5 tips for creating a motivated and highly effective team

The level of motivation within the project team can be a crucial contributing factor in the success or failure of a project. Motivated colleagues and team members work differently to people who are not very concerned about the outcome of the project. As well as undertaking the usual administrative tasks, it is essential that project managers do not neglect their staff management responsibilities.
Like the head of the company, they must always ensure that everyone involved in the project is doing a good job, which is easiest to achieve when people are motivated. Here you will find a number of tips on the subject of motivation.
People playing tug of war


Why motivation is important

Many projects have a high potential for good motivation right from the start, or at least at the beginning of the project when ideas are new, and everyone is happy to be involved in the project. However, there are also projects that are less impressive and don't capture everyone's imagination. Like it or not, these projects still need to be dealt with and managed.
Over time, even the most prestigious projects often lose some of their charm and team motivation can begin to wane. In both cases, it is up to the project manager to restore motivation, which in turn improves performance. People who are motivated will also be more satisfied with their work and the results they achieve. If you look at motivation from a psychological perspective, you will learn that motivation has to stem from individuals themselves. It is not possible to motivate people against their own will; instead, it is necessary to get them to motivate themselves. 
Luckily there are some helpful tricks that you can use.

Have the purpose of the project in mind

As a project manager, you need to establish a framework that enables people to find their own motivation. A suitable project management environment increases self-motivation. The project manager is responsible for keeping all negative influences away from the team, creating optimal working conditions and ensuring that the atmosphere in the team remains positive.
This means in particular that the benefits and goals of the project must always be kept in mind. It is useful to emphasise frequently how worthwhile and valuable the project is. The project manager should always ensure that team members feel that they are working for a good cause. It is essential that no one gets the idea that it is all just a waste of time. It can be helpful to keep emphasising the positive aspects and to give meaning and importance to each individual task within the project.

Meaningful and motivating goals

Project management objectives must be realistic. They must be both achievable and obvious to everyone involved in the project. A goal that does not seem achievable will not motivate anyone. All efforts will seem pointless because no one can imagine that the goal will ever be achieved. However, the goal must also be somewhat ambitious in order to be motivating. It is up to the project manager to find the right balance between realistic and challenging goals. The same applies to intermediate goals set during the course of the project.

Praise and appreciation

It is important for the team that all achievements are recognized and that appropriate praise and appreciation is given. Numerous studies have shown that people who feel valued for their work are significantly more efficient, more successful, happier and less likely to fall ill. The same is true for project managers and their teams. While an appropriate financial reward is one form of recognition, it is psychologically extremely important for people to hear on a regular basis that they have done a good job and that someone has noticed. Knowing that you are good at what you do and that other people value you can be very motivating. As a project manager, it is important to ask yourself whether you have given enough praise and positive feedback, but only when it is warranted.

Recognizing team strengths

The project manager is responsible for identifying which people in the team are best suited to carry out specific tasks. This is easy when you have known your team for years and have worked with them on many projects. But it can be a real challenge when working with a new and unfamiliar team. People are very different. Some people love to spend all day immersed in columns of numbers, while others would die of boredom if they even thought about doing that kind of work. This is also an extremely important motivational factor; each team member needs to be given a task that suits them. Although it may sound obvious, it can sometimes be helpful to simply ask yourself what a particular person is good at and what he or she is capable of. With a little experience, it is possible to quickly identify your colleagues' weaknesses or, more importantly, their strengths.

Transparency means greater motivation

A project manager is always expected to be well organised and to follow procedures systematically and for good reasons. However, this is not enough because the team also needs to know what those reasons are and how the system works. The team also needs to understand why certain things are done in a certain way. Transparency is the key!
It is also important that planning and project schedules are communicated to ensure that work is not duplicated, interdependencies are understood and work can be done more efficiently. Smooth working processes that are understood by all not only contribute to the overall success of the project, but are also highly motivating. Confusing structures and pointless debates, on the other hand, are frustrating and demotivating.


There are many things that go into motivating a team as a project manager. You should be aware of this from the beginning to get the best out of the team. If the team is already familiar with each other, you can give each person an appropriate task to create an efficient team that is motivated to work together. It is important to remember that not everyone can be motivated at the same level all the time and that bad days can be made up for by good days. If you don't know the team yet, you can also draw on the experience of previous project managers or discuss within the team who is best suited to what task and therefore most motivated. This will ensure that the team and the project manager work well together and that motivation remains high.

The IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, Motivation, Tips

The IAPM certification

The certification can be taken via a reputable online examination procedure. The costs are based on the gross domestic product of your country of origin.

From the IAPM Blog

Become a Network Official

Do you want to get involved in project management in your environment and contribute to the further development of project management? Then become active as an IAPM Network Official or as a Network Official of the IAPM Network University. 

For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.