Mood management for project teams
Is the PM responsible for the team’s mood?
The project manager is not responsible for his / her team member’s mood. It is definitely not the PM’s task to cheer them up or make them happy. On the other hand we all know that an environment where employees can share their fears, problems and challenges as happy moments and know that they are appreciated is a very good basis for a good cooperation and efficient work.
“Under the spell of frustration, we are predisposed to give up, to abandon. Anger predisposes us to strike back, to seek revenge. A mood of ambition sets us up to shoot higher, to go for it.” (Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux, page 217)
And although some studies show that grumpy people perform better I prefer working with happy people.
From moaning around to “glad – sad – mad – thank you”
I am Viennese and we like to complain – about the bad weather, colleagues who don’t do their job, costumers who have unrealistic requirements… I am sure this is different in other cities and countries, but for us moaning together is like team building and we feel more connected and happier afterwards. With this in mind a colleague starts the weekly status meetings with a “moaning round”. This can be helpful for some teams, but keep in mind to watch the time – otherwise the whole status meeting can turn into a “moaning” meeting.
I sometimes start with “glad – sad – mad – thank you“. Team members are invited to write on post-Its what made them glad, sad or made and also “thank you” to their colleagues, etc.
Or I ask the general questions: What are you working on? What is bothering you? This too offers the time and space to talk about problems…
Knowing the human, not just the role
When people leave their homes in the morning, they do not necessarily leave their private worries, problems, challenges as well as happiness behind. Therefore it is helpful to know about their personal situation in order to understand their mood and sometimes even help them to change it.
It is not the PM’s or any manager’s job to solve employees’ private issues, but listening and thus showing interest and empathy can help a lot. Sharing challenges and successes definitely supports bonding and after talking about issues people might be able to move on.
Also sharing private happiness can be very powerful. I am currently working with a young father and whenever I ask him about his baby boy you can literately see how his face, body and mind lighten up.
What else can you do to support teams / team members?
- Find solutions together instead of blaming others
- Give praise, honest & constructive feedback and say “thank you”
- Celebrate successes, mile stones, etc. together
What do you do in order to avoid frustration, anger or fear? What do you to create a mood of ambition?