Staying Positive All Year
It’s New Year, New You season! People are speaking in motivational Pinterest quotes. Karen from accounting is on a juice cleanse. The gym is flooded with new converts to the cult of exercise (until they discover the church of Gin in February). It’s a great time of year – everything feels fresh and there’s a renewed sense of purpose in the air.
For Change Managers, this time of year (once employees are past their post-holiday sluggishness), the energy generated by positivity about the new year gets things done. If we’re able to harness that energy, projects will move quicker now than they would at any other time.
The problem is that the shine fades as the year progresses but as Change Managers, we not only need to maintain our positivity, we have to inspire it in people and in the organizations we work in. That means keeping our positivity battery charged when others can’t. But for the times when we struggle to maintain it, it helps to have a strategy that you can use for to get your project’s positivity back.
Plan in reverse
It’s easy to get caught in the details of a project – especially when they aren’t going as planned. This is where the cycle of negativity starts. Things are challenging so project teams get negative and negativity makes them work at less than optimal levels – compounding already existing issues.
At this point, it’s helpful to return to the original vision for the project. The end goal of your project will be a positive one. Reminding your team of that goal is important. Once you have stepped back to see the big picture, plan backwards from that vision. Instead of planning from where you are in the project at the time – whether that’s at the beginning or later in it – start at the end and develop a strategy that takes you from future to present.
Go with the good
Because we’re change managers, we focus on what isn’t working so that we can find ways to fix it. But negativity can be contagious and constant discussion over the things that aren’t working will spread it through your project team. Instead, look for what is working. Examine it to see why it’s working and then decide if it’s something that can be replicated elsewhere in the project.
Look at your lingo
The language you use says a lot about what you’re thinking. So it makes sense that you can change your thoughts by changing your language. Focus on saying things that include a solution or that suggest there are other choices to be made. For example, instead of saying, “We can’t do that,” say, “That’s going to be a challenge but here’s what we can do.” Change Managers need to keep their ears open because listening to how your project team is speaking can give you a clues as to how they’re feeling about their work, the project, or their colleagues.
Take input to improve output
People get negative when they don’t feel valued, if their work goes unrecognised, if they feel like they aren’t achieving anything or that they have no control over the outcome of their work. Keep this in mind and build it into your change strategy. Include sessions in the rollout plan where the team takes time to notice what they’ve achieved up to that point. And when you do, make sure you pinpoint individual achievements. Knowing that their work is valued and seen will increase their positivity going forward from there.
There are two ways in which your team could lose perspective. They could becomes so involved in the details that they lose sight of the big picture. Or they could be so anxious about the big picture that they’re unable to work on the details. In both cases, you can increase their positivity by narrowing bigger tasks into smaller, more achievable ones. Celebrating small achievements can have as big an impact as celebrating the big ones.