Avoid Crunch Time Burnout

Keep Your Team Motivated as Project Deadlines Approach

Sometimes crunch time is inevitable in a project, but it is important to try and prevent burnout for the sake of your employees and the success of the project. What are some ways of keeping your team motivated as a deadline approaches and hours get longer?

Meals Satiate and Motivate

Providing lunch or dinner to employees during days that require long hours can help break up the monotony. These meals can be an opportunity to bring the team together, which can also alleviate stress and build relationships between your team members. Many companies including Google and Pixar recognize the importance of face-to-face interactions for their teams. Having a strong team dynamic is essential to the success of any project and organization. As team members’ connection to one another improves through various team-bonding experiences and meals, innovative ideas and problem solving tend to increase.

Recognize the Need for Rest

It’s advantageous to have team members that look out for each other and can identify when another team member is overworking. Even when a deadline is approaching, continuous work will adversely affect your engineers and pushing them beyond their limits will be detrimental to the project overall. It is important to recognize when someone’s time is better spent resting than continuing to work at a reduced capacity. Some employees might feel a sense of duty to continue working even if they aren’t properly rested and this is something that leaders and team members should look out for. Overworking doesn’t result in more output, but it does have negative effects on the health of the employee as well as increasing chances for error.

Avoid Weekend Work Whenever Possible

When a project is at crunch time, sometimes working weekends is inevitable. However, unless there are exceptional circumstances that demand weekend work, your team should do what you can to avoid it and it certainly shouldn’t be a common practice throughout the project. Be sure that the team maximizes the work week. An employee shouldn’t feel guilty about not working the weekend, especially when the weekend is a time to take care of personal matters and rest. Working weekends can feed into burnout and should be optional for employees that want to contribute to extra progress.

Proactive Problem Solving

Another consideration is the repercussions of resource contention. It can be a bottleneck and cause delays outside the control of the team. External factors like this can contribute to working nights or weekends when attempting to manage lab time efficiently. Try looking for solutions to the root cause of these problems. One solution could be using virtual target hardware like the JETs Virtual Platform that Performance Software offers.

Keep Up the Praise

Team morale is an essential factor during any stage of a project, but if your goal is to keep motivated don’t forget to make sure your employees know they are valued. Things can get overlooked when there is a rush to get things done. Make an effort to give praise for the things that make a difference. Consider reaching out to thank your employee’s spouses (and other family members) and/or give them a small gift to show your appreciation for the hardship they’re enduring as well.

The small things like receiving praise, better team culture, or a simple meal can add up and let the team know they are appreciated. As a leader, show your personal support by working similar crunch time hours. Even though you may not be contributing directly to the program, you can use the opportunity to catch up on management activities, consider new approaches for efficiency, or get to those other tasks on your list that you didn’t get to yet.

Facing a crisis situation is not ideal for any project, but if you find yourself confronting an uncompromising deadline, try these suggestions to keep your team resilient.