Get your ducks in a row by Mark Gray

Get your ducks in a row by Mark Gray

Speaker: Mark Gray

Project Manager, France Atlantique Chapter President

SigmaPM - Vaubadon

Tuesday, 8 May - 11.00–12.15 - 1 hour, 15 minutes

Summary: Getting your ducks in a row requires more than just putting some planks on either side; you need to have the right motivators and drivers in place. In this presentation we will get rid of the stick and look at selecting the right carrots for inspiring team performance. Learning objectives

maurel-celine.jpgReport by: 

Céline Maurel, PMP

France Sud Chapter


Get your ducks in a row by Mark Gray


With a dynamic style combining humor with hard facts to stimulate discussion, Mark Gray states that motivating teams is not easy and that motivation efforts can be counter-productive.

1.    Why motivating teams is not easy?

a.    Very few people are natural leaders like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, …

b.    The leadership ability is inherent but needs to be developed to reach the full potential. Different theories give good guidance to develop leadership (Maxwell, Lencioni, Pink, …).

c.    Many PM have a technical background that gives them a logical mindset and management trainings focus on methods to analyze and maintain the baselines. So they are often ill to really inspire their teams to meet or exceed expectations.

2.    Motivation efforts can be counter-productive!

a.    Motivating by setting performance objectives is not always efficient: if the given objectives are too fuzzy or unreachable, SMART objectives become DUMB (Diffuse, Unmeasurable, Meaningless and Boring).

b.    Money can decrease performance: studies showed that offering large bonuses to perform intellectual or creative tasks lead to worse results than expected.

So we need to find the right button to motivate!

Mark Gray develops the standard motivational theories where you should reward the behavior you want and punish the one you don’t want (“Motivation 2.0” by Daniel Pink). 

Setting realistic targets improves motivation and focusing the team on the final goals increase the ability to work together to achieve the goals. Even more, reward visibly the achievements reinforce the positive behavior and encourage other team members to strive to the same level of achievement. But reward should be carefully managed because paying someone to perform a task they were happy to perform anyway will transform this task into “work” thus reducing their personal motivation.

So what PM can do to motivate their teams?

Mark Gray states that motivation is an ongoing factor, that stress is demotivating and that a space of freedom once a week can increase synergy, creativity and motivation in a company.

Mark thinks we should get salary and benefits out of the picture and focus on using or supporting the intrinsic motivation of each team member (“Motivation 3.0” by Daniel Pink”). To make it happen, standard performance tools like performance reviews, varied metrics and modest rewards as well as trying to add some fun are efficient motivation techniques to explore.