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Usually the overall project team performance begins to decease when there are team members who are not actively participate to the team performance. Project manager should find out the best methods and techniques to treat this transitory loss of concentration. This paper is discussing a guideline that will provide all required tools to the project manager to retain the project team work performance.

In this paper we will analysis team structure and team life cycle. Then elaborate on team characteristics models. Which is important to be able to analysis the team. And figure out faults if exist. Then we will analysis the team member personalities types. In order to align the team member with the correct role. Then we will emphasis on Motivation and Rewards and Recognition. Those theories need to be applied individualistically for each team member.


The most critical factor of any project success is the team combination. If the team is not will structured and synchronized to achieve the project objectives. Then, this project mostly will fail.

In order to motivate team members we need to understand the team characteristics and the team development life cycle. Sometimes the employee is misplaced in the team where he need to be located in the accurate position.
Then, we need to understand, what is the personality type of each one of the employee. before starting to motivate the team member we need “determine the team members personal style (using MBTI system or other framework for describing individual differences” (Levin & Flannes, 2005).

Understanding the team characteristics and personality type of the team member allow us to apply the accurate motivation techniques.

Applying the correct motivation techniques is a major challenge. There are many motivation theories. Although, applying such techniques or combination of them required deep analysis for both team characteristics and personality type of the team members.
In this paper we will go through the most famous motivation theories. Those theories need to be applied carefully in order to make sure that team member is motivated and not over motivated.

The Team

Every success business or project is a result of successful team work. According to (Katzenbach & Smith, 2015, p. 41) “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”.

Management of the teams and making sure that they are committed to a common purpose is not an easy task. There are a lot of challenges. Although, the main challenge of the project manager is to make sure that the team is heading to achieve the same objectives

“If you want to lead a team, a company, an army, or a country, the primary problem you face is getting everyone moving in the same direction, which is really just a polite way of saying “getting people to do what you want”.” (Spolsky, 2008, p. 35).

Usually, People follow the leaders and obey the instructions of their commanders because of numerous reasons. In 1959, French and Raven described five bases of power.

  • Legitimate – a formal right to make demands.
  • Reward – ability to compensate another for compliance.
  • Expert – high levels of skill and knowledge.
  • Referent – attractiveness, worthiness and right to others’ respect.
  • Coercive – ability to punish others for noncompliance.

A great leader combined those power bases. And use a truthful mixture of each base.

“For real involvement, people need to see the value, excitement and challenge of what they do. Command-control leaders tell. Servant leaders include, discuss, take ideas, look for ways to help people come on board, and celebrate every success that comes along” (Leary-Joyce, 2004, p. 39)

Before we move to team characteristics, it is important to highlight the team growth or development life cycle theory. (Tuckman, 1965) proposed that every team will go through number of stages before they achieve the maturity

  • Forming stage – this is the very early stage of each team. Where they are a collection of individuals and trying to make an initial impression.
  • Storming stage – as per the title, this is the stage of conflict and turbulence in the team. It is important stage that verify the team cohesion.
  • Norming stage – where the team start establish norms and practices. Often referred to as the “team processes”. This is a critical foundation of the next stage.
  • Performing stage – the team will reach this stage when successfully complete the above three stages and the team reach the maturity.

Team Characteristics

Every team has its characteristics which determine the team internal processes and working efficiency. Team characteristics are subject of extensive researches to define those specific characteristics that will lead to a high performing team.
In this case, we will study the two most famous team characteristics models (Belbin Model and Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)). Utilizing those model is a challenge by itself. Thus, I suggest to use one of those models.

“it can be difficult to integrate the two models. In fact, their combined use could sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help in team development.” (Passmore, 2012)

Belbin Model

Belbin model or the nine Belbin Team Roles is a very famous team characteristics model developed by British researcher Doctor Raymond Meredith Belbin and his research team at the Henley Management College in the 1970s. Dr. Belbin mentioned the approach that he used in his research “A team is not a bunch of people with job titles, but a congregation of individuals, each of whom has a role which is understood by other members. Members of a team seek out certain roles and they perform most effectively in the ones that are most natural to them. “ (Belbin, 2012).

