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Setting Stretch Goals… and Avoiding SNAP Goals

Setting Stretch Goals… and Avoiding SNAP Goals
By James Grinnell

Take a quick gander at some popular leadership books and you’ll come across exhortations to set sky-high goals and then step back and watch your direct reports move heaven and earth to attain them. There has been ample research at both the individual and organizational levels demonstrating the positive correlation between goal difficulty and performance. Having said such, setting stretch goals is more complicated than ratcheting up expectations past the point of plausibility.

The underlying rationale of stretch goals is that people have an innate desire to be challenged and that they will redouble their efforts when they are presented with a seemingly unattainable target. Such goals jolt the status quo mindset and cause people to rethink how they get things done (i.e., they promote creative problem solving). Relatedly, stretch goals can generate passion and enthusiasm to the extent that that give individuals a glimpse into a desired future state. Read the Complete Article

Beyond Project Plans

Beyond Project Plans
By Jim Highsmith

The Agile community has long advocated self-organizing teams. However, the emphasis has been on how teams perform work, make technical decisions and the like. Most teams are still operating in the same traditional way when it comes to measuring project performance and the application of controls. If empowerment truly focuses on decentralized decisions and authority, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how we empower teams from a financial and performance perspective. In too many cases we are still binding them to fixed plans.

My inspiration for this blog comes from meeting Bjarte Bogsnes (Vice President Performance Management Development, Statoil, and author of Implementing Beyond Budgeting) recently in Australia at a ThoughtWorks Live event. After talking with Bjarte, I’ve been re-reading his book, which discusses how he helped eliminate budgets in several large companies. One of the insights he gained was thinking about the question, “What do we really use budgets for?” The equivalent question in project terms could be, “What do we use project plans for?” The most obvious answer to that question has three components (you may think of others):

  • Co-ordination with other activities
  • Financial controls
  • Motivation

The insight that Bjarte and others had was that they were using a single number for multiple purposes and that the single number was causing significant problems. Read the Complete Article

Unleashing Intrinsic Motivation Through Servant Leadership

Unleashing Intrinsic Motivation Through Servant Leadership
By James Grinnell

The prevailing paradigm of workplace motivation is about to be shattered, at least according to Daniel Pink’s well-grounded book Drive. In this book Pink not only takes a shot across the bow of the mainstream approach to employee motivation, he lands a fatal blow to the midsection.

Pink’s central thesis is that the traditional “carrot and stick” approach worked well in the aseptic mass production environment but is a detriment in creativity-based work settings. The traditional motivation model focused on extrinsic motivations (i.e., using rewards/punishment) to gain employee compliance with organizational expectations. In contrast, the new model taps into intrinsic motivation (i.e., the rewards one experiences internally) to unleash the potential of employees in a mutually beneficial manner. Pink delineates seven unintended consequences of the carrot and stick approach (quoted directly):

  • They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
  • They can diminish performance.
  • They can crush creativity.
Read the Complete Article

Go Team! Building Motivation Into Your Project Management

Go Team! Building Motivation Into Your Project Management
By Jennifer Kentmere

Whether you’ve been brought into an organization to manage a project or you’ve put together your own team for a client, a freelancer faces some unique problems with team motivation.

Your team might be scattered, working remotely, living in different time zones, even on different continents. Maybe they’ve never worked together before, and maybe this is the first time you’ve worked with them.

Almost certainly, you’ll have no direct authority. You aren’t their line manager and aren’t responsible for appraisals.

So what can you do to keep your team motivated and your project on track?

Understanding your team

What are each of your team members’ goals? What makes them tick? If you understand what they want out of this project (money, exposure, portfolio building, networking opportunities, a vested interest in the project’s success etc) you can take a more individual approach to motivating each team member, rather than using a one-size-fits all approach. Read the Complete Article

5 Tips to Motivate Your Project Team

5 Tips to Motivate Your Project Team
By Martin Webster

Change introduces uncertainty, stress and anxiety in those affected by and those implementing change. Inevitably this has an impact on motivation and performance. Keeping your project team motivated is a challenge for the project manager and crucial to success. Unfortunately some managers use fear or draw from accrued goodwill to achieve results. However, this only works for a while and ultimately damages credibility. A leadership style with a people-orientation is key to motivating staff. Use the following tips to motivate your team. Review performance and your approach to motivation regularly.

