well, achieve success, and get recognized for it. The key idea here is the drive to excel.
Affiliation - This is the need or desire for good relationships at work. You want to feel connected at work.
Power - This is the desire to move things, to influence people or events. The key term here is the world dominance or making a difference.

McGregor’s X-Y theory

According to McGregor, there are the following two types of managers:
Theory X managers - These managers believe that most of the people are self-centered, are only motivated by their physiological and safety needs, and are indifferent to the needs of the organization they work for. They (usually the team) lack ambition and have very little creativity and problem-solving capacity. As a result, they dislike their work and will try to avoid it. They will also avoid taking responsibility and initiative. There is one word to describe Theory X managers: distrust. They distrust their employees. These managers, therefore, tend to be authoritarian.
Theory Y managers - As opposed to Theory X managers, Theory Y managers trust their employees. They believe that most of the people are high performers in a proper work environment. This is because most of the people are creative and committed to meeting the needs of the organization they work for. Theory Y managers also believe that most people like to take responsibility and initiative and are self-disciplined. Finally, they also believe that most people are motivated by all levels of needs in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These managers tend to provide more freedom and opportunity for career growth.

Given the same team and same work environment, a Theory Y Manager’s team will perform better and deliver better quality work product than the team managed by the Theory X Manager. The reason is simple. People hate authority and in most cases rebel.

Expectancy theory

According to this theory, people are motivated only if they expect a desired outcome or reward. The key idea here is: What is in it for me? The desired outcome here has two components: Objectives will be met with this effort, and the performers will be rewarded.

This theory works almost all the time. If as the manager, you can understand what your team needs (like promotion, better roles, onsite opportunities etc) you can motivate them to work better in return for the rewards they expect. It's a win-win situation. You get good results and your team gets what they want.

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Next: Summary - Managing the Project Team

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