Sunday, May 03, 2009

Maximizing Team Motivation

Over the last 6 months or so we have all likely experienced challenges in keeping teams motivated to the task at hand. We have been barraged with a continuous stream of deteriorating economic news and widespread announcements of headcount reductions. Now more than ever it's important to pay close attention to the team dynamics and keep teams motivated to maximize productivity, thus ensuring products are ready when the market rebounds.

How would you view the motivation level of your team - more importantly is it at a point that negatively impacts the success of your projects? One of the key differentiators between a highly motivated team and a team in need of an inspirational tune up is in the way they deal with problems. A highly motivated team is continuously seeking solutions to execution barriers while a less effective team tends to identify someone else or another organization as the owner of solutions for the obstacles they are experiencing.

Here's the deal - any team's level of motivation is directly proportional to the leadership's ability to create an environment where motivation prospers. If an organization needs to improve the motivational quotient of a team, the process must begin with a change in the leaderships management and communication style. This begins the positive transformation in the way a team interacts with each other to alleviate the multiple challenges of product development, a key step in increasing a teams drive towards execution excellence.

The renovation of a team's dynamics to produce a heightened enthusiasm requires concentration on three specific management style themes - people, trust and fun. People are the nucleus of any team, trust strengthens the conduit of information transfer between the members and fun is the agent to enable productivity during the tough times.

People are the building blocks of a team, where no two of them are the same. The challenge is in understanding the qualities, strengths, weaknesses and objectives of each member and establishing project contributions that are as close a match as possible. The better matched an individual's project personality is to their project contribution, the greater their level of enthusiasm and productivity towards meeting project goals.

Emphasize the people aspects of projects and your team will respond by providing a higher level of support and passion in their contributions. Coaching, nurturing and training may be utilized to expand the individuals project personality to a level that will meet future needs; further strengthening emphasis on the people component of an organization.

Without first establishing trust there will be no credibility and without credibility the team remains skeptical and unmotivated. Be real and authentic with your team about situations as they arise - telling them how it really is. Honesty will breed credibility. Never use "secret" knowledge as a means to promote motivation within the team, they will easily discern this and credibility will be damaged. Build a solid foundation of trust and your team output will be maximized, they will do whatever it takes for success.

Have a good time, even in the face of significant challenges. Lighten up and find the humor in unpleasant situations. Celebrate incremental successes often. Play a good rousing game of Laser tag with the team when you hit tapeout! When a team is having fun they will produce to a higher level, always.

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