People become demotivated, so do something - 22.08.11

 Apparently it is the usual state of human affairs, and generally people feel less happy than we would expect.

So, if your people are looking down in the dumps, listless, uninterested, don’t self flagellate.

Is it important that people are motivated?

The general consensus is that it is important, because it is said that more is produced, and better quality is produced.

(Remember, the press is telling us that we need to become more productive in Australia. That our productivity is declining. )

Why not try a simple experiment?

Decide what it is on your project where productivity can easily be measured.

Try the following to increase relevant peoples’ motivation, (after you have measured the initial productivity being achieved.)

NOTE. These steps are relevant for Australia. Other steps may be relevant for other countries

  1. Invent a game, or a subproject if you are not comfortable with the term “game” where the players all have an equal say in decisions made during the progress of the game or sub project. The objective of the game is to reach a defined increase in the productivity of the item you have picked for your project. Think about rules for each stage of a team building process. For example, in the forming stage, make a rule that everyone has to find out at least three things about each other team member that they did not know before. Have an interim reward when this is completed. Identify the mavericks. Those who are cynical, who don’t appear to want to be involved. Find them something to do that is not going to “contaminate” the team. You, as the game referee and judge need to be a little bit directive at the forming stage. Plan other rules for the storming, norming and performing stages that the team will go through. Also consider “process-oriented” theories. Think about rules to guide the various “tracks” that the team will use. People usually focus on tasks, relationships, and topics that cause friction or cohesion in the team.
  2. Decide on a reward that the team shares in equally. Perhaps the reward is a cumulative one, where a part of the reward is available, or generated at the different stages that you think the team has achieved the relevant stage of team formation.
  3. Prepare a communication plan to communicate the game to your team. Include a component of “selling”, in your communication plan.
  4. Implement your communication plan. Sell it. Use every means that you can to communicate it. Think about getting one of the obvious natural leaders who will be in the team, to help you sell it.
  5. Ensure that you get feedback from the people who will be playing the game.
  6. Take into account the feedback, and modify the rules of the game if you have to.
  7. Play the game for a defined period of time sufficient to achieve a measured increase in productivity. While the game is being played ensure that you:
    1. Congratulate players for successes
    2. Provide feedback when the game does not seem to be achieving the increase in productivity that you are hoping for,
    3. Seek feedback from the team players about the rules and whether by changing them you can get a better result
    4. Continually show the progress of the game, and the results of all decisions, in a number of ways, via emails, a “shared workspace”, on the net, a whiteboard with update post it notes, and any other imaginative tool you can use. You are trying to get focus on the game here, from all who are playing it. You are trying to get people working together, sharing ideas etc
  8. Finish the game when it has been successful


At the conclusion of the game, agree with the team those things, systems, decisions, ways of working that made them want to become involved, that made them more “motivated”. Use theses things on the rest of your project

An example of a game

What it is on your project where productivity can easily be measured – say in this case it is letting the first three subcontracts for construction three weeks before the programmed milestone.

Your first set of rules may include the following;

  • All head contract requirements have to be complied with
  • All company or organisational rules/ systems/standards have to be complied with
  • Each person on the team has to find out at least three things about everyone else on the team within one week.
  • Rules as to how the team accomplishes its goals, such as doing problem analysis, designing solutions, etc., which may include a rule that certain problem solving and risk management processes that the team develops, have to meet certain criteria.
  • Rules as to how the team identifies when there are relationship issues or issues with a particular topic and what they do to deal with these, and stop all other tasks until the relationship issues or issues with a particular topic are dealt with. It could be that any team member is empowered to “call time out” at any time, and ask the team to consider their problem.
  • Rules for behaviour. It may be acceptable in the team, considering their make-up, to allow swearing and the use of usually considered “politically incorrect” statements. Alternatively, the team may include people who do not appreciate this form of interaction, and so the rules prohibit this. This type of rule is important in Australia, where there is a diverse culture, and the norm outside the workplace often contains “politically incorrect “behaviour that is however very effective in achieving a team’s goals.
  • Rules that allow people to suggest changes to contract requirements, or company or organisational rules/ systems/standards. In fact this should be encouraged. It can result in a number of advantages. Changes to the contract which benefit the client, and changes within the company which benefit the company.

As the game progresses, you will see people becoming more motivated. This will occur, because instead of overarching rules and the old way of doing things, the people in the team see a reason for their being there. They are achieving something that usually would not be part of their day to day work. They see immediate rewards, and achievement of their own needs. Mavericks are encouraged, however, only really become part of the team, when they start to contribute. Unless you have a set of people, who are so demotivated because of the organisational culture that their cynicism prevents any real effort, or organisational culture that is so far behind on the area of people development, you will see your people becoming more motivated.

Related posts:

  1. The PMO
  2. Why coaching in the infrastructure area 2 ?
  3. difficult project teams and how to handle poor performers
  4. Coaching and productivity gains in infrastructure creation for Australia
  5. Public workshops second half 2011

Leave a Reply

Logged in as