Helping team members see their purpose on a project can provide
motivation in tough times.
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, FAPM, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
As project managers we’re tasked with taking disparate individuals and turning them into teams. One of the biggest challenges we have is motivating each person to cooperate and
collaborate as part of a group.
Prior to the global recession, people typically subscribed to
the idea of working for either money (affluence) or pleasure
(hedonism). In the current landscape, however, the lure of a
bonus, pay raise or even advancement has been replaced for
many people by the threat of reduced hours or even a loss of
work. The rapid decline or reshaping of a wide range of businesses has created considerable anxiety regarding job security
and longevity of service.
As people search for a more meaningful orientation to
work, project managers have an opportunity to help
individuals feel a sense of belonging and purpose—and boost
the team’s morale and productivity.
I’ve chosen to leverage logotherapy, an approach created by
Viennese neurologist Viktor Frankl, MD, Ph.D. Beyond
pleasure or power, he identified an additional motivator: logos,
the Greek word for “meaning.” Dr. Frankl is swift to clarify
this has no relation to spirituality or religion—the meaning
here relates to finding purpose in one’s life or tasks.
Logotherapy enables individuals to see how they add value
through the tasks they perform—alleviating concerns about
how each of us contributes in our job roles.
My premise is for people to understand the purpose of
their tasks, the outcomes required, and personal and professional benefits of contributing to the work.
I believe logotherapy provides a valuable core to all interactions associated with a project, both with the immediate team
and the wider stakeholder group. Having reason to rise to each
day not only motivates project managers and their teams, but
also illustrates leadership to stakeholders.
longer projects, where the outcomes are distant and unclear.
Individuals work almost in a suspended state, neither driven
by the project launch nor by a tangible pull toward project
Through logotherapy, project managers can stimulate
desire to achieve objectives by taking time to define why tasks
and deliverables are important or necessary to the
project. Project managers
can also offer threads of
meaning that suggest how
will facilitate the overall
project outcome or indicate
which stakeholders that
person’s work relates to.
At the conclusion of a
project, logotherapy helps
us focus on what the project
delivered or achieved. This
meaning can be illustrative
both for recognition and
reward. Projects in health,
volunteer and emergency
services offer immediate
clarity of meaning and value. For those of us in other environments where the meaning may not be as obvious, we can apply
logotherapy to ensure our teams find value in their contributions, too. This can be shown by illuminating the increased
quality, service or satisfaction of the stakeholders throughout
the project and ultimately at its conclusion.
The current project landscape can be disconcerting.
Project managers can help alleviate that anxiety by
helping team members—and themselves—find logos in
their work. PM
to see how they
add value through
the tasks they
how each of us
contributes in our
Applied logotherapy may influence how we speak to one
another—putting the focus on making each interaction meaningful, and ensuring meetings and reports are productive both
individually and collectively. This is particularly relevant in
Sheilina Somani, FAPM, PMP, is the
owner of U.K.-based Positively Project
Management, providing consulting, men-
toring and development services.