Everyone wants to work on a meaningful project that is changing the world. Having a challenging goal, you and your team are going towards the long-awaited launch of the project and your public recognition. The mere anticipation of such a great goal and the final outcome gives you the fuel to move forward. But even the most successful projects turn down to a support stage at some point. And here where boredom comes into play.
The tasks are now not so challenging anymore because most of them are related to fixing bugs, responding to customer requests and improving already existing functionality. As a result, people on the project may not see much value in their work, especially if they don`t come across the end customers and their needs. Finally, they are getting bored and maybe even thinking about leaving the project. At the same time, you as a project manager can see another perspective. The business may grow and require stable support from the technical team in order to flourish. So you`re absolutely not interested in losing any team members or their performance. In this article I’m pondering on the topic of how to keep your project team motivated when they`re bored, namely, if the project got into the support stage.
How to motivate people working on a support project:
Show employees that their work is valuable
Don’t hesitate to give positive feedback on the work done by your team and tell them how much their work is appreciated. There are a couple of ways to do this: starting from the simple saying “thank you” for the work done up to explaining how the work of your employees influences the business and other people’s lives. In fact, they may perform boring tasks but for a company that has a strong and flourishing business. As long as such companies have a great number of customers, even a small bugfix may have an impact on thousands, if not millions of people.
Keep the focus on the benefits of your project
If you want to keep the best people on your project, and you know that you don`t have so many opportunities for diversifying their job tasks, the easiest thing you can do is regular emphasizing and amplifying the benefits of your project. For example, you may have a very friendly team on your project. In this case, it makes sense to maintain team spirit and organize team events and hangouts. Another example is if you have a good and cozy office downtown. To amplify this benefit you may regularly do something in order to make it even more comfortable engaging your employees into improvement your office life.
Instill the understanding that each task is a puzzle to solve
Fortunately, people on software development projects, unlike people in factories, are less likely to be involved in tedious repetitive jobs. Even on a support project tasks are usually pretty different each day and this gives you more flexibility. Instilling your people understanding that every task is an interesting puzzle to solve may also work. A positive and result-oriented attitude helps you a lot in this challenge.
Share boring tasks between team members
If your project implies both challenging and boring tasks, it’s fair to share the boring tasks between the team members. In this way, you will avoid a situation when only certain people are working on boring tasks and they feel envy for those who are working on challenging ones. However, it is achievable only in those teams that are cross-functional, i.e. any team member is capable of doing these boring tasks.
Provide training and development opportunities
There are a lot of people who are looking for professional development at work and they may be frustrated that the work they are doing at the moment does not develop them professionally. One way to mitigate this frustration is to provide your team members with personal development opportunities apart from their current tasks at work. You may let them choose whatever training or workshop they`d like to take up and compensate them for the participation either completely or partially. The ideal situation is when the knowledge they have gained may be applied to your project later and shared with other team members.
Add some fun
Try to organize some activities that spice up your team`s everyday project routine. Here are a couple of options. You may organize a hackathon to solve a real or potential business problem. The participation in such an event will allow people to make a switch as well as to stretch their brains. If you can`t organize a hackathon on your project, you may establish a quiz on the knowledge of your product or some contest on the work performance. Just think of what may be funny and easy to implement. Before launching any activity of this kind, make sure that the team members want to participate in it.
Let your people have a break
People may look bored, but, in fact, be tired. Everyone needs some reset from time to time. So, if you see that some people are underperforming and have lost interest in the work, just check when they had a vacation last time. If it’s more than a year ago, it makes sense to remind such employees about vacation and persuade them to have a rest.
Involve people in new challenges
Very often people are bored because they have outgrown their position. They may have spent a lot of time on their current position, knowing every small nuance of their work. It is natural that they don’t see any perspectives and have no more interest in their job. You as a project manager should encourage the career growth of your subordinates. So, always think about a future replacement for you or any senior person in the team, giving more challenging tasks to potential candidates.
So, these are motivating bored people ideas that came to my mind. I bet that most of you either use similar ideas or practice something that hasn’t been mentioned above. Please, don`t hesitate to share your experience of motivating people in the comments. What works best for you and your team?