Welcome to the fifth of twelve articles where we talk about the do’s (and some of the don’ts) of Project Managing Agile Projects. During this series we will work our way through the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto and talk about how it relates to you, a project manager and your project.
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done. (Beck, 2001)
You are getting into the project, you have satisfied the customers, you have delivered working software and your stakeholders are working well together with your developers. There is a rhythm in the workforce. All your team members feel they are an integral part of the team just as the project is starting to an unexpected turn. Things are starting to get repetitive. The time-consuming jobs that have been put off need to be completed, the documentation needs to be started and then there are the budget constraints. The team has realised that there is still plenty of code that needs to be written and there is no end in sight. Deadlines are looming and it seems the life of the project is starting to be drained away. This is when motivation becomes an issue.
Now is the time that a project manager needs to call on all their skills to keep the team motivated. There are many theories and frameworks available that are focused on how to keep teams motivated, but it usually boils down to two key factors: Hygiene and Motivators.
Hygiene factors are environmental factors that ensure the team member is happy to be at work but not to excel at work. These can include items like a calm working space, good and up-to-date equipment, the ability to take days off, the chance for training or upskilling, having job security and a fair salary. You can kind of think of them as being de-motivational if they are missing or of poor quality. For example, if you find out you are under-paid then it is likely to lead to feelings of anger and de-motivation.
Motivators are factors that are likely to see team members elevate their work productivity and/or quality. These can include challenging work, receiving recognition for achievements and enabling your team members to take on additional responsibility, demonstrating a trust in their ability.
In my case, at the beginning of any project I sit down with each team member and talk about their own individual needs, interests, challenges and goals. This way, I get a “feel” for the different personalities and characteristics of the team members. I genuinely listen to the good and bad and I seek to communicate to them that their Project Manager is someone who is ready and interested in listening. I was open to any input and put trust in my team members, which installed a confidence that my motivation was in the interests of the team and actioned that input where possible. I assigned tasks, as well as responsibility for completing that task, and recognised completion of them. In the end this had a significant contribution towards a successful project outcome.
It may seem obvious, but motivated teams truly do produce the best results. A good Project Manager is one who can keep the team motivated by encouraging a satisfactory employment environment (Hygiene Factors) while ensuring the work is challenging and rewarding (Motivating Factors). The best and most rewarding side effect is that you will end up keeping motivated too!
In the next article, we will explore the most efficient and effective way to talk with your team!
Amerongen, R. v. (2008, March 2). Agile software development, the principle, Principle 5: Build projects around motivated indviduals.
Beck, K. B. (2001). Agile Manifesto. Retrieved from Agile Manifesto