11 Dec How to create self-motivating teams? Accountability.
It’s a constant question: How do you inspire your team to better perform? Everyone seems to have their own varying ideas of how to best motivate a team. We’re not suggesting that when you finish reading this you’ll have the perfect formula to magically make every project a success. But hopefully you will have another tool in your arsenal to improve the efficiency and success rate of your teams and the projects they undertake.
The tool is called accountability. Finding ways to spread accountability- a person’s personal responsibility or stewardship- to every member of a team is crucial to enable a team to rise to greater heights. Things like weekly team huddles creates high levels of accountability for every person who touches a project. This helps instill a sense of responsibility in each member to contribute to the team and its success. Because they know that whenever their teams next huddle is, they are going to have to report on the progress they’ve made and how they’ve contributed.
Most of the time, for better or worse, the project manager is the person most in the spotlight. However, when accountability is dispersed more evenly throughout the team, everyone on the team feels the same pressures as the manager. This stress-balancing fosters a number of positive behaviors. Hallway conversations begin to focus on what the boards or reports will show on the coming Monday. Team members tune in to the ups and downs of the project and tend to work more closely together than project teams where accountability rests mainly on the project manager. Knowledge is power—and the more knowledge the team has, the better its daily decisions.
A company that operates this way is also likely to see some spillovers from the high level of accountability. Separate project teams may begin to compete with each other. A little competition of this sort is healthy. But there’s a more interesting behavior that often emerges as well. If one team is struggling to keep its project profitable and on time, other teams may raise their games to offset the potential negatives. This might involve suggestions designed to improve the ailing project, or it might increasing the productivity of the successful teams’ own projects to counter the losses from the laggard. Competitiveness rarely gets in the way of concern for the company’s overall financial health, particularly when all of the project teams share the wins and losses.
When accountability is shared among team members- and sometimes even amongst teams- it creates a sense of individual responsibility within members to perform at their best, so their team is able to perform at its best. When done correctly, accountability can drive a sense of individualism and team commitment at the same time. With those two drivers combined, you are well on your way to a higher performing team.
Source: Project Management for Profit by Roger Thomas, Joe Knight and Brad Angus, together with input from Joe Cornwell and Joe Van Den Berghe from Setpoint Inc. Setpoint