Project Management

The Five Ways to Motivate Your Project Team

Happiness and motivation seem to go hand-in-hand, especially in the world of project management. At Voices on Project Management, Lynda Bourne expands upon her idea that a happy team is a motivated team by using Dr. David Rock’s “SCARF” model, which provides information about how motivation actually works. The SCARF model acronym stands for five elements:

  1. Status
  2. Certainty
  3. Autonomy
  4. Relatedness
  5. Fairness

People by nature are driven by the need for heightened self-esteem, and one factor affecting self-esteem is acknowledgment by others, which boils down to status. There is no single gauge for status because it is all really up to perceptions. People will however go to great lengths to preserve whatever they status they believe they have. A little status can act as a motivator, but too much status too soon can create unwanted anxiety.

When the future is unclear and people are unsure about what is to come, they become scared and their brain perceives this as a threat. People sometimes cling to certainty even when it would really be in their best interest to follow the uncertainty. Good leaders need to acknowledge this risk and provide their team with enough clarity to keep them motivated.

No one enjoys someone constantly peering over their shoulder. People often thrive in an autonomous environment. Additionally, people thrive in an environment in which they can learn new skills without the fear of failure deterring them. That means you should still try to keep someone handy to mentor and guide someone when needed.

People who have connections to peers are not only happier individuals; they are healthier too. Effective leaders need to manage their teams well so that the individuals feel connected and close. Relatedness is a cultural quality that varies from group to group.

Lastly, fairness is a cornerstone to happiness. When people believe they are treated unfairly, they feel threatened and deterred. Leaders need to not only be perceived as fair, but they need to act fairly as well:

The tendency to prefer equity and resist unfair outcomes is deeply rooted in people, to the extent that they are willing to sacrifice personal gain in order to prevent another person from receiving an inequitably better outcome.

It’s especially easy for people or teams to get upset by small injustices when they are tired. Therefore, leaders must ensure fairness both in fact and in perception. They need to do their best to be always seen as doing the right thing by everyone. This is no easy task!

Carry this scarf with you across your project, and you might be able to make more than a fashion statement.

You can view part one here:

You can view part two here:

Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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