Project burnout is an increasingly common problem in many organizations. It affects people in every job and at every seniority level, from new hires to the most experienced professionals. Project teams and PMs are particularly susceptible as budgets lean out and expectations increase. The pace of business today doesn’t help any, with near-constant communications contributing to the feeling of a frantic, sometimes unsustainable rush to the finish line.
There are some strategies project teams can adopt to help give project burnout the boot. If you’re running out of fuel, consider a few of the ways you can get back into the project groove.
A good way to kick off your return from project burnout is to reconnect with your project’s goals.Who will benefit when the effort is complete? What will they gain? How will their workflows or productivity be improved? On a larger scale, think about what the project will do for the company. When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to forget all the great things that will come out of your current initiative. By getting back in touch with the positive impacts the project will have, you can use that new perspective to dust off your enthusiasm.
This is also a perfect opportunity to deepen your connection with the rest of your team. Find an upbeat colleague and feed off their positive energy, at least until you can begin to develop some of your own. What are they jazzed about with this current project? You may discover they’re excited to participate in a different type of initiative than they’ve work on in the past. Activities that are old hat to you are probably new to someone else on your team, so take a peek through their eyes at the challenges they face. If nothing else, sharing the experience can turn into a huge benefit for both of you.
Your teammates may also be enjoying their partnerships with various stakeholder groups (let’s face it, some people are more fun to be around than others). Make the effort to see what others on your team look forward to each day—you could find job satisfaction in areas you hadn’t considered before, not to mention some new personalities to spice up your day.
Reach out to one of the project’s champions and pick their brain about what this initiative will do in the long run. You may be focused on expanding a manufacturing line today, but that could very well be intended to set the company up to launch a new or improved product down the road. High-level sponsors often can’t share everything about the organization’s future plans, but their eagerness to see the project come to fruition may prompt them to help you understand as best they can why this effort is so important in the bigger picture. That longer view can be a great way to reinvigorate your own passion for the effort.
Stimulating your brain—especially when things seem most stale—can often bring you out of a rut and give you some fresh energy. Look ahead to the projects that are still in the planning stages. Are there new skills you could develop to give you a chance to take on some new responsibilities? Can you coordinate some mentoring support now so you’re ready to tackle a new type of activity? These skill sets could be anything from strengthening a rarely-used competency to learning a new language. Consider where the team may be lacking valuable knowledge and determine if it’s a gap you want to fill. Expanding your expertise is a great way to leave project burnout behind.
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