Question: How do you boost employee morale when a project or task isn't going according to plan?
Listen to Them
"As the president, I'll often make assumptions about why a project has taken a turn. In reality, though, I'm infrequently right. My role is to highlight the issue and listen to my staff to help them uncover why the issue is occurring, then help them set a new plan to return to progress. That keeps them feeling respected and supported so they can return to doing great work."
Emphasize That Everything Is Experimental
"I emphasize to my team that everything we do is an experiment. Sometimes our experiments are successes, and sometimes they're failures. Training your team to not be afraid of failure makes them open to experimenting with innovative, risky ideas. Send them messages from the top down that failure is acceptable and, at times, even expected. It's a natural part of being an agile, high-growth company. "
Acknowledge the Elephant
"Pretending the house isn't on fire doesn't make it burn any slower, but you'd be surprised how often leaders try to force something that just isn't working. Instead, acknowledge what's wrong and collaborate with your team to solve it with alternative ideas. When a team overcomes an obstacle, they feel empowered, and that boosts morale."
Have a Warm Environment
"We all know that in business (and in life), things don’t always go as planned. If your team is putting forth a strong effort but facing challenges with a project or task, I think it’s important to create a warm and encouraging environment where they feel they can talk honestly with you about the challenges. That way, you can work together on a game plan for moving forward."
Create a Different Solution
"When something goes wrong, you need to address it and not ignore it. Take time to think about the potential benefits of the situation and how you can capitalize on them. If there are truly none, come up with some new innovative strategies for your company, and get your employees excited about pursuing them."
"Reward them when they least expect it. Is your commission-based sales team in a slump? Hit them with a bonus when times are tough. Just as the best time to invest is in a down economy, if you want your team around for the long term, the best time to invest in them is when times are tough."
Remind Them It's a Team Project
"Amidst the craziness at a startup, people often forget why they're there to begin with and that everyone else is alongside them for the same reasons. A break to get everyone on the same page brings back the trust, communication and respect that's worked so well before."