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Shriram Narayanan PMP: Motivational Management

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Inherent winning factor for a clean and successful Project completion.

In this awe-inspiring world of busy people, busy projects, busy actions and busy all; there are a lot of things that are least considered noting the amount of time and life we have. One of those least bothered but a highly resonant subject is Motivation. Every successful project attributes its bit of acknowledgement to motivation, knowingly or unknowingly. Motivation gives the team, the pep to GO that EXTRA MILE in completing the project. Of all the successful projects, how many projects are won clean and smooth? 10%,hardly. Project ends successfully but many leave that black mark which are either forgotten or wished to be forgotten. How many projects end with both customers and team members being happy, happy, and happy! Motivation is one of the key elements of a Project’s clean success, as does communication in the mere success of a project.


Motivation, a vital team winning component

Team members are often taken for granted while performing their duties towards projects and also project these days requires more than the team members’ fair share in taking it to success. By project, I mean all projects, operations and labor that require human interference, guided by a human force. Least importance is/was given by the Team manager in understanding and motivating team members. After all, team members are human beings with varied interests, skill-sets, ambitions, goals, knowledge and exposure. If it is not for the team manager to understand and motivate team members, whose responsibility was it to reap the fullest from the team members. Give and takes are the two phenomenons that happen together most of the time, if any of these happen alone for a long time then you can soon expect either an unbreakable bond or a disastrous result. Also, projects these days are grueling, stressing, challenging and what not and hence if you are looking out for a grand success of your project, you have to start looking out for the success of the Team members as well.

1.1Why motivation important for Team’s success

Running a project with a motivated team is like putting the cruise control on a long drive. Motivated team already drives the project and hence that tapping need of the project manager is greatly reduced. A motivated team member increases the team’s motivation by many folds by being more responsible and actively taking part in team building exercises. A motivated team member not only drives himself but also the team. Lots of researches have proved that a de-motivated, de-moralized team member is only 60% effective. A motivated project team can take the same project in a different perspective and could prove to be very successful. But this doesn’t mean all unsuccessful projects are a reason of non-motivated members. There could be a lot of reasons for a project to be non-successful, but a motivational team will not leave it to die as easy.

A team has to have a motivation count of atleast 6 out of 10 (based on ladder approach below) to be successful on a project. The count of 6 is derived from my own research on my colleagues and friends and is a good possibility. Project manager knows the difficulty of managing the non-motivated team members and only way to get them perform is to push them to the goal post. It leads to a lot of aftermaths, in fact.

In addition to all of the benefits, results of effective Motivation management includes

  • Improved workplace culture
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved Creativity
  • Improved employee presence
  • Improved involvement and taking ownerships
  • Improved team interaction
  • Creating hyper environment of high achievers
  • Goal and vision oriented team
  • Reduced attrition
  • Reduced lay-offs due to improved business

Ladder Theory – Simple motivational theory

I have been wondering for long to have a chart that says where my team mate/member stands as far as the motivation is concerned. Hardly as a team leader or a manager, have we got time to sit and think about these things. Art and part of project manager’s job is to keep an eye on team member’s growth and motivational level. If the motivation of a team member reduces (how often do we know it reduces!) we should be able to re-align our tools to get that back on track. Ofcourse, the Tool-kit varies from manager to manager.

1.1Ladder Depiction

Below is the motivational chart I have devised to understand my team member’s motivational count and re-align the objectives to get that back onto track.

Motivational Categories


Motivation count

Basic Needs (4)


Work Interest (2)


Recognitions (1)


Growth (1)


Attitude (1)


Vision oriented (1)


The motivational counts are measured on step-on-step basis and Ladder model gives a quick snap-shot of where the project’s motivational count stands.

It is the responsibility of the Team manager to monitor the team’s motivational count frequently and react to bridge the gaps.

1.2Understanding the level of motivation

Basic needs (4 counts)

It depicts the basic or fundamental needs of a team member, which when not satisfied properly could lead to attrition or dissatisfaction. This is allotted a highest of 4 counts. Prime of them are listed below

  • Job security
  • Fair pay
  • Friendly surroundings (colleagues, administrative staffs,.)
  • Fair treatment at work
  • Good work environment
  • Good organizational policies

Project Managers do not have direct hold on the above motivational factors except to some extent on Fair treatment, Fair pay and Job security.

The count is given <=4 based on the number of criteria getting satisfied. It is upto the project managers to generate counts based on the number of criteria satisfied. Mostly, the count varies from 2.5 to 4. Count of 2 or less is very hard to recoil without the intervention of organization or individual’s attitude. Count of 3.5 and above is a favorable count.

