10 Great Ways to Motivate a Project Team

10 Great Ways to Motivate a Project Team

A motivated project team can bring a project to life. It can give the project the momentum it needs during its toughest hours and spur people on to reaching the end. Great management is the key to getting the most out of a team, and part of managing a team is making sure they are always motivated to give everything they have got to a project. If you are looking at ways to get your team motivated for your project, here are ten ideas to get you started:

1.    Give your team autonomy

There is nothing that will zap a team member’s spirit more than being micro-managed. Respecting the work and the skills of your team means allowing them the freedom to make judgment calls where it is suitable to do so. They might make the wrong decisions sometimes, but that is simply a learning exercise for them, and best for them to learn it directly than being told. Micro-management is not only extremely difficult to do on a project with multiple team members but it is also very demotivating for everyone involved, as every discussion, conversation and piece of documentation becomes focused on very small details.

2.    Get your team to make their own commitments to the project

Following on from point number 1 – giving team members autonomy – another great way to motivate staff is to allow them to set their own goals. The best commitment you can get from someone is when they make that commitment themselves, rather than agreeing to something you ask of them. So instead of setting the team individual deadlines for example, ask them what deadlines they are confident they can stick to. You might not like the answer, but they are much more likely to achieve it.

3.    Arrange a team night out

A great way to keep team spirits up and keep motivation high is to take things away from the office occasionally. A night out can give people the chance to get to know the rest of the team better and to allow people to relax. Don’t simple do this at the start of the project, but arrange it for when you are in the midst of most of the work. It is important that people get time away from the challenges that come with a project and they will appreciate it.

4.    Continuous praise

Humans are motivated by praise. In psychological terms, this is known as positive reinforcement. Rather than focus on rectifying the negatives you spot in what your team are doing, simply concentrate on highlighting all the positives. Although this seems like an obvious point, it is common for project managers to forget this in the midst of a stressful project. Taking a moment out to tell someone when they’ve done a good job demonstrates that you do appreciate and notice their hard work.

5.    Using the stronger team members as mentors

An intelligence approach for getting the most out of your team is to pair up the stronger members with the weaker members. Not only does this give some of the more junior members of your team some continuous support and guidance throughout the project, but it allows the senior members to take on more responsibility. Many people react well to this dual approach, and if done correctly can be very successful for bringing out the best in a team.

6.    Pass on comments from the customer

As with praise, this is something that can get neglected too often. Even the smallest thank you or positive comment from a customer is worth relaying back to your team. Sometimes, since they can be a step removed from the customer side of a project, it is hard for them to see whether their efforts are appreciated or not. Reminding them that they have a thankful customer is a good way of motivating a team.

7.    Send out thank you emails and copy in management

Team members like to receive recognition for their hard work, and one of the best ways of doing this is to publicly recognize their efforts. Extending thank you notes to a wider audience, including those that make decisions regarding things like pay and promotion (i.e. the management team), shows your team that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed and it will motivate others to put in the same effort to get their own public thank you.

8.    Have a bonus scheme

Money isn’t everything, but it is something, and you must remember that people are in a job to get a salary. The idea of a financial bonus for hard work does motivate teams into putting in extra effort to get something done, particularly if the bonus is related to the outcome of a project and dependent on the whole team working together to achieve a goal rather than just an individual.

9.    Have a team competition

Taking advantage of the competitive nature of some personalities is a good way to motivate your team. Keep the theme fairly light-hearted, but offer your team a competition that will push them to produce their work to a high standard. Do be warned though: steer clear of competitions that are solely about getting individuals to complete items of work in a faster timeframe as this may lead to a drop in quality.

10. Identify their strengths

Individuals are motivated when they do work that is challenging, but not impossible. So it makes sense to give individuals the opportunity to work on things which stretch their ability, but likewise activities which also play to their strengths. Understanding what each individual in your team is good at will allow you to assign work out in a way which your team will appreciate and they won’t be stuck with something they find either too menial or too difficult to handle.


A highly motivated team is a huge asset to a project. As a project manager, chances are you will not be the day to day line manager of the people you are working with. However there still is plenty you can do to keep the team motivated. Follow these suggestions and you will be well on your way to building a team that will perform well for you and help your project go a long way towards success.


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