Sunday, March 10, 2013

Motivating a Business Intelligence team, igniting the self-passion

Who does not want to be great? But, are you willing to pay the price? If countless hard work hours and sleeping nights come to mind then it means you are not committed enough. What drives the human spirit to go beyond established boundaries? The answer: motivation.

Motivation has existed since the beginning of the time, at it is basic level it is instinct. Our ancestors were motivated to survive, so they found ways to more effectively leverage their resources as a community, living in caverns to protect themselves from the elements, hunting together to get a bigger prey, etc. While motivation is indeed root to the human spirit, how is it that some people perform better than others? Are they faster, smarter, or more energetic? May be, may be not, but I can tell you that my experience dictates that the outcome of something is directly correlated to the motivation that we have to get it done.

Let us put it in our context, how many of you have been placed in a team to execute a Business Intelligence program and you felt like the people around you did not have the skills to make it happen? What happened to the project? Did it fail because a developer lacked the latest training in the ETL tool? Maybe your graphic designer used red extensively and he/she doomed the project in the eyes of management? Take a step back and analyze the team logically. How many of the team members were truly motivated for the program to succeed? And if they were motivated what was driving them: a bonus for completing the project, a promotion, visibility between their pears, or recognition from management? There are many external factors that might partially motivate or de-motivate a person, but nothing is as powerful as the person adopting the goal as its own. External motivation needs to get continually renewed and after a while you need more of it to get the person going, but once the goal has been owned by the individual nothing will stop him/her of getting to the finish line.

 So, how do we motivate someone to the level that the motivation can be self-sustaining? The answer is we don’t, this is a level of maturity that cannot be forced upon an individual but needs to be achieved on one’s own means. Does this mean that I as the project lead cannot do anything to motivate my people? Far from it, in fact the project lead has a unique responsibility towards the team of facilitating the achievement of self-motivation for each team member. In order to accomplish this, the project lead needs to understand his/her own motivations, why does this project have to succeed? What are the implications of not achieving the goal? As a project lead you need to make sure you yourself are motivated and identify the rationale behind. Needless to say that if you are not motivated, you should ask your management for a different assignment.

Next you need to recognize that everybody is motivated to different degrees by different external factors and what you consider essential might not be on the critical list for one of your team members. In a perfect world, you should know your team well and understand how they react to stimulus. In practice, most times, you will have no clue as there will be at least one (if not many) new members in your team. As such, it is your responsibility that the team understands the business goals of the project, what is the positive impact that the project will create for the company and paint the most vivid picture of accomplishing the goal.

The human spirit is relentless when searching for motivation; it does not take much to ignite the fire of passion in each individual triggering their need for contribution to a larger goal that will result in the benefit of the collective. In fact, think that you are not alone, millennia of evolution stands behind you; if not we would be still living in caverns and then you would not need to worry about the project.


1 comment:

Nagaraj Sastry said...

Good Blog. People do what they want to and not what you want them to do. Maturity takes long to sink into people and thats why projects fail and inspite of having capable resources. I have been fortunate to be in the company of resources who didnt possess the technical skills to make projects successful but the projects were successful due to the high motivation levels as a camaraderie was created at all levels of the project org structure and everyone took both blame and credit for the work done. We have a few leaders like that today but mostly managers and hence the reason for failures.