Any team from time to time requires support to get through the long road of a major project. Virtual project team are no exception, but like most items related to virtual teams it becomes a little more complex to find ways to properly motivate a team or team members. Simple rewards or recognition can go a long way to help promote and sustain the motivation needed to successfully complete the project.
Rewards can take many forms from a spot bonus, to a paid day off, to a simple Thanks for staying late. A project manager and project leads have a lot of options they can use such as local team lunches, a lunch for the person who is the best performer of the week for the entire team, gift certificates for extra special efforts, a simple paper award for the team member of the month, or bring in the project sponsor to speak to the entire team or local team. The key to any reward is to have a purpose. Make sure there that the person is truly deserving, and be fair in that team members in all locations should be recognized if deserving.
The project manager also has a key tool in the status report. People like to see their name in lights for doing a good job, and so the project manager should use the status report as a vehicle to call out the specific accomplishments or sacrifices of team members.
Finally, make the work assignments as challenging as possible. Engaging work goes a long way in keeping a team member motivated that their contributions are meaningful and tie back to the overall vision and purpose of the project.
Virtual project teams are more complex in comparison to a traditional, single-site project team, and have more opportunity to fail given the additional risks. These five steps will not only mitigate the major risks but will empower the project manager and project leads to increase the efficiency and performance of the team thus increasing the overall probability to deliver a successful project.
Ron Ponce is president of Fog City Consulting, a San Francisco-based program and project management consulting firm, which specializes in organizational infrastructure, project delivery, and professional development and training services. He can be reached at email@example.com.