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Created on 07 July 2007 Written by Jean Binder
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commitmentThe study of motivation concerns those processes that give behaviour its energy and direction. Energy implies that behaviour has strength that it is relatively strong, intense and persistent. Direction implies that behaviour has purpose that is aimed toward achieving a particular goal (Johnmarshall Reeve)  


Motivation can be defined as an individual process that provides energy and direction to adopt a specific behaviour or perform a determined task. In project management, the energy must ensure the team members will complete their tasks on time, and the direction needs to lead the tasks performed toward the project vision, mission and goals, following pre-determined strategies. Each individual can initiate a self-motivation process by understanding how the task can satisfy personal or professional needs, suit expectations and beliefs and invoke positive emotions.


When working with team members from other countries over a distance, the challenge is higher, as suggested by Staples, Wong and Cameron (2004), ‘Tasks may appear unconnected, the big picture is not always easy to visualise, and it may be difficult for employees to remain committed to the project.’ The cultural dimensions are a good starting point to pre-empt the possible values and beliefs of people you seldom meet face-to-face. One-to-one telephone discussions and local coordinators can help you to obtain individual feedback from each key team member and monitor their reactions and emotions. You can compare these feedback elements to the original assumptions and adapt your attitude and leadership style.


In the chapter 2 of the book. I describe how to increase the level of motivation by making use of the roles and responsibilities. A classic tool for this is McClelland’s achievement motivation theory, which groups individuals according to their need for achievement, affiliation and power (adapted from Rad and Levin, 2003):

·        Achievement-oriented individuals seek attainable but challenging goals and feedback on their performance.

·        Affiliation-oriented people desire to be part of a group and have human interaction roles.

·        Power-oriented team members aspire to make an impact and to be recognised as influential and effective.




Sources:  Rad, P. and Levin, G. (2003) ‘Achieving Project Management Success using Virtual Teams’ (J. Ross Publishing, USA) 

Reeve, J. (2001) ‘Understanding motivation and emotion – third edition’ (John Wiley & Sons, USA) 

Staples, D. S., Wong, I. K.and Cameron, A. F. (2004) ‘Best practices for virtual team effectiveness’ in Pauleen D. J. (Ed) ‘Virtual teams: Projects, protocols and processes’ (Idea Group Publishing, UK)

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 23:20
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