In the advent of a major change that is likely to affect the morale of a team negatively, the project manager can take several preventive and corrective measures that would ensure the sustenance of morale in the team. These include giving credit where due. During the execution of new tasks, some team members will perform beyond average in terms of adherence and general performance (Sen 59).
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It is necessary to acknowledge such accomplishments. This will serve as a challenge to the more dormant group members, and a booster of morale for the entire team. It is also important to give accurate and careful feedbacks on developments and progress to be accountable to members who are often quite anxious due to the unpredictability presented by the change.
This will serve as an inhibitor of such anxiety or even stress, which would otherwise adversely affect their output. It is also important to adopt a democratic approach to leadership that encourages the members to comply rather forcing them into submission.
Making assumptions about the various needs and / or personalities of employees now would be counterproductive as would be delegating work instead of responsibilities. Instead, a manager should take time to learn each member’s predisposition and endeavor to work with it. It would also help in assigning the staff some more challenging responsibilities, as a way of getting their minds off the ongoing changes (Williams 99).
The manager can achieve this through switching of roles, tasks or duties within the team so that everybody tries something new. In the process, he/she will learn a new skill or know how to use a new technology. The outcome is the elimination of redundancy. As a result, there is a constant flow of new activities to retain the morale.
To ensure that all team members learn of the changes, the most important step would be a concise, efficient, comprehensive, and regular communication of the change. This should be done in formal for a where every team member is guaranteed to hear about it from the authoritative source.
This avoids the vicious cycle of rumors and hearsay which usually tend to fuel anxiety, tension, and stress, none of which is an optimal condition for effective work performance (Sen 64). It also helps to set the record straight on the new job descriptions as well as the current activities required of each member. This serves to prevent confusion and idle traffic in the workplace.
Naturally, people react differently to change; however, research has proven that most people follow a certain change pattern, which consists of among other stages, denial, anger, fear and finally acceptance.
The difference is in how fast one gets to the ‘acceptance’ stage and as a manager, it is critical to put in place help and support systems to ensure that all members get their due assisted to arrive at an acceptance without any adversity and effect on work performance (Williams 101). It is also vital to carry out a re-training during which the team members go through their new roles knowing what other people expect them to do.
This will ensure that all are up to date on the changes and it is even possible to set up a follow-up evaluation system that will gauge the adherence levels of the team to changing policies. In addition, it would help to come up with strict regulations worth putting in place to enhance co-operation and adherence to change.
The timing of communication is critical to the success of any project. This is because such timing of communication will directly affect the preparation of the members for any eventualities. For instance, if the owner has requested a new design in a week’s time, it would be detrimental to let the team in on this a few hours to the expected time of delivery (Williams 102).
Timing therefore affects the quality of the final product or service. It is also critical for the team’s confidence in their project. If they have had sufficient time switch to ‘acceptance’ mode, there will be less anxiety during execution, and more confidence in their ability to comply with the new requirements.
Timing also determines whether the team members are able to come to terms with the perceived cause and potential benefit of the change or not. If adequate, the staff will get a chance to experience the alleged benefits hence trust in the change and work with it in a positive light (Sen 57). Nevertheless, if the timing is insufficient, they have to work by faith, yet most of the time this faith on the leader’s intentions is non-existent.
Sen, Sankara. Strategic Leadership: Managing Change in a 21st Century Business Organization. Journal of Business Strategy 34.3 (2006): 56-65.
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Williams, Ray. Morale, What Project Managers Need To Know. Journal of Business Ethics 130.6 (2009): 98-104.