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How to keep up project team motivation during an economic recession

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 13th October 2011

Growing concerns about our current economic state are causing a large number of people to feel insecure about their employment status. It seems that job security is no longer a guarantee and this can cause even the most confident and qualified employee to lose these motivation. Lack of morale can negatively impact your team and infect your group like a disease. As a project manager, you may be faced with one of the biggest challenges of your career during these types of transition, especially with employees who anticipate the end of a project.

There are several ways to ensure that your unit will continue to perform their duties effectively while you remain their advocate. Remember, they will more than likely turn to you first for advice or reassurance and you want to be able to assist them. Start observing your team on a regular basis. If you are approached by one of your team members or you begin to notice their spirits getting low, follow these tips to begin an open dialogue. You just might be able to avert a bad situation by convincing them to take another approach.
1. Set the proper expectations for your team members so they know exactly what will happen at the end of the project.
You should explain all of the particulars involved including what type of support, if any, will be given to anyone who decides to leave the organization. Be clear and concise with your answers and if possible, provide continuous updates that include timelines. You want your team to have a full understanding of the parameters.
2. Encourage developing new skills and talents.
While working on the project, encourage your team members to inquire about other opportunities that may be available. Have your team member focus only on positive attributes and help them identify their best assets. Once complete, advise them to focus on improvement in these areas. When an employee possesses a strong work ethic and an eagerness to learn, they are more apt to worry less about the unknown and place all of their concentration on the current task at hand. If things to do come to an end, you team member will have learned valuable skills that will help propel them to the next level.
3. Maintain team motivation at the close of a project by offering monetary compensation.
If some team members are beginning to voice their concerns regarding their financial situation they may jump ship early. You need this project to be completed on time and accurately. Now is the time to show them the money. Financial incentives to keep your team member for the duration of the project is very common. The unfortunate reality is once most projects enter the last phase or few final weeks, some employees will begin to seek out other opportunities. To avoid this problem, it would be prudent for you to work up an incentive program of some type to keep them around.
4. Meet with your team to discuss networking ideas.
This is a great way to keep in touch with co-workers to discuss employment opportunities. Have you ever heard that old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know?” While that may not be 100 percent true, there is a bit of reality based in that saying. So, while you are with your group start up a network among you and begin exchanging professional information. You will see how motivated your team can really be when they are talking about positive future endeavors.
Project managers have a very difficult job. Ultimately, they are responsible for selecting team members who will complete their duties and see them through to the end. They must handle every aspect of the project and ensure that they retain the same diligence as they did when the project began.

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