How to maintain a happy and motivated team

Keeping team members enthusiastic and working hard is much easier when things are going well. The expression that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ may be true for some but certainly doesn’t apply to everyone.  And when the pressure mounts because of time and cost overruns, that’s when people are on edge and even a trivial thing can seem much larger and more difficult.

The two most common things which flatten a member of staff, which de-motivates workers are [a] not being thanked and [b] not being noticed. If one of your team members is working extremely hard and their efforts are unrewarded or not even mentioned, you are looking at a team member who is probably already looking for a new job. You have lost them for the future and possibly even for this current project.

Now these two factors – lack of reward and lack of recognition – are not new ideas. Those situations have been around for ages yet it is remarkable how many managers fail to measure up. It is not rocket science and nor is it costly to have a system whereby staff members are thanked, even publicly, and had their splendid contribution acknowledged, again in public. The benefits of treating staff this way far outweigh any costs. What costs? But the failure to thank and credit staff can have serious and damaging repercussions.

To again state the obvious, leaders are supposed to lead. A project leader has many responsibilities and in many manuals the instructions to use words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ may not appear. But good manners and good leadership go hand in hand. Equipment may be able to perform miraculous tasks saving your business both time and money but people operate the machines. People create both the hardware and software.  Without people your project team is nothing. And while equipment may lack feelings, people most certainly do not. Thank them and give them due credit for their hard work.

Now leaders are sometimes put in a unique category. Leaders are not the same. They get more money than the rest of us and leaders have to shoulder the blame. Now all that is true but as a leader, do you want recognition if your project is successful? Do you want to be appreciated for guiding your team to an on-time, on-budget conclusion? Well your need is the same as that of your team members. They want to be appreciated too.

As a leader if you are looking for ways to thank and reward your staff, think about your situation. How would you like to be thanked and rewarded? Well that’s probably how your team members would like to be remembered as well. ‘Manners maketh the man/woman’ has been a saying for centuries. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ don’t cost anything and when the going gets tough, when the stress levels head to the red marker zone, it’s doubly good that the managers remain polite and considerate.  Such behaviour has a habit of being returned in kind.


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