It can be all too easy to focus on the processes and procedures that get a project done and to overlook the people who are ultimately responsible for its success. However, more and more project managers are coming to realise the value of emotional intelligence and the necessity of the softer skills of management if they are to be an effective manager of people as well as budgets and timescales.
Unhappy employees can seriously affect the success of a project, and their demotivation and negativity can start to rub off on your entire project team. Being aware of changes in behaviour and performance is critical if you are to stay a step ahead of the game and to recognise issues before they develop into major problems. Spotting the tell-tale signs of demotivation and disengagement gives you the opportunity to put things right before it has a significant impact on the team.
6 signs your team member might be unhappy
- Timekeeping: Turning in work late, turning up to work late and missing meetings entirely should all be noted, particularly if they are out of character for that particular person.
- Behaviour: You might find the employee complains more than usual, and over issues that usually would not have bothered them. You might also find they become irritated or overly sensitive when asked a question.
- Procrastination: Unhappy employees will often find reasons to avoid work, so you may see they are on non-work related websites or texting on their phone when they should be busy.
- Meetings: If they do turn up to a meeting, you might notice they are a little agitated and seemingly disengaged with the process. They are likely not to participate in group discussions or to ask questions about anything under discussion.
- Productivity: The person might demonstrate a reduction in productivity, or it may be that the quality of their work deteriorates.
- Time off: You may notice the employee suddenly starts to take sick days, personal time or unpaid leave, whereas before these events were few and far between.
What to do next
If you suspect someone in the team is unhappy or otherwise demotivated, you need to take positive action before the situation develops any further. It can be tempting to brush the person off as a ‘bad apple’, or to think that they just don’t like the job any more, but often under further investigation it can be revealed that actually it is something you can rectify fairly easily.
A good way to take first steps to identifying and solving the problem is to hold a performance appraisal. This will give the employee a chance to open up, in a structured way, about the parts of their job they like and dislike. Do some self-appraisal too, and try to engage the employee in 360 degree feedback as there is the possibility that your management style is, at least, part of the problem.