How to create a culture of self-motivation in a team

by Don Lowe

March 21, 2019
Reading Time: 2 minutes

​Motivation - the key to success

Building motivation and collaboration within an agile project team is essential for success. Every team member is expected to deliver quality work efficiently and to be committed to the tasks at hand; all in order to meet success rates. 

​There is a right and a wrong way to motivate people

Should you “motivate people to achieve something” or “provide opportunities for people to become motivated”?

​Motivate people to achieve something

When the culture in a team is to “motivate people to achieve something”, there is normally a reward of some sort. Often money is used as the means of motivation. Teams like this are given work items to be delivered by a certain date and there is little flexibility on time, cost and scope variables. There is a backlog of requirements that grow, resulting in other work items not getting delivered on time. Management focuses on keeping everyone fully occupied all the time but that runs the risk of burn-out due to excessive workloads. It gives employees a reason to leave. Senior managers need to step in and take over as they think they can do a better job.

Threats and rewards alike, tend to back-fire under these circumstances.

Motivation is created by providing opportunities

Rather than trying to motivate people, another approach is to provide opportunities for people to achieve results so that they become motivated by their own actions and achievements. Individuals draw satisfaction and pride from delivering a good product or service. This change in approach with both the employer and the employee is for free.

Forbytes how to create a culture of self-motivation in a team illustration failure to reach goal finish line carrot

​For people, culture is critical to success

The culture of your organisation is more important than the methodology or tools that you use. Without the right culture the methodology has no chance. This is particularly relevant for agile methodologies. Agile development teams, by their very nature, need to comprise of disciplined and motivated individuals that work well together.

If you want to adopt an agile methodology like Scrum or Kanban, then make sure you have the right culture. 

​Self-motivation is the fuel for learning and improvements

Motivation must come from within. Management can facilitate self-motivation by creating opportunities for individuals to flourish while solving challenges that interest them.