I have a small group working on a project together. I'm a team leader, but not the boss. The project is not for money, it's our thesis. We have around 6 months to finish this project.

This is the 2nd month, and the progress is not good. Each of us has our own responsibility, like design, coding, etc. I usually work 6-8 hours a day, so the progress of my responsibility is good, but progress made by the others is not so good.

My goal is to motivate my team members to work like me, or at least to work harder without micro managing them. This means I don't want to tell them what to do on daily basis, to the smallest work detail. I prefer agile development, where they manage themselves.

What is the best way to do this?

How to talk to them so they wont get angry (because we are friends)?

Perhaps my number one problem is because they are my friends, and I don't want to hurt their feelings. I want to believe them, but the schedule is getting tight and the progress is bad.

Thanks for your time.

  • To clarify: you're working 6-8 hours a day with no pay and no manager for 6 months? And you expect others to do this too? – raptortech97 Oct 9 '14 at 1:18
  • @raptortech97 yes, its for our thesis. I will update my question. Thanks – Blaze Tama Oct 9 '14 at 1:19
  • Why is the progress not good? What's holding things up? Is the situation remediable? If so, what actions must be taken to remedy the situation? Would cracking the whip make any difference? Would offering your support make any difference? I can't begin to count those instances where team work meant I did all the work when I was at NYU and CCNY. Fortunately, Columbia was a much better situation. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 9 '14 at 2:41
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    possible duplicate of How do I motivate my colleagues? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 9 '14 at 15:35
  • " where they manage themselves" that's the issue. – lambdapool May 10 '16 at 16:03

"Agile" does not mean everybody manages himself. It means that the team manages the team. You need meetings where the team decides what needs to be done, you need time for the team to do it and you need meetings where the results will be presented.

Make sure people estimate their own work and present this estimation. This way, they will feel honour-bound to actually get it done. A manager can tell you he needs it by friday. That's his problem. But if you said it's done by friday, it's your problem. That's a huge difference in motivation. Don't underestimate the will to not look incompetent in front of the group, even for lazy students.

Managing is not easy, but from my experience, every group needs management. Because management will solve problems. As soon as people realize that your actions solve problems, you will have no problems managing the group, whether you are officially appointed or not. If your actions create problems (stereotypical would be adding work to create a status update for the manager. This solves no problems, except the managers problems) then you will not be accepted, or only accepted because external forces say so.

Summary: you need management. Agile might be just right. But make it Agile. Agile is a method like any other, it's not chaos or "everybody does what he likes". Follow the methology and it might work great. Or use another. But you need management. And you need to show your group the consequences of their actions. In Agile for example, you'd have a burndown chart that would clearly read "FAIL" right now. That's something to work with.

  • +1 for the first two sentences. I really wish more people understood this. – Jenny D Oct 9 '14 at 6:30
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    And in many agile processes, daily progress meetings are part of the process. That is how you know who is stuck on what and what progress everyone has made. – HLGEM Oct 9 '14 at 15:15
  • Thanks a lot, i will try to manage them as soft as possible – Blaze Tama Oct 16 '14 at 5:51

It sounds that you are a talented person, with a broad view of the mission, and you don't only care for your own job but also for the job of other people. This sounds like you are made of a good "management material".You should consider the possibility that they lack the tools, knowledge, and even talent, to preform on the level you expect them. So, try to show them, without condescending them, new tools, and resources that they may lack to fulfill their job. Keep in mind not to patronize them,and not to do their job instead.

  • "Keep in mind not to patronize them,and not to do their job instead." Thanks. – Blaze Tama Oct 16 '14 at 5:52

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