A recent study suggests that around a quarter of employees would confidently leave their current jobs for a 5% pay raise. This concerning statistic is indicative of the fact that the modern-day worker is quite often unmotivated.

Organizations depend on the people that work for them. However, in order to get the critical work done, businesses need to rely on skilled project managers to stimulate the unmotivated and uncommitted team members out there.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at a set of project management tips that will help project managers increase a team’s productivity. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

1. Establish an environment of openness

The essential qualities of a project environment are openness and acceptance. Junior, Middle, Senior, team members of all qualifications should never feel uncomfortable to speak their minds and providing their feedback on one or multiple aspects of a project, however controversial they are.

Professionals that feel free to express their points of view will always be more proactive, engaged, and creative. More importantly, an open working environment will allow you to identify some implicit assumptions held by the team that could, eventually, have an adverse effect on the quality of the work.

It is also essential to stimulate colleagues to really hear each other’s opinions. We are commonly conditioned to speak more than we listen. This aspect of the human condition should be slowly taken apart by instigating your team to engage in critical thinking and recognize a good idea when it’s being forwarded by anyone in the group, despite their rank or qualifications.

To do this, people need to be aware of the so-called “authority bias,” which often makes people accept someone’s opinions simply based on their status and not the arguments provided. You, as the project manager, as responsible for enforcing an accepting attitude towards all opinions.

2. Set the goals and be clear about them

There are little things that are as demotivating as ambiguous and poorly defined goals.

Very often, when project managers fail to delineate milestones and assign personal responsibilities clearly, this can cause an entire team to fall into personality clashes, low self-esteem, overruns, and, as a result, poorly executed products, along with dissatisfied stakeholders and clients.

So, what are the criteria for a well-defined goal that will allow your team members to navigate the project with confidence and deliver their tasks on time? The most straightforward approach to goals is having SMART goals, where SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Time-bound. 

Here’s a basic breakdown of what your goals should look like:

  • Specific – you need to establish the precise achievements you’re trying to reach. Ideally, you’ll also provide precise numbers to guide the team;
  • Measurable – you need to ensure that the tasks you’re setting are easily quantifiable;
  • Actionable – your goals need to be realistic. Setting goals that are just absurd will only contribute to low self-esteem and demotivation;
  • Relevant – your goals need to focus on the essential aspects of a project. It is often easy to fall into the trap of vanity metrics. Have respect for your team members’ time.
  • Time-bound – timeframes are a central component of efficient task execution. When your colleagues understand the time constraints of a project, it allows them to work effectively and prioritize.

3.   Let them know you trust their abilities

It’s safe to assume that micromanagement is a quality of an insecure project manager. It’s essential to have faith in the qualifications of your personnel and let them roll on their own. An environment that tries to control every living second and every single decision of a professional will gradually deteriorate their self-esteem and will harm their motivation.

Trust is an essential component of a successful team and business in general. Some project managers voice discontent with the idea of trust simply because it’s a very vague concept. However, the same can be said about a project manager’s or stakeholder’s satisfaction for that matter.

More importantly, a person that feels trusted will always be more proactive and creative compared to a professional that is but a tool whose competences are invalidated on a day-to-day basis.

Furthermore, communication is much more efficient and honest in an environment where professionals are respected and treated with trust.

4. Don’t ever punish failure

There is an essential difference between reacting to failure and responding to one. One of the central goals of an organization is to learn how to convert an individual’s failure into means to inspire them. At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that if they failed, they tried an approach that didn’t work.

They may have to take a more creative or daring route and responding with blaming, and punishment is an unreasonable and unproductive approach. One of the essential qualities of successful people is their overwhelming acceptance of failure. They don’t stop believing in themselves; they learn from it and build on it.

Plus, it’s arguably a great idea to allow your teammates to experiment and poke at exciting ideas. Organizations like Atlassian, Google, and Facebook have experimented with the so-called “20 percent time,” which enables their workers to take 20 percent of their work time and invest it in projects they find interesting. Many of these projects have failed and have never made it to the surface. Others, like Gmail, became industry staples.

Being supportive of your employees when they make mistakes is also essential because it will shape the way they’ll react to failure in the future, especially if it’s a junior professional. Instructing them to remain confident after failing will enable them to grow as professionals and individuals.

5. Encourage team play

Teams differ dramatically. There is a broad spectrum of characteristics and peculiarities that define how well people will collaborate in a particular team. However, it is also true that play-like conflict stimulates teammates to create stronger bonds.

Team building via collaborative games can help improve a variety of factors that are essential for group productivity and motivation. Here are a few of them:

  • Better teamwork — this allows team members to communicate efficiently, work together, and mitigate potential conflicts before they arise;
  • Better use of resources and personal qualities — this enables team members to complement their colleagues’ weaknesses with their own strengths, thus filling gaps in their team;
  • Better decision-making — this allows team members to make quicker decisions, by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their colleagues;
  • Greater commitment.

6. Respect their time

Having a meeting agenda is an essential component of a motivated team. First off, it’s imperative to have a detailed plan for the meeting at hand. Focus on discussing these particular topics only and stay away from distractions and make sure the meeting does not deviate from its initial course.

This reduces time expenditure and doesn’t bore your teammates. If your 8-person team has to sit through a bland one-hour meeting every time you have a standup in the morning, they will end up unmotivated and lose interest in their work.

When preparing an agenda, make sure to include sufficient time for everyone to be able to contribute to the conversation. Inform your team members about the topic of the meeting ahead of time, so that they can prepare for it and bring their arguments to the table.

A well-crafted meeting agenda will ensure that all the essential topics are covered. Workers have issues that they want and need to discuss in order to make sure that their interests are taken care of, and their opinions are taken into consideration. The lack thereof can often result in a lack of motivation and, in the long run, loss of interest in their job.

7. Provide opportunities for professional development

Talk with each team member about their individual career goals. People are passionate about growth and self-improvement. You can be the one that will help them become better professionals or facilitate this process. Sometimes a challenging task can be a sign of the trust you’ve invested in them.

Allow your employees to communicate with clients and stakeholders when this is necessary. This will allow them to have more self-esteem and grow their network.


Keeping your team motivated is a crucial task, and project managers are the people who are the most qualified to maintain high spirits because a project’s success depends on this.


Auhor Bio

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer.