I was driving home from school late one night. We’d had a big storm so power was off in the neighborhood. It was kind of spooky, actually, driving down the darkened road.
I turned into my driveway, glad to be home…and was confronted by a huge wall of GREEN, right in front of me. Just…green, where my back yard was supposed to be.
Turns out a 40 foot pine tree from the neighbor’s yard had fallen during the storm. It hit the house and slid down, coming to rest in our back yard. (Fortunately, no one was home at the time.)
I will never forget the image of my headlights shining on those tree branches…that wall of green was not supposed to be there, like a shipwreck in the middle of a desert.
Sometimes your team feels the same way. A decision is made that seems out of the blue, and it isn’t what they were expecting – or wanting.
As a Project Manager, there are occasions when it would take too much time to bring everyone on the same page, or there’s information you just can’t share with the team. It’s difficult, but you have to make the decision and pull the trigger.
These cases may be demotivating for the team.
There is a reason behind everything, though. Just like the wall of green in my backyard.
When confronted by that big green wall, I just froze – the scene didn’t compute in my mind. But then I started putting the pieces together and I understood. I wasn’t happy that the tree fell on my house, but there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. I just had to park on the street and start making some phone calls.
When you need to make these tough decisions, help your team put the pieces together. Be honest. Coach them through it, and make sure to give them other opportunities to be part of decision-making. Your openness helps preserve their trust, and that leads to keeping their motivation up, in spite of a disappointing decision.
Shiv Shenoy from PM Exam Smart Notes has a few Rules of Thumb when delivering bad news. Click here to read about them: https://www.pmexamsmartnotes.com/4-ways-to-deliver-bad-news-to-the-team/?cn-reloaded=1
In the meantime…
Stay safe, stay healthy – and lead on!