Jun 022011

What motivates project teams and leaders [and indeed all members of the human race] ? What makes them do what they do? Why do individuals seem better at some tasks than at others, doing great work in some areas and seemingly neglecting others?

I believe that there are 4 main reasons anyone does anything:

Reward, Recognition, Process, Contribution

For someone to be happy in the long term at their job or on their projects, they will have a mix of these motivators. No-one can escape the reward issue. After all, we all have families to feed. While recognition is often down-played, if one truly thinks about it, everyone likes a bit of positive feedback for a job well done.

The last 2, process and contribution, I think are the predominant ones. For one to be truly content in the long term there needs to be a sense of working, not necessarily toward a goal or outcome, but in a way that is inherently pleasing and within the context of contribution to the community around us.

So, if these are indeed common motivators, what are you, as Project Manager, doing with your team? Are you recognising and re-inforcing where appropriate? If the parameters on the one hand are restrictive [eg fixed corporate pay structures] are your lifting the focus on the others in order to keep your teams at optimum performance?

And on a personal level, do you have these 4 in the correct proportions in your own life? Some people are predominantly ‘Reward ‘focused, bowing to the almighty dollar above all else. What about the need for acknowledgement and recognition? We all have similar challenges to a certain extent. The key to long-term contentment though lies with the latter two: ‘Process’ and ‘Contribution’. Keep the focus on these and contain the overwhelming urge to give free reign to the former two and there’s a good chance at long-term happiness and success.


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