Work Interest (2 counts)

Researches prove that most of the employees leave jobs in search of favorable and challenging jobs. Hence interest at work plays a major role in motivating individuals at work. This is allotted 2 counts. This include

  • Challenging and interesting jobs
  • Less stressful jobs
  • Flexible hours at work
  • Working from home options
  • Traveling jobs

Based on jobs’ nature and requirements, Project Manager has full control over this category. If the current work is not challenging or interesting then project manager is responsible for providing interesting assignments or offer trainings on individual’s expertise.

Count < 0.5 is very risky and count > 1.5 is very favorable. Continuous low count on this category leads to attrition or non-productive performance.

Recognitions (1 count)

Recognitions are a primary tool for motivating team members. This takes a major cover in improving the performance of achievers. It includes

  • Accreditation
  • Hikes
  • Trainings
  • Incentives
  • Rewards
  • Perks
  • Outings
  • Appreciation Lunches
  • Competitions and team building exercises

Project manager takes full responsibility in providing recognitions to the members. Count less than 0.5 shows “all work and no play” type of scenario. The count is determined by the extent of individuals’ involvement and progress.

Growth (1 count)

Individual’s growth within the organization proves vital for the long term stay of the individual within the organization. Growth includes

  • Promotions
  • Higher designations
  • More responsibilities
  • Feeling recognized
  • Involvement in decision making

Growth in the organization does not happen often and hence project manager gets more responsibility of giving higher responsibilities to team members and make them feel recognized. Count between 0.5 and 1 is optimal in this category. If the team member is a new recruit keep the point to the highest.

For instance, the count is set to 0 or 0.25 if the team member was denied a growth during the promotion cycle and few of his/her colleagues were given growth. This could be counterpoised by managers’ ability in improving on other categories like recognitions, interest at work etc.,

Attitude (1 count)

This is one of the motivational categories where project manager do not have much hold. Attitude of the team member is vital in team play, team activities and project execution to some extent. Includes

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Involvement
  • Team play skills

Count between 0.5 and 1 is optimum in this case. It also depends on the project managers’ ability to understand the attitude of the team member.

Vision oriented (1 count)

Goal or vision oriented professionals are mostly self-motivated and motivated towards the project as well. Alignment of personal goal with that of professional work proves perfect motivation by vision. This category includes

  • Goal specific individual
  • Self-driven
  • Alignment of personal goal with professional goal

It is responsibility of project manager to assist team members in goal setting (short or long) and eventual achievement.

The chart can be modified to add additional factors onto each category based on requirements and need.

1.3Effective usage of Ladder Chart

Project Managers are used to checking metrics, progress, schedule, resource density, efforts very often. Depending on the size of the projects they are checked either once a month or weekly or sometimes daily. Now it is time to check and maintain the motivation count of team members and effectively that of the team or project. Maintaining the motivation count not only helps project progress but also keeps team members healthy, happy and performing.

·Do maintain the motivation chart of team members and keep measuring it month after month.

·Since measurement is based on the judgment of the project manager, it is very important to not to have prejudice on any grounds.

·Trying to know more about the team member helps deducing closer counts.

·Discuss with team member on his/her outlook on the above points Eg., put (not so direct) questions to them like

oCan you briefly define your growth in your organization

oWhat was your recent big recognition within the organization or project

·Discuss visions/goals with the team member

·Understand the attitude by their team play skills and other interactions

·Maintain and act on the motivation counts.

·Chart helps in understanding the early signs of de-motivation in team members


Team’s motivation count can be deduced by taking an average of team member’s motivation count. A team motivation count of 6 and above is a favorable score. A score less than 4 has to seriously taken into consideration and improved. This type of motivational management is very helpful in big and long projects as they tend a greater dependency on team members. Usage of this theory emphasis the consideration of motivational management as a part of Project Management.

About the Author

Shriram Narayanan is a technology consultant and project manager with India’s one of the premier organizations. He is mainly focused on Application, Integration and Data Architecting and is a .Net technologist. He holds various certifications including PMP (Project Management Professional from PMI), Microsoft Certifications like MCAD.NET, MCP. His background includes Master’s in Computer Applications and Bachelors in Mathematics. He currently lives with his wife in Federal way, Washington. He could be reached at

1 comment to Shriram Narayanan PMP: Motivational Management

  • manoj pillai

    hi shriram,
    read through your article,
    the points which you have explained are very useful for the successful completion of a project
    i specially like the ladder chart secttion
    i wanted to know that after completing PMP certifiaction, how much growth will be get in the job market
    and one more thing is PMP certification so useful


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