Written by Janet Skipper
During these unprecedented times and the extra pressures brought on by COVID-19, it can be a genuine struggle to keep a positive attitude at work, especially when working on major HCM technology projects. I was inspired by some recent reading about ways to stay positive during tough times. This was a very good “self-check” for me, and I hope these help you continue being a positive influence at work. As you read through these points, consider your interactions with colleagues, internal team members, clients, and customers as you’re working on projects. After all, major projects, even in normal times, can bring challenging personalities and highly charged emotion to our dialogue, both written and verbal.
- Assess your own feelings and behaviors. Determine how YOU may be contributing to the negativity around you. Do you have a glass-half-empty mindset? Are you participating in conversations that are purely focused on denigrating, diminishing, or criticizing? Are you saying things or doing things that alienate your co-workers? Once you identify what you might be doing to contribute to the negative atmosphere in your office (physical or virtual), make a concerted effort to curb your behaviors and strive for a positive attitude. Ask yourself, “What is the point or purpose of what you are saying? Is it to hurt or help? Become the kind of person who takes your time and words seriously. Remember that complaining without end does not focus on creating solutions; rather, it perpetuates and magnifies the problem, wasting everyone’s precious time and energy.
- Speak up. If someone else is bringing you down, don’t let them. Tell them how you feel by saying, “this doesn’t work for me.” Make it about you, not them, so your words are non-judgemental. And remember that people don’t always realize they are coming off as negative. Perhaps say in a gentle way, “Do you realize you are complaining?”. Just bringing an issue to another person’s attention can be enough to shift the conversation. It’s important to speak up because if you remain silent, that conveys your permission to continue. If it is someone external to your organization who brings the bad attitude to the conversation, perhaps with nitpicky requirements or requests that go against best practices, the instinct may be to fight back. Instead, I encourage you to pause and perhaps say, “I hear what you are saying” or “I understand why you are asking for it to be that way.” Turn that conversation into a collaborative one by saying something like, “Let’s consider our options here” or “Let’s look at some possible compromises” to shift the tone of the discussion.
- Make a conscious effort to turn your bad day around. If you are in a bad mood or having a bad day, refuse to let that ruin everyone else’s day. You can take the focus off yourself and your problems by focusing on other people. Small acts of kindness can make you AND the person you’re helping feel happier. Give a pep talk to a co-worker who is feeling down. Praise a colleague when they doubt their performance. Say “thank you” to your teammates. A few words of praise can go a long way.
- Take a walk. Carve out a little time for movement, meditation, or anything else that clears your head or gets the endorphins flowing. Mindfulness exercises can reduce irritability, aggression, and anger.
- Look for tools to help yourself. Find tools and strategies to help you continue to be positive. Research online articles, podcasts, or other tools that help you stay positive. Stay mindful of your moods, and do frequent self-checks to control your reactions to negative forces.
As we deal with difficult challenges in the workplace, try to take a brief pause, consider the situation and what may be happening in other people’s lives, and how that may be affecting them at work. Everyone is facing challenges in these times. Perhaps open your next team call with “So how is everyone there?” or “Is there anything I can do to help you during this crazy time?”. Starting with a personal check-in can calm the waters before diving into the topic of the day.
Some closing points to review from time to time to keep emotions in check and get positive results include:
- Identify your “triggers” and those of the folks you’re working with on HCM projects. Pre-plan how to deal with them.
- Use proven project management tools to provide structure. Structure brings freedom. Once the project team is clear on objectives, norms, boundaries, roles, dependencies, and assumptions, they have a framework to reference and are free to use their unique skill sets as they communicate and problem solve within that framework.
- Avoid sarcasm and gossip.
- Remind yourself that emotions are not inherently good or bad, but provide cues on information that is valuable. Be the role model and respond with balance to emotional reactions.
- Listen. Listen.
- Regularly refocus your project team on the vision to keep motivation up.
- Avoid taking things personally.
- Perform small acts of kindness: Clean up the conference room, offer up additional documentation, offer to do some legwork that is outside of your role, ask if you can help.
The HRchitect team has over two decades of expertise managing major HCM technology projects for some of the largest organizations in the world. If you’re embarking on a major HCM technology project, like a system implementation during these crazy times, let HRchitect help. HRchitect is your one-stop-shop whether you need an experienced project manager to keep your project on track while keeping your team’s motivation up, technical help with your system configuration, change management or anything in between.
Learn more about Janet Skipper
Janet Skipper is a project manager for implementation teams in the HCM technology space. She has 20+ years of experience leading project teams and managing technology projects. Janet joined HRchitect in 2019 and is currently managing enterprise time and attendance system implementations.