We’re about to enter into the final quarter of the year and the Olympic ceremonies have concluded. This is the time of the year when a lot of companies start losing steam; in part because whether or not goals will be reached has largely been determined, and also because willpower starts to fade as time marches on. As the “closing ceremonies” for your projects near, you will notice a marked difference in productivity and morale.
As you near the end of a project, employees naturally begin turning their attention to the next big thing. They may be trying to get a leg up on the incoming work, doing research, or reviewing details of the new project, but whatever it is they’re doing, it takes away from putting their best into the existing project. During this time, it’s important to oversee start dates of the project milestones and make sure employees are passing the torch when they’re building on the work of others.
At the same time, you’ll need to make sure that everyone is still reaching their goals for progress. Simply being aware of the dates and asking for updates as a benchmark approaches reminds the employees that the project may be enough. Any kind of tracking “needs to be about improving, not policing. Think personal trainer, not overbearing parent,” encourages Dan Enthoven of Inc. Magazine. This helps ensure that employees are on board with the nudges and don’t become alienated.
Motivation and willpower wane near the end of a project, but small celebrations will elevate morale and keep your employees in “go mode.” Even if you aren’t going to reach your goals for the project, finding things to be proud of will keep the positive energy flowing.
In an article for Psychology Today, Christopher Bergland explains, “Subliminal cues greatly impact motivation, endurance, and longevity.” Although he covers many studies in the piece, perhaps the most intriguing involves athletes who were shown happy faces or words like “go” and “energy” while undergoing a stamina test. The subconscious reminders actually helped them outperform their counterparts, who received negative or neutral statements. Visual aids are hugely important as progress continues in the office, too. The more people see something, the greater value their subconscious places on it. Consider posting a progress tracker in a common area of the office. You can even use this to help recognize achievements as milestones are met. The added sense of accomplishment will boost morale as well.
You have a lot on your plate, but your employees are looking to you and will mirror your behavior. If you allow your focus to fade or shift, theirs will, too. Use the tips outlined here and apply them to yourself and you’ll be far more likely to have your entire team in the winner’s circle when the closing ceremonies commence.
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