What Demotivates Project Team Members?

An effective Project Manager should be able to identify what makes team members tick and what doesn't. There's a need to understand and avoid what demotivates team members so that team morale can be improved and sustained.

Here are some examples of demotivators that every Project Manager should be aware of:

1. Constraint Stress – There are 6 basic constraints facing projects – Risk, resources, time, cost, quality and scope. A tightening of any of these factors can lead to stress on the project. Team members can easily become demotivated if they do not have the skills or training needed to do their jobs or if they have too much work to complete within the time they have been given. Project Managers should therefore endeavour to manage these constraints proactively since they cannot all be avoided on projects.

2. Little/No Management Support for Projects. People like to feel that what they do matters. If they get the feeling that their work is not important to the business or management, they will start to feel less inclined to complete their tasks. Project Managers should continue to reiterate the importance of the project to the team and ensure that management support is clearly visible to team members. In cases where management is not in support of the project, it's wise to consider that the project may not even be necessary at all.

3. Personal Conflicts – Where team members are like countries at war, demotivation stemming from gossip, lies and anger can spread like wildfire. As a Project Manager, it is important to be aware of and manage personal conflicts between team members. By organising team building activities and taking the time to understand the different personalities of team members, Project Managers can be the difference between a team that works together and one that is divided.

4. Reward/Recognition Inequality – When team members are treated differently, especially in the areas of rewards, recognition and work allocation, it can lead to demotivation and distrust. The Project Manager must be seen to be fair at all times, without meting out preferential treatment to "the favourites". Project Managers must also know how to match roles and salaries to the skills of team members and their development needs.

Demotivating factors can stifle productivity in project teams and retard the growth of the business as a whole. Project Managers must constantly be on the look out for signs of demotivation and address them proactively.