Working on a long-term project? Know how to keep your team motivated
Twenty-two years, a massive $200 billion budget, the construction of at least eight new venues, and the creation of an entirely new city—Lusail—for the final match. That’s the kind of timescale, money and infrastructure that is going into hosting the much-awaited 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Working on large-scale, long-term projects lasting years can be daunting and sometimes frustrating. Yet, the fact is that long-term projects are a part and parcel of professional life, and as a manager you must be prepared to take them up whenever they come your way.
Long-duration projects—some like the Qatar World Cup preparations can last a couple of decades—need to be approached differently from short- and medium-term projects because of the drastically altered timelines they present. It’s important that your team stays motivated during the course of this time.
Here are some tips to keep employees motivated in the long-term:
Be realistic about your goals
It’s easy to lose your sense of realism when you’re planning far into the future. Avoid the pitfalls of setting unrealistic targets and timelines by paying special attention to how practical and feasible the plan is. Avoid overcommitting while planning a project and remember to leave a cushion or a grace period for especially challenging tasks. Don’t lock in on your plan until all department heads involved in the project have signed off on it.
Divide it up into parts
The key to staying motivated on a long-term project is to break it up into small parts and celebrate the completion of each. The former motivates project members by setting attainable goals, while the latter fosters a sense of achievement within the team and acts as motivation. Celebrating milestones publicly also has the added advantage of bringing failure to the notice of everyone, acting as a reality check.
Among the biggest problems that managers face is how to sustain the performance of their employees over the course of several years. One way to address this issue is to have a credible performance monitoring system in place. This way the manager can know if the performance of any employee starts to dip and s/he will be able to address the issue in good time. Nor should performance monitoring be restricted to individual employees. Try extending the idea to entire departments and even the overall project so that you always have an accurate idea of where you stand in relation to your goals.
Remember the motive
As time passes, you will gradually become so involved in the nitty-gritties of the project that you could easily lose sight of the real motive behind the venture. Take steps to remind yourself of the motive behind all your effort and hard work. Why? Because keeping the motive in mind is the most powerful incentive you will ever have to complete the project. Place a scaled-down model of a building you are constructing in a corner of your office, or put up the photograph of your client on the notice board. This will stimulate you to work harder to ensure that your venture is completed in time.
A long-term project is like running a marathon, which requires planning, patience and perseverance. The idea is to strategize and get your priorities right. But don’t expect things to go smoothly from start to finish. Anticipate missed deadlines, trouble from workers and plenty of other stumbling blocks. In the end, much of it boils down to wisdom and persistence. Be smart, keep your focus and persevere, and you will eventually get where you want to be.
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