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The skies are grey. It can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude at work with all the other things going on in the world.
Someone recently asked me about this exact question. How do you keep a positive attitude when dealing with stakeholders or team members who doubt the project?
Here are some things I would do if you work with people whose attitudes should be included on the project risk list.
Listen to their woes
What are they really concerned about? Is itgeneral malaise? Or do they have a point to make?
Sometimes, even non-specific moaning may be rooted in genuine concern. Perhaps they don’t understand the problem.
Find the solution
This might be necessary to get rid of them. You can’t pinpoint the cause of this problem.
Get a neutral colleague to help you share your concerns. They might be able to help you identify the problem.
Are they the only ones?
They might be the first to spot a growing problem and could be extremely insightful. It’s more likely, however, that you will be picking up on the problem from multiple sources.
You must act if there is grumbling from any of your team members (or more).
What do you do? I would challenge them with a respectful challenge. “I can sense/hear/understand that your concerns are about the project/what you are working on. Please tell me more about the driving forces behind this. I’d love to help.
I would do it one-to-one. I was intimidated and beaten by the experience of trying to confront a group with similar grievances.
Then, a few of my colleagues who couldn’t attend the meeting accuseded me of not being interested and leaving them out. It felt like I couldn’t win.
I would also suggest that you start at the lowest level of your colleague in the hierarchy and work your ways up.
You can then go into meetings with senior colleagues and have a little more information.
One of these two things have been discovered:
You can now resolve an issue that is related to the project.
Your colleague has a nonwork-related issue and their attitude has nothing to do your project work.
Your colleague may have a difficult time at work and you should be supportive.
If their behavior is affecting the rest of your team and creating an unfriendly atmosphere, you will have to deal with them. This means that you need to provide evidence and support from HR and their line manager.
Nobody goes to work to be intentionally miserable.
Keep your positive attitude. Take breaks. Keep your work in perspective. Get to know colleagues with the same outlook. Find someone to talk with about your problems.
Do the things that make you happy, even if it means having to have difficult conversations. Your most difficult tasks should be spread out over the week.
You are in control of your attitude so take control.
More resources are available to help you manage a team member with a negative attitude.
Shortcuts to Success: Project Management In the Real World: My book contains a section about managing project teams.
Results without Authority by Tom Kendrick: useful suggestions for dealing with people who don’t have direct management responsibility.
Harvey Robbins’ The Accidental Leader: Includes tips for meeting new people and setting expectations for their performance.
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