My office is a total mess. Papers on the floor…and the chair…and the counter tops. Stickies with reminders…and notebooks, regular books, pens & pencils. It’s driving me crazy!
It’s not always a mess. In fact, I’m generally a very neat person. But I’m at a point in my project that demands so much time and attention that filing and straightening up are just not a priority right now.
Can you relate?
Project Managers are used to the swells and troughs of workload on a project. I know that soon I’ll be able to take a step back and literally clean house before the next surge of work hits.
We need to remember that not all our team members understand this. And they may go a little extra crazy when the wall of work hits. When their stress level soars, they don’t have the comfort of knowing that there really is an end to it…at least until the next milestone.
It’s our job as leaders to teach our team the realities of project work. We warn them when a surge is coming, support them when it’s busy, and make sure things really do calm down when the storm is over.
How do we do this? I have a few approaches to share with you:
- Periodically, review the high level project plan with them. Explain the milestones. Let them know when to expect surges so they’re not surprised
- As a heavy workload time approaches, don’t just remind them about it. Start strategizing on how to cope with the impact before it hits
- During intense times, keep them focused on what’s real. Help them to prioritize their workload. Make sure they know they’re not alone
- Know what you will be able to cut out if you need to. Understand when to be flexible and when you need to draw the line on workarounds that are inevitably suggested
- Once you achieve the milestone, make sure they take some time off, or at least work more relaxed hours. A burned-out team member isn’t good for anyone
Most importantly, show your appreciation for their efforts before, during, and after the intense times. It may not be possible to do something extravagant, but I’ve found that the best received form of a thank you is an honest one.