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How To Motivate Team in a Project

Today, we will talk about how to lead a team in project management. To motivate the team in a project, the product manager needs to have some tricks under his sleeves. That’s why it needs years of experience and specific knowledge.

Leading a team becomes a basic competence of a qualified project manager. In nowadays projects, individualistic heroism doesn’t get praised. An excellent project team requires not only an excellent project manager as a leader but also a bunch of excellent and cooperative people as members. Only in this way, the team can finish the project excellently. Therefore, an important duty of the project manager is to motivate team members and fully exploit their strengths. The goal is for the project team to operate efficiently and stably.

1. As a New Project Manager

I worked for my company for many years and became excellent technical expertise. I was ignorant of project management. Though because of my technical skill, I got promoted as a Project Manager. Arrogant was what would describe me, once I had a little power on my hand. But as the project progressed, I faced several serious issues when it came to team management.

First, several colleagues of mine were not motivated. They entered the company in the same year as I did. They had the same years of experience as me. But due to other factors, I was in charge of that project. They were bothered and used it to their own advantage. Sometimes they worked passively, which made my job as a project manager harder.

Second, there had been severe estrangements between clients and other functional teams, and between functional teams and project teams, which made the project enslaved of multiple parties of stakeholders. This issue leads to the project falling behind schedule.

Lastly, I had to deal with o lot on regular basis. That kind of took a toll on my physical and mental health. There were countless meetings every day which I need to attend. On the top of that, I had to deal with some very specific coding tasks.

Although the project was finished and the clients were happy in the end, I faced lots of problems. Because of my less experience with project management whole team suffered a lot. During the entire project, the project team was not as efficient and cooperative as I thought it would be. Even some functional teams were critical of the project team. The worst thing is that I felt exhausted leading that project. That was very far from my original understanding of being in charge of a project.

2. Four conclusions of self-examination

After self-evaluation, I understood I need to work on improving my skills as a Project manager. Even though I had some experienced colleagues as team members, I failed to facilitate them to form a powerful group to achieve the project objective.

In conclusion, I had made some common mistakes for a new project manager:

First, in the initial phase of the project, I didn’t have a clear understanding of project management. So, I thought the most important thing of the entire process is to finish the project. But there is a huge difference between being team members and being a project manager. Many management works are actually more important than technical works. And as a project manager, I should have used every team member to their full potential. This is where a project manager needs to know how to motivate the team.

Second, during the project, I have always given the team members orders. I was using a uniform method to deal with all team members and relevant stakeholders. That was not a good way of managing. Because it neglects the individuation of human beings.

Third, I always did the technical works by myself. Just because I thought my technical competence was better. But I neglected the management competence.  Once a wise man said: “Being a real leader means letting others work for you.” Otherwise, the team members would not have their own sense of presence. You would certainly feel mentally and physically exhausted.

Fourth, during the project, I neglected the importance of many stakeholders and teams. Letting the project team develop a strained relation with all these stakeholders and teams was not wise. Because that created some serious barriers for the project and the project team.

3. Qualities a Project Manager Should Possess?

In PMBOK 6th edition, a model of a qualified project manager. The model is called “The Project Management Triangle”, which is demonstrated in the following figure.

As shown in the figure, the talent triangle focuses on three key skill sets: Technical project management. The knowledge, skills, and behaviors related to specific domains of project, program, and portfolio management.

Leadership. The knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to guide, motivate, and direct a team, to help an organization achieve its business goals.

Strategic and business management. The knowledge of and expertise in the industry and organization enhanced performance and better delivers business outcomes.

Based on the understanding and application of the talent triangle, today I am able to pay more attention to the factor of people and how they affect the project for my work of project management. That means a qualified project manager does not only have to direct the team to accomplish the project scope, but more importantly, have to spend more time on communicating and dealing with people, such as motivating the project team members and helping them with their career development, and so forth.

For example, when the project team achieves a small goal (like accomplishing a milestone), as a project manager I have to reward and recognize their accomplishment. Meanwhile, I still need to point out the defects and make suggestions for their future improvement.

Remember, as project managers, our service object is the project team, not the project sponsor. During the project, we also have to improve collaboration between the project team and other stakeholders and relevant groups

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