by Merlin Hernandez

I have been asked on many occasions what approaches might be taken to re-energize a project-weary team. One of the most important aspects to rejuvenating a team however, is recognizing the signs of team burn-out, and acting on it as a matter of urgent priority. A manager might begin with one-on-one contact to understand individual issues, a composite of which will give a sense of team stress levels – individual issues quickly become team issues. Some rejuvenation activities include breaking work routines and rituals to work at a different location, going on a retreat that combines work and fun, coaching on issues that emerged from one-on-one sessions, bonding activities to reaffirm team identity, and team-building exercises. One exercise that I particularly like is where the team lead invites other senior managers to an outside conference facility for a review. Project objectives and their value to the organization are reiterated. Team successes are reviewed and individual contributions and critical strengths are recognized. Team members are reminded of the benefits of the team to their individual growth. The exercise reviews directly into the next phase of the project – what is needed, who and what is critical, how tasks interlock, new support systems, and new rewards for milestone achievement.