Dr. Belbin research led to a conclusion that every high performing team has to cover the nine team roles. The team should carry their daily routine and tasks through these nine roles the teams and cooperate it in a synergic environment.

“each team toles is associated with a particular way of behaving, contributing and interrelating with other members of the team. A balanced team need to have a good mix of each team roles, and not too many of any particular one”. (Scott, 2016)

It is acceptable in some scenarios for one team member to cover more than one role. Thus, nine team members is not always mandatory in the nine Belbin Team Roles.
Furthermore, it is a common misinterpreted fact that all nine roles have inevitable be covered. Where Dr. Belbin himself acknowledges that it is acceptable to omit one or more roles without a negative effect on the team performance in some certain cases of specialized teams. Below I list a summarization of the nine Belbin Team roles:

  • Plant: tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways. They are creative, imaginative, free-thinking, generates ideas and solves difficult problems. Although, they might ignore incidentals, and may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively. And they could be absentminded or forgetful.
  • Resource investigator: uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team. They are outgoing, enthusiastic. Explores opportunities and develops contacts. Although, they might be over-optimistic, and can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed. And they might forget to follow up on a lead.
  • Coordinator: needed to focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately. They are mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals. Although, they can be seen as manipulative and might offload their own share of the work. And they might over-delegate, leaving themselves little work to do.
  • Shaper: provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum. They are challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles. Although, they can be prone to provocation, and may sometimes offend people’s feelings. And they could risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done.
  • Monitor evaluator: provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way. They are sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately. Although, sometimes lacks the drive and ability to inspire others and can be overly critical. And they could be slow to come to decisions.
  • Teamworker: helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team. They are co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction. Although, they can be indecisive in crunch situations and tends to avoid confrontation. And they might be hesitant to make unpopular decisions.
  • Implementer: needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible. They are practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organizes work that needs to be done. Although, they can be a bit inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities. And they might be slow to relinquish their plans in favor of positive changes.
  • Completer finisher: most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control. They are painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polishes and perfects. Although, they can be inclined to worry unduly, and reluctant to delegate. And, they could be accused of taking their perfectionism to extremes.
  • Specialist: brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team. They are single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. They provide specialist knowledge and skills. Although, they tend to contribute on a narrow front and can dwell on the technicalities. And, they overload you with information.

Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The second model is the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs in the 1950s. this model was design in order to smooth the understanding of psychological types. The MBTI identify four individual preferences:

  • Extraversion versus Introversion (E vs. I) – Where the team member focus his attention
  • Sensing versus Intuition (S vs. N) – The way team member takes in information
  • Thinking versus Feeling (T vs. F) – How the team member makes decisions
  • Judging versus Perceiving (J vs. P) – How the team member deal with the world

The first three options describe a person orientation toward life, where the last option is a person orientation to outer world. The above four individual preferences resulted in 16 possible types. Myers–Briggs Type Indicator is considered one of the oldest, most reliable and valid team characteristics models. This model has been tested and proved on millions of peoples. This model is solid way to understand the human dynamic both in works and social life.

The Motivation

So far, we have analyzed the team both as collective unit and as performing individuals. These characteristics build up the essentials of a functional team. Now it is the time to elaborate the engine that direct the whole team forward. The power that lead the team to achieve the ultimate performance. Motivation is an area mostly researched among psychology experts since it is the most important factor of any team success. The behavioral school of management work hard to expand knowledge about human needs and motivation. Although,

“There are many motivation theories in existence, but matching those theories to real humans remain an art form” (Richardson, 2014, p. 202)

Project manager communications skills and plan are critical factor for the employee motivation. If the project manager miscommunicates the project objectives or the expectations from each team member. Then mostly the team member will not be aligned with what the project manager trying to accomplish.

Huszczo remarked that “motivation is basically a function of two things: expectations and reinforcements” (Huszczo, 2004, p. 198) Although and before process to the theories, we need to understand the four positions that define the basic principles of developing high work motivation and performance among their employees.
below Picture shows these positions with respect for the Ability/Skill and the Motivation/Drive axis.

