It’s the project you’ve long dreamed about—the huge order, going global, the big-name client—that could take your business to the next level. But for your employees, it's more likely the project from hell—the one that has to be done yesterday, leads to a million endless meetings and eats up their every waking moment. You’re inherently motivated, because it’s your company. But how can you motivate your team? The following six tips can help.
Show them the big picture. Your employees have a different perspective on the company than you do. Make sure they know how this project will benefit not only the company, but also them personally. Will it make their jobs more secure? Put your business on the map? Lead to bonuses for everyone? When they know what the end results could be, they’re more likely to be invested in the project.
Plan it out. Scope creep, poor project management and failure to develop a realistic schedule are common reasons projects become hellish. Keep your project on the straight and narrow by setting a schedule, planning for what could go wrong and how you’ll avoid or overcome it, and checking in with the team to track progress weekly or even daily.
Celebrate the small victories. Depending on the time frame, the project from hell could seem like an endless slog in the trenches that wears your employees down, or a rapid-fire battle that leaves them spent. Set small intermediate goals along the way and revitalize your team’s energy by celebrating these goals with recognition (shout-outs in front of the team) and rewards (bringing in lunch, giving out gift certificates, hiring a massage therapist for the day).
Get in the trenches. Nothing demoralizes a team like a leader who talks the talk but won’t walk the walk. The work a leader does isn’t always as visible as what the employees are doing. Make sure employees know what you are doing to help make progress toward the goal, and that you’re working just as hard as they are (or even harder) to make the goal a reality.
Give ‘em what they need. No matter how hard you’re working, check in and make sure your employees have what they need to keep moving forward, whether that’s technology, help from others on the team or answers from you. (Sadly, control-freak business owners are frequently bottlenecks that hold up progress.)
Put a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a lot easier for employees to throw their all at a tough project if they know they won’t have to keep going 110 percent, 24/7, for the rest of their lives. Set a date for when the project will be over, and when it is, give your team a big reward—whether it’s a huge, blow-off-steam party, a three-day weekend to rejuvenate and refresh, or (if you can afford it) a bonus of some kind.
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