If you are a project leader, at some point in your career you will have experienced key project personnel leave the organisation and/or the project, disgruntled. Sometimes, they may even vocalise their frustration with everyone …except you. As a leader how do you keep your eye on the pulse?
We can certainly choose to ignore or interpret feedback from departing employees as ‘their issue’ and ‘not systemic’, but at what point do we hold ourselves accountable? And how can we be sure that their issues are not in fact systemic issues - issues that relate to a policy, practice, behaviours, or a set of beliefs which have been established as normative or customary throughout the organisation – ultimately driving good people out the door?
What happens when the real issues result in the disengagement or departure of key personnel? At what point do we, as leaders, stop, review the data, reflect, and act?
The truth about humanity:
The challenge we face as human-beings is that often, we tend to avoid sharing our perceptions and true feelings at work – which is a normal human behaviour. When working as a team, it is important to be balanced about some aspects of the behaviours we see and experience around us, as otherwise, forming a team and teamwork wouldn’t be possible. But what happens when sharing feedback with peers becomes non-existent or limited to only the exit interview? What happens when a leader knows they’re not receiving the real story?
As leaders, we need to create a culture where our people can be open and honest – while remaining constructive and respectful. We need to be receptive to accepting feedback, and visible and intentional in the way we address it – as only then can we resolve issues and minimise negative outcomes.
To illustrate the point there are several reasons why human beings choose not to share how they truly feel:
- Fear of judgment: Many people are afraid of being judged or criticized by others for expressing their true feelings. They may worry about how others will perceive them or fear that their emotions will be dismissed or invalidated.
- Cultural and societal norms: In some cultures, or societies, there may be a stigma associated with expressing emotions openly. People may be socialized to believe that it is more acceptable or desirable to keep their feelings to themselves.
- Past negative experiences: Previous experiences of rejection, ridicule, or negative reactions when sharing emotions can make individuals reluctant to open up again. They may have learned to protect themselves by keeping their feelings hidden.
- Lack of trust: Sharing one’s feelings requires a certain level of trust in the person or people with whom they are sharing. If someone does not feel comfortable or safe with others, they may choose to keep their emotions to themselves.
- Emotional vulnerability: Sharing one’s feelings can make a person feel vulnerable and exposed. It requires them to be open and honest about their inner experiences, which can be challenging and uncomfortable for some individuals.
- Difficulty articulating emotions: Some people may struggle to put their feelings into words or find it challenging to express themselves verbally. They may feel frustrated or discouraged when attempting to communicate their emotions, leading them to withdraw and keep their feelings to themselves.
This is often ingrained human behaviour. The perception that our people are always forthcoming with the way they really feel is, for the most part, simply inaccurate.
Let’s take the example of Bob, a Project Engineer, who has worked with the organisation for seven years and built a reputation for good work with key clients. The team were all aware that Bob had ‘issues’ with how the program was being run but in reality, the parties involved never took the opportunity to have an honest and authentic conversation about his concerns. After Bob’s departure, the issues were described as Bob’s issue and not systemic. However, in reality, Bob didn’t feel he could openly and constructively share and discuss his concerns, well before he chose to depart the organisation. If you consider the time it takes to make the decision to leave your job and approximately 2-3 months to secure a new role and move, it would be safe to assume the Bob’s upset began at least six months prior to the departure – well before his decision to depart, and actively start-looking for a new role.
As Bob’s manager, had you known there was an upset 6 months ago, would you have done things differently? Would that information have given you the opportunity to proactively address it? Could you have circumvented the outcome?
At ProjectAI, we believe that projects revolve around people and therefore, people are your most important asset. By being able to see the perceptions and thoughts of all your team members and stakeholders, we can identify and address issues as they arise. The aim is to give people (either introverted or extroverted) various avenues to express their ideas and opinions, and ultimately improve the team’s engagement and morale.
So, what can be done about all this?
Pulse by ProjectAI aims to encourage project people to be honest about their perceptions of how the project is travelling in real time, as only then, can we address issues before toxicity festers. The tool aims to collect feedback from project stakeholders – both perception and reality – and present that information in an easy-to-use dashboard, providing leaders with visibility of the issues that need attention. The aim of Pulse is to allow you to 1) see the issues and receive feedback and 2) address issues in situ, to circumvent an outcome that is detrimental to the project (people leaving), the organisation (reputational damage) and the client (project instability).
Pulse has been designed to protect user anonymity, and ensure contributors feel safe sharing their perceptions and feedback. And if used consistently over time, true sentiment and engagement improves and increases, as people-oriented metrics become embedded as part of the normal way of working.
Pricing is $20 USD per user per month for up to 100 users. The per user fee reduces when you reach 100 users +. https://projectai.com/pulse/pricing/
Get 3 months free use of Pulse for 100 users (or less) in exchange for a Case Study of your experience and the benefits to your organisation (at the completion of the free period). Need more information? Contact ProjectAI at [email protected] or call +61 8 6280 2040.