Maintaining IT Project Morale
By Kathlika Thomas
If anyone knows the feeling of anxiety that comes after making a promise and realizing that you can’t possibly hold true to it, it’s a newbie project manager. Okay, okay - politicians, too. As Project Managers, we’ve all written a proverbial check to clients that we were unable to cash (at least not without working 60+ hours/week). But promises of functional bells and whistles can make life difficult for Project Managers and their team, driving down IT project morale.
Once sponsors sign off on a less-than-comfortable timeline and are awaiting delivery, rescinding is not always an option. So how do you keep your project morale high and your team working hard toward the common goal of meeting your ever-looming launch date? Here are some tips:
- Offer staff members flexible scheduling if possible. If you can offer flex-hours, go ahead and implement staggered shifts.
Beware of bribery. Early morning donuts and coffee is always appreciated, but use sparingly! Remember the adage: “You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.”
Provide opportunities for growth and development. To improve IT project morale, encourage teammates within the same functional areas but in different roles to spend time cross-training or getting involved in external committees to add variety and revitalize work efforts on a dragging project.
Provide positive reinforcement. Openly praise exceptional work, long hours, and top performers. Let your team know their work is recognized.
Set aside time for team building exercises. Pick a day for your team to get together for lunch (brown-bag it if you’re on a budget!), and collaboratively solve a problem together.
Newbies aren’t the only ones who can benefit from keeping their project team engaged. Even with a realistic timeline, risks and issues can raise pressure for the most experienced PMs and turn a comfortable schedule into an aggressive push to deliver.
Kathlika Thomas has over a decade of business analysis and project management experience. She has roots at Accenture, one of the “Big Five” consulting firm and has managed numerous international projects. Kathlika has also developed a number of workshops and training programs related to business analysis, business intelligence and project management. You can read more from Kathlika at the IT Project Blog.
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