Low Team Morale?
Is your project in trouble because of low team morale? I highly doubt it. However, low team morale is definitely in the top 10 list of troubled project symptoms. The health of your team and their overall attitude towards your project has a massive effect on your ability to see the project through to a successful completion.
Low team morale is a true example of what a troubled project symptom is all about. Similar to a medical symptom, it’s not the root cause of the problem, but merely a flag or warning that trouble has developed. However all too often we want to apply a remedy or quick fix to this symptom and treat it as if it was a medical based symptom.
If I am congested, I will likely run out and treat my congestion with a cold suppressant. Does that solve the problem? No, it just gives me temporary relief from my congestion. I have not addressed the root cause, which is the fact I have a head cold and the congestion will return when the suppressant wears off.
If my team morale is low, I might be tempted to apply some team building techniques, like a team-building retreat, to overcome my low morale problem. Again, I am likely to see temporary relief of this symptom, but the underlying reason for my team’s low morale is still present and the low morale will return.
Low team morale can be a signal for a wide variety of root cause problem such as personality conflicts, unrealistic work schedules, extreme demands on time, conflicted project priorities, and other problems that impact the way people act and feel. Spending time figuring out the root cause of the trouble that is causing the team to feel in a negative manner will reap greater rewards than planning and executing on a team-building retreat or other quick fix solutions. Talk to your team, ask questions, conduct surveys and/or interviews, but dig in and find out the real reason, not just the surface reason for the team’s troubles and work to resolve that root cause so the low morale can be truly improved.