We've Got Spirit?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

It’s one of the toughest challenges that we face as project managers--maintaining the motivation of your project team when the project is in crisis. The team has visions of the cliff edge rapidly approaching and you need to not only prevent them from disappearing over the edge, you need to try and inspire them to even greater efforts to recover the project.

In this article, I want to explore some of the ways that you can do that. But let’s start with a healthy dose of reality--some projects fail. Despite the best efforts of you and the team, you can’t always bring the project in on time, budget, scope and quality. However, that doesn’t mean that the rewards of maintaining a positive team environment aren’t there.

The challenges
Let’s start with something that might seem obvious. Let’s look at the major problems that you might be facing with your team when a project is in crisis:

  • A lack of motivation--the attitude of: “What’s the point? This thing’s a train wreck and nothing that we do is going to change that!”
  • A lack of self-worth--a belief that “Clearly I’m not cut out for this job, the project is a complete failure so I should just go back to something simpler, this is obviously beyond me…”
  • A sense of fear--“We’re going to get blamed for this…

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