Motivating Your Project Team with Feedback and Rewards

10 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Managing a Project Team

Getting your team members to appreciate your project’s value and feasibility helps you motivate them initially. However, if the project lasts longer than a couple of weeks, the team’s initial motivation can die out without continual reinforcement from you.

In general, people working on a particular task need to know how they’re doing over time for three reasons:

  • Achieving intermediate milestones provides personal satisfaction.

  • Recognizing their successes confirms they’re on the right track.

  • Successfully completing intermediate steps reinforces their belief that they can accomplish the final goals.

Have you ever seen a 12-month project in which all the major milestones occurred in months 11 and 12? When do you think people got serious about this project? Months 10, 11, and 12 (if they were still around by then)! Obviously, you want your team members to stay interested and motivated throughout the life of your project, not just at its climax.

Do the following to help keep people on track and excited about your project:

  • Establish meaningful and frequent intermediate milestones.

  • Continually assess how people are doing.

  • Frequently share information with people about their performance.

  • Continually reinforce the project’s potential benefits.

Rewarding people at a project’s conclusion for their effort and accomplishments confirms to them that they accomplished the desired results and met the audience’s needs. It also reassures them that team members and managers recognize and appreciate their contributions. This recognition, in turn, makes it more likely that they’ll welcome the opportunity to participate in future projects.

Post-project rewards can take several forms, including the following:

  • You talk with the person and express your appreciation for her help.

  • You express your appreciation in a written note or e-mail to the person.

  • You express your appreciation in writing to the person’s supervisor.

  • You formally submit input to the person’s performance appraisal.

  • You nominate the person for a future assignment she particularly wants.

  • You nominate the person for a cash award.

  • You issue the person a certificate of appreciation.

  • You take the person out to lunch.

Rather than guessing which form of reward your team members will appreciate most, ask each of them directly.

To make the rewards you offer the most effective, do the following:

  • Be sure your acknowledgment and appreciation is honest and sincere.

  • Note the specific contribution the reward recognizes.

  • Respect the person’s personal style and preferences when giving the reward:

    • Some people enjoy receiving acknowledgements in front of their coworkers, while others prefer receiving them in private.

    • Some people appreciate receiving an individual award; others appreciate receiving an award presented to the entire team.

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The Essentials of Managing a Project Team

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