Morale can be defined as the overall feeling or state of mind. It has a major impact on team members motivation and overall team productivity. Mae West once said, “An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” As a project manager its hard to find a set of predefined methods or framework to improve and increase the team morale. It is important to try and range of different approaches and see what suits your team best.

Why Improve Team effectiveness?

People work on projects

If you observe any project carefully no matter what planning you have done and which framework you have chosen ultimately it’s the people who are going to work on those projects. So ultimately if the team’s morale is down then all the planning and system will fail. It’s important to improve the team morale so as to make all the planning effective.

Effectiveness to Efficiency

Effectiveness is often defined as “doing right things” and efficiency as “doing things right”.If we increase and support the teams to be more effective then, in the end, the teams would automatically be more efficient. Striving for not just on time but on time cost-effectively and efficiently. Project Manager plays a very important role in achieving this and I will show you how one can do this later in this article.

Causes of low team morale

Whenever a new employee is hired or onboard to a team he/she does not have a low morale. There are many unfortunate events and incidents that happen that degrades and lowers the morale of the team member. As a project manager, your task should be to identify and eliminate those incidents. Some of such events are mentioned below:

Trust

Trust is one of the most important aspects for anyone in a team. IF for some reasons you break the trust of a team member then it would be hard for them to work with you on a team. Try to be as open and as transparent as you can so that they never feel that they are betrayed. You should encourage more open and transparent communication in an organization.

Troublemakers

Many project teams can point to one or two individuals who always seem to complain, gossip, and create issues for other team members. It is important that managers do whatever they can to control gossip and rumours, two of the biggest communication issues that can reduce morale and facilitate distrust quickly. If gossip mongers and constant complainers are not addressed appropriately by the project manager, then this negative attitude can quickly infect the rest of the team.

Overutilization and Underutilization

There are few “resources” that are overutilized and some underutilized based on the work demand. For eg in our organization there are only 3 WordPress developers and so if there is a huge demand for WordPress work they are overutilized and on the contrary, there is not much work for the web designers so they are underutilized. Under such conditions both team members morale gets low. One is overwhelmed with work and other is not getting motivated because they don’t have enough work. As a project manager both the scenarios should be handled effectively.

Job insecurity

There are times when the employee is not performing as per the expectations and he or she may feel that their job is at risk. In that scenario as a project manager instead of blaming that person try to find out the reason of why he/she is not able to perform well? What problems they are facing and try to eliminate them. Thus they won’t have any job insecurity.

Impacts of low team morale

Low Productivity

It is but obvious that as the morale of a team decreases the productivity level of the team also decreases. It includes things like scrap and lots of re-work.

Time and Money

If we talk about impact in terms of loss of money and time, you can consider the cost of onboarding a new user in case if the employee leaves the organization. The new employee has to learn and understand all the aspects of the existing project and to cope up with the speed.

Quality Degrades

Definitely, the quality degrades with the decrease in team morale. The team members start to care less about the code quality and they feel that they should not be the part of this organization or this team. They might not work with the same enthusiasm and excitement and thus it will affect the quality of the work.

Role of Project Manager

As a project manager, you play a very significant role in boosting the team morale. You might be wondering what project management has to with team morale? It has a significant impact based on how well the project manager performs his or her duties as a project manager.  There are three areas where you as a project manager can perform well to improve your team’s morale.

Supervision and Management

It focuses on a specific set of tasks that a project manager performs in order to achieve a goal or an objective. This may include establishing and maintaining the standards. Taking the time to clearly communicate performance standards helps team members understand that the work is expected to be done correctly the first time. It may also include managing all the resources efficiently. As discussed above if the resource is over or underutilized it will decrease the productivity and morale of that employee. Some other areas may include Planning and organizing, supervising, monitoring and controlling.  As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to communicate the performance standards and consequences of not following it. This increases the accountability of the employees and they act more responsibly.

Leadership

Project success depends upon the project manager’s ability to recognize what motivates team members and other stakeholders. Leadership differs from management in that the project manager is focused on motivating team members to take personal responsibility for accomplishing tasks rather than being primarily concerned with task completion

Personal Character & Professionalism

In an ideal situation, the project manager would only have to express his or her expectations to influence team members and other stakeholders. In many cases, he or she often has to work hard using personal skills and characteristics to change attitudes and achieve project objectives. For eg, he or she can demonstrate a high concern for task achievement. You can use your analytical skills to solve any problems. At times you might feel that something is wrong. Instead of jumping to the conclusion directly you should use your skills to analyse the situation first.

Tips to improve

Here are a few more tips that you can implement to boost their morale and increase the productivity of your team.

Care for them

Everyone likes it when someone cares for them. C’mon I mean its basic psychology.  Recognize every single employee’s birthday. Send gifts for new babies and weddings. Be involved in employees’ lives to let them feel loved and valued not only as employees but also as family members and as human beings. “When people are loved, they will give more than you can imagine ”. And I personally have seen that love and caring beats the money when it comes as a motivation factor.

Make them feel the importance of their work

You can always make them feel that they are part of something big. What they are doing is not an ordinary job. When John F Kennedy went to visit NASA for the first time he saw a janitor sweeping the floor there. He came and shook hands with him and said what are you doing? The man said, “Mr. President I am helping a man to get on the moon.” That employee was highly motivated as he was feeling that he is a part of something big and so he was doing his job best.

Celebrate the accomplishments

In psychology, there is a term called as “Law of positive reinforcement”  which states that “behaviour that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated, and behaviour followed by unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated.” So if you celebrate any accomplishment it’s more likely that the employee will work hard to again enjoy that pleasant consequence. So if the team has completed a project on time then give them movie tickets or have a small party at the office. “Celebrate your success and you will get more.”

Have fun activities

I have been brought up with a thinking that “If it’s not fun, don’t do it.” Nobody likes to do boring stuff. There should be a spark of fun in all the activities you do.  We here at Atyantik organize hackathon every month so that the employees don’t get bored. It includes some fun and recreational activities like the scavenger hunt or team building games. You can try to implement the same within your organization and you will see the significant differences yourself.

Go For Random Acts of Kindness

When new hires join the team, ask them to fill out a short questionnaire about their “favourites” (favourite candy, favourite flower, favourite magazine, favourite sports team). Keep this information on file, and use it when people could use an extra pick-me-up.

When someone’s been working late all week, surprise him with his favourite candy on Friday. Or, on someone’s birthday, get her a bouquet of her favourite flowers. Everyone appreciates random acts of kindness, but these gestures are more meaningful if you’ve put time into investigating and remembering gifts that they’ll actually enjoy.

Conclusion

Improving the productivity and morale of a team is a slow process and it takes some time. You should not expect overnight results. Besides, there is no “one size fits for all”  concept here. You have to try new things and see modify and optimize it as you progress. Improving the morale is like watering the plants. Its a process and its a continuous process. So have fun while you are doing it.