  1. Clear Goal Setting – Goal-setting is linked to task performance and is the main source of intrinsic motivation – that is, motivation driven by an interest in the task. Setting specific and clear goals leads to greater output and better team performance. Therefore, set unambiguous, measurable and clear goals with a deadline for completion to avoid any misunderstanding.
Read the Complete Article

Hey Project Managers – Don’t Just Tell Them, Show Them!

Project Managers: Don’t Just Tell Them, Show Them!
By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, Founder, Cheetah Learning

I sat in a window seat on the plane with my nose stuck in my newly purchased book. It was one of those books that sucks you right in, leaving you completely unaware of your surrounding, which is exactly what I needed to save me from what otherwise would have been a monotonous travel day, full of weather delays and missed connections. At my next stop, as I waited in an endless line to find out which flight was available for me now that I missed my connection, I was an island of contentment surrounded by a sea of angry and frustrated individuals, and all because I had a good story to occupy me.

I got to thinking about why certain stories were so riveting, why others were just so-so. What I decided was that a good author did not simply tell you the story, they showed you the story as if you were there, revealing the plot with actions of the characters, and not just with explanations. Read the Complete Article

Boosting Morale in High Profile Projects

Boosting Morale in High Profile Projects
By Abby Dryer

High Profile projects can be very exciting. They can also be quite terrifying if project team members believe that the success or failure of the project will determine their employment future. As the economic landscape changes, some projects can be tasked with the honor of ‘saving the company’. To some, such a project is an exhilarating opportunity. To others, that same project can be interpreted to mean that a single imperfection will cripple their career. As a Project Manager, the most important part of resource and risk management is raising and maintaining morale for the team. The question is – how does one do that while maintaining the triple constraint?

The quick answer is also the least correct answer – throw money at it. Fear is not something that money or “swag” can make disappear. In fact, if the company’s financial security is in question, any form of expenditure may be interpreted as wasteful poor planning. Read the Complete Article

The Importance of Motivation in Project Management

The Importance of Motivation in Project Management
By Michael L Young

A poorly motivated team has been known to unravel even the best project plan. A good project manager needs to know how to harness the initial excitement that comes with starting a project and use it to maintain motivation – leading to success throughout the project’s lifecycle. We now know that contemporary project managers need to be more than just schedulers and contract managers. They need excellent skills in managing those complex human elements that have the potential to bring any project down.

Motivation Theory and how it works

Most people who’ve been around management for a while would have heard of the key management theories about motivation. There’s the difference between intrinsic (like values and beliefs) and extrinsic (like money and recognition) motivation. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is also often referred to. This theory proposes that people need to meet lower level goals such as the need for food, shelter and security before they are motivated by higher level goals such as the need for achievement and social acceptance. Read the Complete Article

Project Leadership and Motivating Teams

Project Leadership and Motivating Teams
By Ty Kiisel

I have to admit, one of the most rewarding parts of writing articles is the opportunity to interact with so many smart and dedicated people. We all face many of the same challenges every day and I am blown away by the willingness of everyone I speak with to share ideas, experiences and best practices. Among many of the topics we discuss, the difference between project management and project leadership is a hot topic. Recently I have noticed a recurring theme in some of the questions I get asked, including:

  1. How can I actually trust the project team to self-direct their work?
  2. What is the best way to keep members of the project team motivated?

Trust the Team

I’ll admit that what I’m about to say is probably easier said than done, but worth the effort. I have had the opportunity to work as a team member or a project leader on many teams over the years, and believe that fundamentally people “step up” when given the opportunity. Read the Complete Article

The Impact of Energy on Projects

The Impact of Energy on Projects
By Christie Dowling, Alexandra Gerbasi, and Vic Gulas

The energy of outstanding performers can be measured.

It’s no surprise that success in project-based organizations is driven by how well project teams perform. The quality of performance depends not only on the demands of the project but on the team makeup and dynamics. In fact, those human factors can have a much greater impact on results than the challenges of complexity and scope. Collaboration, communication, leadership, and effective knowledge sharing are vital to success, and the “spirit” of teams matters at least as much as their technical skill.

We’ve all seen teams that succeed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. They seem to be driven by more than great processes, good communication, and individual heroics. They exude an infectious energy, outwardly and among their members. Talk of energy in teams is often relegated to the list of “intangibles” that may find their way into promotional documents or performance reviews but do not trump the “numbers.” But we all have people in our work lives that we gravitate toward to get a “boost” and others we avoid because they “suck the life out of you.” The effects of energy are real and important. Read the Complete Article

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