Being Motivated in Today’s Business World

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My how things have changed! When attending a typical PMI meeting just a few years ago there would be several job openings announced with only a few candidates vying for those project management positions. As we all know, the market has drastically changed and we’re faced with a different set of problems to manage. Now we have staff members who may not be satisfied in their jobs but don’t dare attempt to change jobs due to the current business volatility. We have people managing projects, but we are not leveraging their full capabilities because there are no other options for that person within their department or even the company. Are these scenarios all-to-familiar to you?

So, what makes you WANT to go to work each day? How do we still look forward to heading to the office? In times like these, we have to work extra hard to motivate ourselves and our team members to instill positive, can-do attitudes. In these trying times, here are some steps to follow to help you and your team remain productive and satisfied:

Control what you can and let the rest go. As leaders there are ALWAYS things that are not in your control, but that doesn’t mean we give up! Look at the things that you CAN control and do those things well! Do you still have the authority to manage a small team of people? Do you still have responsibility to mentor junior team members? Take these roles and responsibilities to heart. Handle your current responsibilities to the very best of your ability. Be glad that you have a job and look for the things in your work environment that ARE fulfilling. Look for opportunities to help someone else out – giving to someone else just plain feels good! Even if you get “nothing in return” you’ll walk away knowing you’ve lent a helping hand to someone. Focus on what you can control and take full advantage of those responsibilities.

Stretch yourself! Is your job not challenging you? Find another avenue to challenge yourself. Earn your PMP if you don’t have it yet, take a class you’ve been meaning to take but keep telling yourself you don’t have time (or the money) to take, mentor someone, ask for genuine feedback from someone you know will be honest about your skills and take action on improving those skills, or read a book you’ve been meaning to complete. Don’t sit back and let the next 12 months slide by without improving YOUR skills – take care of #1 – THAT’S YOU! As adults we have a tendency to get into a slump and not stretch ourselves. When is the last time you felt stretched intellectually? If you can’t get that challenge from the office right now, get it elsewhere. Don’t forget about your team members too! Ensure they are finding ways to improve their skills as well.

Lighten up! That’s right; lighten up! In today’s stress-filled environment we need to take a step back and ask ourselves: “Is it truly worth our health and our relationships with our significant others to be this stressed?” Ask yourself, “What’s the worse thing that can happen?” Then, write down an action plan of what you would do IF that worse case scenario actually happened. This simple exercise will help you feel more in control and if the worse case scenario really does happen – you already have an action plan! Life is WAY too short to be stressed all the time. Remember, life is a journey, not a destination. Another approach is to take time for you – it may only be 10 minutes, but do it! Find a way to keep balanced and maintain some sort of work/life balance – whatever they may mean to you. If you don’t tend to your own needs, you certainly will not be capable of handling the demands and needs of your team members!

Have Fun! You’re probably wondering how on earth you’re supposed to do that during a time when jobs are constantly being cut and people are being asked to do more with less resources. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming and it’s needed NOW more than ever before. Plan a team event that’s cheap, yet uplifting. Do you need some ideas? Check out the book 301 Ways To Have Fun At Work – or call me for ideas! Plan a scavenger hunt in the office, have a baby photo contest, do something unusual or different at your next staff meeting (bring in treats or publicly reward a team member for a job well done), have a rubber chicken award of the month and give the chicken to the person with the best idea! Prominently display the chicken in the cubicle for the month. Soon everyone will want the chicken in his or her cubicle! Project management is a serious topic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun at work. We don’t have to take ourselves so seriously!

Write down the 5 reasons why you choose the career you perform right now. What do you like about your profession? What makes you excited about your profession? When times get tough we have a tendency to forget about the positive elements of our jobs. Have all your team members do this as an exercise to 1) learn about your team members 2) focus on the good things about your profession of choice. For instance, I love project management because of the diversity of each project, the challenge of managing both technical and business situations, and working with people from a variety of different backgrounds.

I realize times are tough right now. I have WAY too many talented professional friends seeking work right now. For those who are fortunate enough to have jobs – MAKE THE BEST OF IT. Control what you can, stretch yourself and have fun! Eventually our business market will change and we’ll have a whole new set of problems before us. For now – focus on the current challenge of keeping yourself and your team motivated! As project managers, that’s our job right now! For those of you who might be looking for work right now, the opportunity to expand your capabilities as discussed here is ripe for the taking. Take a class, work through your network (or expand it). Using your project management tools is the best way to get back into a role where you can shine.

Denise is President of Mindavation, a company that provides project management training and consulting, team building, and leadership seminars to companies worldwide. Mindavation is a Registered Education Provider with PMI. Denise can be contacted at 303 255-4082 or The Mindavation website is:

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