Change Leadership: Addressing Morale Issues When Aborting a Project | #pmot
by Kate Nasser |
Change Leadership: How to Sustain Morale When Aborting a Difficult Project
When you read this title, you might be inclined to think everyone would be relieved to see the difficult project disappear. Why would you need to address and sustain morale? In very difficult projects, employees who endure and perform well do so with deep commitment. When you pull the plug and abort the project, their morale can crash.
Change Leadership: What do employees feel and how can you help them?
When a very difficult project is cut short, the employees who were truly committed can feel:
- Used like rats in a maze
- Sacrificed for nothing
- Cheated from the finish line
- Unappreciated for their extra effort
- Failure and responsible for it
- Angry over being excluded from the decision
If you want your change leadership efforts to be successful in this moment, you must address these feelings and what leads up to them.
What Happens to Employees Psychologically During a Very Difficult Project
Employees who rise to a difficult challenge, endure, and perform well do so by believing that:
- Nothing is impossible
- Teamwork can conquer any challenge
- Sacrificing their comfort and personal time will be worth it at the end
- They will all share in the sweet rewards of success
In other words, they rule out the possibility of failure to keep themselves going. Think of the US Marines motto: “Surrender is not in our creed.” Many times employees have subconsciously adopted this belief. Then suddenly you abort the project and their morale crashes.
Change Leadership: Steps to Address Morale
- Most importantly, communicate through the project so that employees’ expectations adjust along the way. More information, more reality, less shock.
- Do not blame the team. Sometimes leaders will blame a whole team when slackers slowed success. Yet great leaders address under-performers along the way. They don’t wait and they don’t blame the whole team.
- If possible, let them be involved in or at least have access to the decision making process.
- Draw everyone together and discuss what has happened. Often issues were beyond their control. Get their thoughts. Highlight the talents and efforts applied and ask them to add their kudos of each other to this discussion.
- In a separate team meeting, discuss the lessons learned. If you do the lessons learned in the first meeting, they may interpret it as “failure analysis”. Much better to let them heal with a celebration of talent and then look at lessons learned after that.
- Use this change to explore, teach, and develop the team’s agility. I can help you with this!
Great change leadership stems from emotional intelligence that inspires and cares for employees. It’s not fluff. It’s the tangible steps to re-inspiring and re-engaging employees after a crushing blow. Pull the plug without unplugging employees’ drive and resilience!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
©2015 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™