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Teamwork – How to Motivate our Team
By Mariusz Zielinski

Most of the articles I have read about motivation answer the question:
“What to do to motivate our people to work more effectively”.
It is a very important question, but I believe an even more important question is:
“What makes people lose their motivation?”

The first thing which happens usually is absence of trust in the team. Some of our people do not feel so comfortable speaking their mind in front of the group. Ask yourself:

  • How many of our people do not cooperate very well with the rest of the team and why?
  • Do we have “informal groups” in our team?

Sometimes the answer is “yes” and we can just observe some people trying to “avoid conflict” and not participating in the discussion. They just do not want to carry the conflict from professional to private life. After a while we may even notice that some people do not share the knowledge they have even if it is crucial for the project. As a result, instead of having “the best solution we were able to generate” we have “just a solution”

After some time people who cannot share their opinions with the team stop participating in the making of decisions and consequently in their realization. We end up having “team” members who work at the minimum of the capabilities and do not think about the common goal anymore. They start to go about their own goals neglecting the team needs.

The realization of the team original goal becomes more and more difficult and the team itself resembles a random bunch of individuals rather than a regular project team. In such conditions the team cannot achieve great success and the demotivating atmosphere may spread on other project groups.

The problem boils down to five points:

Absence of Trust –> Lack of team bond
Fear of Conflict –> Fake harmony
Lack of Commitment –> Insecurity
Avoidance of Accountability –> Low standards
Inattention to Results –> Focus on status and ego

What to do in this situation?

Instead of trying random motivating tools such as bonuses/rewards, try to address the root of the problem by building on mutual trust and working to solve problems as they arise. Unfortunately it takes some time but in the long run it brings substantial benefits in the form of well functioning team able to face upcoming challenges.

Depending on the problem, we can do the following, according to Patrick Lencioni advice given in the “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”:

The Role of the Leader…

Absence of Trust –> Be Vulnerable
Fear of Conflict –> Demand Debate
Lack of Commitment –> Force Clarity and Closure
Avoidance of Accountability –> Confront Difficult Issues
Inattention to Results –> Focus on Collective Outcomes

Mariusz Zielinski is a project manager at Samsung Electronics R&D. Create software for digital TV receivers (STB & PVR). Previously he co-founded SCMA Company and was the author of software for security and protection centers. He also managed a mobile robot project for Polish Astronautics Society (PTA) and led a team of developers of a computer game, “Tridonis”. Mariusz graduated with a Master of Science degree from University of Gdansk and has completed post-graduate studies for IT Project Managers at the Warsaw University of Technology.

His blog: Manage Yourself first

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