Project Management

Navigating the Summer Slowdown: Maintaining Momentum in Project Teams

From the The Money Files Blog
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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from RebelsGuideToPM.com.

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Categories: Goals, Leadership, Scheduling, Teams


Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re seeing the beginnings of a long-awaited summer. I seem to have been affected by the change in season this year more than ever before and I can’t tell you how glad I am to have longer, lighter evenings.

Image credit: ChatGPT

However, the summer days come with a different kind of challenge for project teams. I’d rather be in the garden redoing the rockery than behind my desk in a stuffy office, and I’m sure I’m not alone. How do we keep project teams engaged and productive during the summer months, when vacations and a general slowdown in business activity can impact momentum? And when our momentum might be waning as well?

Here are some tips to share with your team.

Flexible scheduling

Now is the time to be as flexible as possible with work arrangements, especially if your team is in a location where it’s only likely to get hotter (and they don’t have air conditioning). Maybe team members could start earlier or work later into the cooler evenings, taking a Spanish siesta-style approach to the working day.

Remote working is your friend – no one wants to be stuck in a tube or on the metro on a sweltering day.

Fill the slump

Many clients – and even internal customers – might be slowing down work requirements because their core team members are taking a summer vacation. If you’re finding the team with less to do at this time of year, use the slower period for training, team-building activities, or focusing on long-term strategic projects that require deeper thinking and planning.

Perhaps now is the time to get your PMP® certification or take the next professional development step in your career. Or simply organise a step-a-thon: we did one at work recently and the competitive factor was a great motivator for getting out at lunchtime (although most of my steps were done on the spot marching! Still, it all counts!). It was also a team challenge that we could all do independently and remotely.

Get mentoring

Have you thought about mentoring? Set up some mentorship pairings within the team or organisation. Summer slowdowns can provide the perfect timing for these relationships to develop without the pressure of project deadlines.

Carry out mid-year reviews

There’s still work to do, even if it seems like everyone else is out of the office! Schedule your mid-year reviews for the team, or if you don’t have direct reports, make the time to write recommendations and feedback for the colleagues you have worked with and send them to the relevant managers.

Health checks and audits

Not got a team to check in with? Why not check in on your projects instead?

Use any time you have to review the progress and health of ongoing projects. Identify any areas for improvement, risks you might have missed first time round, or changes needed. This could involve revisiting the project scope, timelines, and resource allocations. And most importantly, keeping your records up to date. Forgot to log that change? Do it now before someone asks you about it!

It might feel luxurious to have a slower period – and I know you might be reading this thinking, “What is this slowdown she is talking about?” I have felt that each year gets faster and faster, but I remember back to working in France when Paris emptied during August and I still feel certain industries and locations have seasonal ups and downs.

If summer isn’t your slower period, why not put these ideas to one side for year end or whenever your team has its slower point. They will still be worth doing then too.

Posted on: June 06, 2024 02:27 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong Financial Management Specialist | US Peace Corps / Cameroon Yaounde, Centre, Cameroon
Getting mentoring is quite essential but not available to all. Most organizations are yet to inculcate this culture

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Eduard Hernandez
Community Champion
Senior Project Manager| Prothya Biosolutions Amsterdam, Netherlands
A few years ago, it was common for employees in Spain to take the entire month of August off, with companies offering little flexibility. However, this has changed in recent years. Both companies and employees now enjoy greater flexibility, which helps maintain a positive working atmosphere throughout the year.

Moreover, taking a few minutes to rest after lunch (siesta) has been proven to be beneficial!

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