Successful project delivery requires highly functioning teams with a common purpose – so how do you manage project fatigue?

A key factor in successful project delivery is developing and maintaining highly functional teams who share a single common purpose. But what if the program is a lengthy transformation with multiple milestones and the final outcome of the program is not always easy to define and communicate?

The best project managers are expert in building clarity of purpose and shared commitment within their teams, and have the ability to harness both to achieve successful delivery during a single-sustained push to the summit.

Developing a shared, common purpose and keeping a team motivated (and on task) becomes increasingly problematic during lengthy transformations. Project fatigue is a constant risk and the sponsor and transformation executive should be alert to the detrimental impacts to the outcomes when it starts to set in.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to limit the impact of project fatigue during a transformation program both within the project teams and the wider business.

Keep reminding everybody why we are here again

This is the flag on the hill that is driving the entire transformation program. Be prepared to regularly engage the senior executive to communicate to the team and wider audience why the transformation and their role within it remain important to the organisation.

Invest the time upfront in portfolio planning

Whilst a transformation is by its nature a journey of discovery over an extended period, the ability to provide a sequenced road map even at the high level can be a very powerful tool to keep project teams engaged. The way to do this is to invest the time upfront in the portfolio pre-planning stage so the project teams have an understanding of how their piece fits into the bigger picture and the longer-term objectives.

Refresh the team with new blood

Not everybody is predisposed to the long haul of constant project execution so be prepared to regularly refresh and mix up teams with new blood. This could mean bringing in externals for defined pieces of work, mixing up project teams once projects are complete or swapping business people in and out of teams so they remain refreshed and motivated.

Regularly assess if the benefits remain valid

Not unlike reminding the team why we are all still here, it is imperative as the program extends into the outer reaches of the transformation road map to have regular checkpoints to ensure the business environment has not changed to the point that the project is not worth doing. Nothing de-motivates a team more if they cannot see or do not understand the benefits of the project they are working on.

Be prepared to reset the program regularly

A reset can take many forms and is a very effective way to keep project teams on message and motivated. It can be via regular communication or forums and often goes hand in hand with implementing learnings from the project’s assurance function. Project teams are very aware of process disconnects so be prepared to keep refreshing the approach where applicable.

Celebrate success

Typically, the reward for successful project delivery is to give the team another project. Move beyond this and work with the project manager to identify a meaningful rewards program that acknowledges the team’s efforts and suitably compensates and motivates them to keep delivering.

A certain amount of project fatigue during a lengthy transformation is inevitable but by awareness of the risks and following some of the above mitigations will help ensure you keep getting the best out of the project teams and they remain engaged and motivated.

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Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...