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Newsletter August 2019


Emotional Intelligence and Motivation

What do you do when your project managers (PMs) discover the carrot and stick isn’t working? Your employees may be saying, “I don’t want to work with that PM. His/her projects are always so____” (fill in an adjective that indicates poor motivation).

When we hear this at GBMC, we suspect it may be something closely related to EI: your PMs are not in touch with what motivates their team members. Although current research indicates that the ability to motivate others is not specifically part of the EI construct, it is a related leadership skill.

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So, here are some tips to help your PMs motivate their teams.

Relate self-motivation to motivating teams. When training PMs on how to motivate others, challenge them to look inside themselves first. The EI construct does include self-motivation. Similar to the notion that you have to lead yourself well before you can lead others, we propose that PMs have to know what motivates themselves, first. When asked, PMs usually come up with a list that resembles what the motivational gurus have been telling us for years. So why the disconnect? Self-awareness seems to be the culprit. Help your PMs reflect inward, and then expose them to the latest thinking in team motivation.

Reward PMs who model self-motivation. Here’s how to spot them. They say and do things that demonstrate they are driven to improve and achieve. They know how to create a compelling vision about the goals of the project and build team commitment. They take the initiative to solve problems and remove road blocks for their team. They exude optimism about their project and their team. When adversity hits, they bounce right back.

Pay attention to extrinsic motivators. Use existing people processes like performance evaluations, professional development planning, or talent reviews to identify and put in place those external factors that support or increase the motivation of your workforce. Ensure your PMs are aware of these processes and external motivators, and make it easy and desirable for PMs to take advantage of them.

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