Handling teams towards the end of a big project
I am currently getting to the end of a 9 month project and to relieve my mind, I started writing down all the things I needed to keep doing and put in words what it meant. The below is a mind dump of some of the key things I have been doing and that I believe strongly in.
I love my team (and now my extended team) and am so proud of everything they have accomplished during this project. I hope the below can help other leaders who are looking for ways to feel more connecting with their colleagues as the pressure mounts.
Get closer to your teams
Now is the time to start connecting with your team more than ever. Take breaks together and let them get stresses off their chest. Listen closely and try and solve those problems for them.
The less stress on their shoulders the easier it is to keep calm and focused.
Do a reset on what is left
One of my favourite things is doing a reset of work. Forgetting everything done so far and going through only what is left. With a clean board, you can see the end in sight.
It is a small psychological boost but works really well to give people the energy to reach the end at a high velocity.
Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in
If like me you are lucky enough to have a development background then pair with people where it's needed.
This doesn't mean micromanaging and you must not make them feel like they are underachieving.
Make yourself available and go around every person asking if there is anything you can help with. Let them know to shout if they want to work together at any time. Even have days where you just make your self available without distractions.
Communicate with your team about everything
All management meetings and changes should be communicated immediately. Make your team feel as close to upper management as possible and part of the process.
Ownership of work and projects is essential to make people feel like they are a part of the final piece of work.
Fix arguments straight away
Passion is great if channelled correctly. Arguments can start over an interpretation of specs, inter-department beliefs, who wrote this shit code, etc.
Let people get their points across, but be the mediator. Things I like to try and make sure are talked about are.
- Facts, not feelings
- How can these 2 points of view become a solution
- Remind them that each has their own speciality, take the best from both arguments and make it better than before
- After this, also make them work together for a period of time. Whether that is writing up a new amended spec or implementing something new.
You need to make sure straight after one of these conflicts that working together towards the solution is done and celebrate it once complete. This will create better bonds for the future and new friendships and respect.
Be the calm in the storm
Joke about stressful situations.
When the pressure mounts, joke about it. Convert it into passion. Again, focus is key at this late stage and anyway you can deflect these feelings is a win.
Have daily inspirational quotes or phrases and make fun of it. Every day write a new cheesy quote on your team(s) board and over sell it. Maybe this is a British thing, but taking quotes seriously doesn't work for our mentality (generalisation), but it does go in.
Make cheesy inspiration possible by making fun of it and repeating it throughout the day when things get too much.
If it gets too much for you, step out. Go for a walk and clear your mind. Refocus and come back into the room.
Remain calm as much as you can. You need to lead by example. Be the rock everyone needs to bounce things off to get stuff done.
Lean on your team as much as they lean on you
Don't isolate yourself. More than anything you need to keep positive, spew rainbows and keep your energy levels up. As soon as they see you start to give up, that will affect all others around you.
You are part of a team, you are not there to do everything yourself and look down on others, thinking you are better than them. You are one of them, it is just a title in your job description. Others know things you don't know and asking questions doesn't make you look stupid, it is humbling and makes sure you are an equal, which is exactly what you should be.
Celebrate every win
When someone or group of people solves a problem, celebrate it. It can be high fives, hugs, beer, a quick nip out to get doughnuts or coffee. It can be anything, just make sure to savour even the smallest wins.
At the end, the last thing people need is negativity or criticism. If you must do it, then write it down and talk about it as a group in a retrospective. Now is not the time.
You need to keep people energised and motivated. For every negative call out at someone, you take a part of the enthusiasm and focus with it.
Spew rainbows and do the above.
I still muck up on the above, lose my patience or shout something bad when things build up.
It is also very emotionally and intellectually exhausting and every day can feel like you have ran a marathon. But remember.
We are all only human.
The above is my primer/beliefs of who and what I want to be.
Treat those around you as you would like to be treated.