Three Ways to Keep Employees Motivated During Tough Projects

Joseph Stubblebine
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When you have a tough project ahead of you, it can be difficult to stay motivated and focused. When you are the boss and have to boost employee motivation as well as move the project forward, the responsibility can often seem daunting. The following are three tips on how to motivate your employees during difficult times and tough projects.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

When you have a difficult and multifaceted project looming ahead, employee motivation is likely to sag a bit. Now is the time to make sure your employees have full access to you and feel comfortable approaching you about anything. If they are afraid to let you know they are falling behind or do not know how to tackle the next phase of a project, the whole endeavor could start to unravel. Keep your office door open literally and figuratively. Make yourself exceptionally available, and let your employees know they are free to contact you with questions and concerns without fear of any reprisal. Remember that communication is a two-way street; motivate your employees by giving them all the information they might need as soon as you have it, and keep them in the loop about any changes. Open lines of communication allow you to give feedback quickly and painlessly as well.

Celebrate the Little Victories

A tough project generally stresses out the whole workplace, decreasing employee motivation and gradually bringing down spirits. It is up to you to boost your employees' motivation by celebrating the completion of each stage of the project. Note their accomplishments in public and let them know you recognize and appreciate the level of work and creativity they bring to their jobs. Look for other moments to celebrate them as well, bringing in treats to celebrate birthdays or other milestones. If you are in a position to send any bonuses, freebies or swag your employees' way, that is bound to increase employee motivation.

Keep Your Worries to Yourself

As the boss, you are responsible to set the mood for your workplace. If you project an air of worry or panic, especially when deadlines approach, your mood will infect every employee. Even if you are worried, express your concerns upward to your boss, keeping your attitude toward your own employees positive and practical. Do not allow personal stress to enter the workplace with you. It is one thing to empathize with employees who feel discouraged and another thing entirely to allow a sense of discouragement to pervade the office. Squelch negative rumors as soon as you hear them, and keep employee motivation a priority in your own actions and thoughts, especially when the project hits a tough patch or nears its conclusion.

Motivating employees is a personal endeavor, one that can vary in style from one boss or employee to another. Do not retreat into your office and send upbeat memos, thinking that you have done what is necessary regarding employee motivation. During a tough project, stay in touch constantly with your whole team to keep everyone goal-oriented and focused.


(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /


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