How do you motivate your Project Team?

Hi all,

Being a start up I face this issue a lot. We have talented and dedicated team working on projects, When a project begins, everybody is excited and full of enthusiasm. But with time, the energies seem to be sinking and a lot many people seem to lay off track. 

So overcome this problem, I wanted suggestions on how do I keep my project team motivated. 

14 Replies
Ashley Chiasson

Hi Alice - I've struggled with this one on my own; everyone has moments when motivation lags behind (while the project keeps going). I like to find ways of making the work personal for each individual, and increasing the accountability. No one wants to be a boss that is always at their staff member's throats, but if the employees step up, provide continual positive feedback - it really goes along way.

If someone is draining resources, I would take them aside and have a discussion with them, explaining that good work does not go unnoticed and that you want everyone to strive to produce quality work. Another way is through incentives; as a start-up, I empathize the difficulty in providing incentives, but even small rewards for jobs well done will go a long way. I once had a client send me an unwarranted gift card over the Christmas holiday, and I was floored! People like to sell themselves short, so small nudges of kindness (and they don't always need to be monetary!) can really make a big difference in building up confidence and engagement.

Steve Flowers

There's an energy curve. I've noticed this with clients as well as team members. A spike in the beginning when everything is in the ramp in / creation stage, but a dip in energy as time drags on. It's a tough thing to deal with when the light at the end of the tunnel is so small and dim We get into the cycle of work and delivery -- shipping stuff -- and we often forget to celebrate our wins. On a long project, 2 months or more to celebrate a win is a really long time.

Here are a few things that I think help:


  • Make the project cycles shorter by breaking *successes* into smaller chunks. This provides a couple of opportunities. First, you get another one of those "start of something" energy surges. And second, it provides a new celebration opportunity. 

  • Celebrate wins more often. Come up with a set of rituals that clearly celebrate reaching a milestone.

  • Make it personal. People respond well to the validation that comes with a thank you. A sincere thank you on a hand written note can mean the world to folks used to getting a group thank you on an email list.

  • Make sure folks are learning new things and new ways to accomplish the work. By the same token, giving people the opportunity to share what they know can provide an energy boost.

  • Encourage those in positions of influence to model positive behaviors. Some research (Gottman) indicates that in order to maintain a positive relationship, every negative interaction must be balanced with five or more positive interactions. A downward spiral of bad news -- neutral feedback or no feedback can be perceived as bad -- can be hard to pull out of.

I don't think there's one easy answer. Everyone tends to respond a little bit differently. What drives energy up for one might take from another.

Alice Dane

Thank you so much Ashley and Steve. I agree that there is no specific "universal" solution that applies to this problem, but the points mentioned by you, would be of great help. It has helped in getting a better and real life perspective towards the problem. I am surely going to implement some of these, and analyze the change it brings, there forth.

Ashley Chiasson

That's great, Alice! Another tip - within our industry, there's always constructive criticism and revisions, and some folks are less 'encouraged' by these 'criticisms' or revisions. One suggestion for this is use the criticism sandwich: sandwich all criticisms with two positives. For example, "I really like what you did with that module, but the client has a few minor changes, you're pretty efficient, so the revisions will probably take you no time!". Doing this will make the 'critique' of the individual's work seem a bit softer for those who struggle with receiving criticism.

Alice Dane

Hey Ashley,

Thank you so much for this tip. It is such a smart way, to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and deliver better than what they already have. I am sure this would help me maintain a cordial relation with the team, as well as get the best out of them.

Thank you so much!

Jennifer Mark

We usually motivate our team by setting some sort of target and assigning some rewards or monetary amount upon completion of the assigned task. And we have seen most of the employees gets motivated on this and imply all possible ways to complete the project. With every single effort the overall productivity comes to an significant end up.

Alice Dane

Great help Jennifer. Thank you!

I've recently signed up for a project management tool named proofhub. My team has simply loved it, and with everybody connected in one location, managing work has become so much fun and convenient. We've opted for the Standard plan to begin with, and the 30-day free trial has been amazing so far. So this is one thing I would suggest to others, who are facing a similar issue like me. Here's a link to the website: http://www.proofhub.com/

Greg Kitters

in favor of collaboration advice, i can suggest using personal management tools enabling users to create plans, set goals and engage with each other sharing their progress and results. One we use is Personal Goals Manager. Users arebe able to share their goals and plans, progress with co-workers and support each other. It  boosts employees performance and increase their motivation.

Another option is using some kind of checklists or to do-lists, where users can assign tasks to each other and tarck their progress. There are plenty of them available.

Bruce Graham

Kate Salvan said:

Another option is social collaboration. You can create social community where all employees who work on a project can communicate with each other, sharing ideas, thoughts and showing their results. Competition is a good motivator indeed!


I would argue  - "...sometimes".

In a sales team perhaps...amongst a team of researchers, or admin assistants> Perhaps less.

Competition has to be closely watched, as it can very quickly become a HUGE de-motivator.

Rashmi Chandru

Working remotely has many perks, both for a company and its employees. The freedom to work from wherever they want to is a huge draw for today’s millennial workforce. On the other hand, companies are no longer restricted by geographical obligations and can leverage talent from different countries and set up remote teams anywhere in the world.

remote team means getting access to the best talent, irrespective of geography. However, does it always pay off? A study conducted by Gallup showed that remote employees are more likely to feel left out or isolated as compared to their onsite peers. The same study also proved that organisations with engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by over 202%!