How to Tackle Project Fatigue

As the nights draw closer and the days feel shorter, teams are feeling the effects of “The Great Resignation” and we are all adjusting to the new demands of hybrid working. In project work, the lengthy roadmaps, curveballs and unexpected staff churn can all add up to a never decreasing workload. Despite everyone’s best efforts project fatigue can impact momentum and progress along the change curve.

However, through a strong change network, and early identification of the warning signs, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce it.

  1. Acknowledge it – openly talking about it in meetings and one on one conversations allows you to demonstrate empathy and encourages the team to be open and honest. The use of pulse surveys and temperature checks, as well as more frequent “corridor chats” can provide you with prompt and actionable information to see if you are successful in invigorating the team. Remember, just a smile and nod of encouragement can turn someone’s day around.
  2. Beware the Negative Nelly – feedback is valuable, and we all want to foster project teams where opinions are shared. However, it’s important to identify negativity and where possible redirect the energy of those complaining by focusing on solutions and progress. The adage of a bad apple has been around since the 18th century for a reason… but often there’s more than meets the eye and strained staff are no exception. A one-on-one chat is a great first step in understanding their perspective.
  3. Celebrate success – take time to reflect on project progress and wins, focus on the tangible benefits and encourage those working on the project to reflect on the skills they have already developed. In a recent project we used a quiz based on world events that happened since the project began to show the passing of time, we also asked the team to vote for their peers who were demonstrating the company values. This one-hour meeting enabled us to ‘rally the troops’ and have some fun, as the pace of the project increases.
  4. Repeat after me – whenever possible ensure all opportunities to share the benefits and purpose of the project are utilised. Although you and your stakeholders know these, it might be the first time someone else in the room is hearing, reading or just paying attention to them.
  5. Revisit your resources – this is also a good time to review the upcoming plans and ensure you have suitable resources. Re-map, re-focus, re-estimate and escalate. Informing the teams of plans to increase resources, outsource discrete pieces of work, streamline processes, or simply safeguarding existing resource can establish commitment to the team and their wellbeing.

Project fatigue can be avoided with these techniques. Be mindful that this has been the most extraordinary 18 months and people have had fewer holidays, less headspace, more stress and fewer opportunities to decompress from it all. If your project has stalled due to project fatigue let us help reignite the route to success. Contact EstherM@NineFeetTall.com

 

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