Motivation in practice

As a principal investigator (PI), a major part of the planning process is to set your goals with your team. To do this effectively, a PI needs to understand what motivates both themselves and each team member to reach these goals. The PI who is motivated and can motivate others is more likely to see positive results.


Looking at your work and life experience, think of examples of when you were highly motivated to do something.

Ask yourself: What activities were you involved in? What was particularly enjoyable about the activity? How did you feel in those situations? What was the reward or your personal sense of satisfaction for doing well? What enthuses you and stimulates you to achieve your goals? 

In the scenarios you have identified, are there any common factors?

Below is a list of factors which may affect people's motivation in their job. Rank the top five factors which would motivate you and then note the ones you can influence. What impact might your lack of influence/control have on you and your team?

FactorsWhich motivate you?Which can you influence?
University policy and procedures    
Growth within the job    
Research interest    
Relations with your leader    
Relations with your colleagues    
Relations with your staff    
Personal life factors outside work    
Recognition for effective work    
Job security    

Working conditions




Have a look at a hypothetical team motivation situation and assess the potential approaches and solutions through the case study in motivation and research staff development.