  • Unwilling and Unable: lack any internal drive and motivation and no abilities or skills that would be useful for the team or project.
  • Unwilling and Able: high qualities in the area of technical or other expertise which is somehow valuable for the performance. Although they lack motivation or internal drive.
  • Willing and Unable: They are willing to work hard and reach for distant goals still at the beginning of their intellectual and spiritual growth
  • Willing and Able: action-ready employees. They have both the skill and the will for what it takes to be a key team member performing at the highest possible levels.

Theory X and Theory Y

This theory developed by Douglas McGregor in 1975. It is based on the assumption that there are two kinds of people. Theory X where the employee does not want to work and need to be supervised and micromanaged. And theory Y where the employee look to the work as natural.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This is the most broadly used and mentioned theories of people motivation. Maslow’s pyramid demonstrations the Hierarchy of Needs which cover the 5 layers of needs which must be satisfied and pleased in the same sequence order (down-top). Mr. Maslow suggests that failing in any level will prevent the progress to the next level.

“So, if you want to motivate someone, according to Maslow, you need you understand what level of the hierarchy that person is currently on and focus on satisfying the needs at or above that level” (Robbins, 2009, p. 145).

There are two principles underlying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs “(1) People’s needs can be arranged in a hierarchy, or ranking of importance, and (2) once a need has been satisfied, it no longer serves as a primary motivator of behaviour.” (Mosley, et al., 2014, p. 207)

  • Physiological needs: Physiological needs are the physical supplies for human existence. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail.
  • Safety or Security: when Physiological needs satisfied. The person starts looking for Safety or Security needs
  • Social or Belonging: when Safety or Security requirement are met. The human start looking for interpersonal and involves feelings of belongingness.
  • Ego or Esteem: then the human need to feel respected. need to have self-esteem and self-respect.
  • Self-actualization: this is the ultimate level, the desire to accomplish everything that one can and to become the most that one can be.

in HR and motivation , Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be used as :

  • Self-actualization: Learning new skills, growing and developing, feeling a sense of accomplishment, exercising responsibility.
  • Ego or Esteem: Praise, recognition, promotion getting one’s name in the company paper as “employee of the month”, being given more responsibility, being asked for help and advice.
  • Social or Belonging: work group, group meetings, company-sponsored events.
  • Safety or Security: safe working conditions, pensions and benefits, Job security, Fair treatment and fair grievance system
  • Physiological needs: Pay, Rest Breaks, Clean Air.

Expectancy theory

The Expectancy theory was developed to understand the how people motivated in the 1960s by Victor Vroom. This theory suggest that the motivation is a result multiplicative function of valence (value you place on the reward), instrumentality (you will receive a reward if you meet performance expectations) and expectancy (effort will result in your desired goal).

Rewards and Recognition

Companies and project manager uses Rewards (extrinsic motivation) and Recognition (intrinsic motivation) in order to motivate employee and team members.
Rewards and Recognition must be used carefully. the misapplication of the rewards and recognitions might lead to confusing and demotivating other employees.

According to (Lewis, 2003) “rewards create compliance and not commitment”.

The project manager should decide when and how to rewards the team or the individual member. Also, a clear indicators and performance measures were established that is Necessary to emphasis transparency and will allow every team member to understand when and how to get rewarded.

(Jorgensen, 1996, p. 87) point out that “there is no standard rewards that work all the time for all groups of employees”.

Also, the he mentioned that “diversity of employees, ages and interests make each employee population unique”.


in order to motivate team members, we need to understand the overall team situation (i.e. team development maturity, team members roles, team structures …etc.). understanding the team’s overall statues will allow us to figure out if there is a problem with team formation and establishment.

After making sure that the team was structured and formatted accurately. We need to analysis each case separately.
In order to understand each team member situation. If the team member is unwilling and unable, this category is the worst starting point of developing employees and successful managers usually do not even consider people in this category to be a part of their teams. A huge investment and resources would be required to put this member back on track. Thus, a qualified replacement would be cheaper and more efficient option.

then, if the team member previously shown considerable levels of skill and ability to work hard. We need to understand the personality type. Is there is any conflict in the team characteristics. Then, the project manager should review the lessons learned from previous projects. What would motivate him? Did he satisfy the current level and want to achieve the next desire level?


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