Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Six Ways to Boost Your Team's Morale During Uncertain Times

Six Ways to Boost Your Team's Morale During Uncertain Times

Uncertainty can be a giant morale killer. If your team members don’t know where they stand, or even if their jobs exist, then their productivity and optimism can take a severe dive—especially during an unprecedented time like this one where a global pandemic is rattling industries all over the world.

As a project manager, this situation may be a large cause of concern for you. Fortunately, all is not lost. There are ways to help your team navigate unsettling times while helping to improve their morale. It isn't always easy, but your company's productivity will benefit from you taking steps to ensure they feel grounded. So, how do you start? Check out this list of ways you can boost your team's productivity during unstable times.

Acknowledge The Problem

As with any issue, the more you don't address it, the bigger it becomes for yourself and your team. You don't want to sweep any problems under the rug. If something is going on, you need to acknowledge it. For example, one of the most popular events that can cause uncertainty is layoffs and personnel changes.

While you may not have all the details and don't want to share information that should come from senior leadership, ignoring these events will not help your team. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging their existence and even connecting employees with people who do have answers. Again, you may not be in the position to offer details about this situation, but you can ensure you aren't blind to external and internal issues that can impact your team.

Be Honest and Transparent

This step is a huge one! Dr. Robert Cialdini, a prolific author who researches ethical business applications, found that dishonesty can cause your company's reputation to take a huge hit. Dr. Cialdini found that dishonesty can also disrupt employee performance, increase turnover, and ultimately damage the bottom-line. These events can increasingly negatively impact your brand reputation in the eyes of your customers and employees.

Going back to the layoff example, if you are a decisionmaker in that process, know that it is crucial that you are as honest as legally and practically possible. Being honest lets your team know they can trust you, and it allows your team members to jump on making plans to better their situation. This step can also be used for any changes that the company or project has gone through—a change in budget, loss of a large client, or reduction in sales.

Take Care of Yourself

Yes, you have a team to help and manage. However, you cannot be there to support them if you are not in a good place. This is the "put the breathing mask on yourself, before helping others" action that rings true. You have to make sure that you're good before you can help your team members.

This can take a lot of forms. This could mean that you need to get a better handle on your work-life balance, or it may mean altering your workload so you can better focus on your core responsibilities. Either way, you need to ensure that you are in the best place to be a leader for your teams. When you are in a great space, you can see clearly and be grounded enough to better guide your teams.

See What Your Team Members Need

Remember that those team members you are working with have their own situations and challenges and that a case of uncertainty at your company could be making things worse. You want to be a source of support for your team members, and a great way to do it is to ask how you can help and show empathy.

Businessolver, a benefits technology company, found that one out of three people said they would switch companies for increased empathy. It also revealed that 56 percent would stay at a company if they felt valued.

See if you can meet with each of your team members one-on-one. These meetings can give you better insight into what they are going through and can even allow you to practice empathy by putting yourself in their shoes. You may decide to offer advice on how your team members can better prioritize their tasks, connect them with resources, or even offer more work flexibility if personal responsibilities have increased.

Give Your Team Members Something to Focus On

It can be hard for yourself and your team to know where your focus should be during times of uncertainty. The problem becomes the main topic of discussion. As a project manager, you want to help your team stay grounded in the face of instability. A great way to do this is to remind your team members of what they can control. Take time to point back to your values.

Walk your team members through how they can still exemplify these principles in their work. Remind them of your company's mission and give them reasons why their involvement and creativity are needed to accomplish your goals for your customers. Show them that they can control how they work, the ideas they create, how they serve customers, and the environment around them. You don't want to avoid the issues, but you want to make them feel like you are guiding them to feel secure.

Talk About Self-Care With Your Staff

We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your team member's work-life, finances, and personal matters. Because this issue will likely affect their work and how they approach it, it is crucial to talk about ways to deal with it healthily. This is the time where you want to discuss the importance of self-care.

Talk about stress management strategies like yoga and exercise, and address the importance of eating healthy and maintaining a stable work-life balance. This step also allows you to model impactful self-care practices for your team to follow. A study revealed that 67 percent of leaders struggle to manage work-life balance, so making self-care a standard you stick to is crucial as well. Lastly, be intentional about the information you share and the tactics you use to help walk your team through a solid plan.

You Are the Rudder of the Ship

Whether you are in senior leadership or middle management, how you guide your team through times of uncertainty matter—if you are in any leadership position, your team members are looking to you for guidance on how to proceed. Therefore, it is essential to get as much relevant information as possible, communicate what is appropriate, and provide your team with strategies on how they can stay grounded while moving through unusual times. Helping to drive down the noise not only helps to boost your team's morale, but it also allows you to show empathy and concern—two things that are crucial for creating lasting and productive connections with your team.


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