Sustaining your team’s motivation over the course of a long, complex, or challenging project can be tough enough. When your group’s members are dispersed, it’s even more difficult to keep everyone from losing their passion for the project. Without traditional in-person interactions to give people a shot in the arm when things seem like a slog—and because remote workers often aren’t able to see the fruits of their labors up close—PMs need to put extra effort into making sure their team’s enthusiasm level doesn’t wane.
If you’re looking for new ways to keep your people motivated, consider these strategies that can be deployed throughout your project’s lifecycle.
Celebrate the wins. When your team reaches a project milestone, make it a big deal. You don’t need elaborate or expensive measures, but an e-mail blast to the group—don’t forget to copy your sponsors and senior staff—sharing the kudos is an excellent way to boost everyone’s motivation. Include any metrics that show how well the team performed, such as cost savings, early completion, or other end user feedback. If it’s a big milestone, consider a virtual social gathering your team can join remotely. Happy hours and coffee breaks held via video conference are popular options, giving people a chance to come together online and share their successes.
Maintain awareness of how far everyone has come. Managing multiple projects can become overwhelming if the mountain of tasks in front of you is all you see. And when people are remotely located, they don’t always get visual cues to show them the value of the changes they’ve helped implement. Keep your team motivated with regular reminders of how much they’ve achieved so far. During weekly or monthly meetings, include before and after comparisons of a key project task, for example. Photos of upgrades to an outdated manufacturing facility or a screenshot of a sleek new product page can be valuable tools to remind your team members of what’s already been accomplished.
Encourage strong connections with peers. Sometimes the best way to refresh your enthusiasm for your work is to get some candid input from your peers. As a PM, you should not only hold routine team meetings to ensure members maintain strong connections with their internal peers, but also encourage your group to keep in touch with colleagues and industry contacts in other companies. A strong peer network can act as a sounding board when someone becomes frustrated by a project, enabling team members to let off steam and get a new perspective on their situation. Peers can also be an invigorating force when a person needs reassurance that they have the skills to overcome a difficult challenge ahead of them.
Look for opportunities beyond the project. Though most of your team’s energy will focus on the initiatives you’re executing, it’s also important to remember each person has goals and aspirations outside the strict parameters of those projects. Consider what drives your team members and explore ways to support their ambitions. Remote work arrangements present some challenges in this regard but also offer some valuable flexibility. Would online training help someone who wants to build their project management competencies? Look for e-learning opportunities in their field. Are you able to facilitate key mentoring relationships? Holding monthly video conferences with a senior project professional and a few less experienced team members is a great way to ensure valuable knowledge is shared within the group. By supporting your employees as they grow toward the goals that are meaningful to them, you’ll also motivate them to remain engaged and perform to their best ability.