Fixing Morale Problems

In the failing IT organization, you'll find that morale stinks worse than week-old roadkill. IT staffers have been repeatedly characterized as losers, and it has sunk in. People who think they're losers will act like losers. People who act like losers perform like losers, and the hole gets deeper and deeper. You need to break the cycle. The best way to break a losing cycle is with a success.

1. Work with your staff to select a target milestone from the list of five major, strategic IT projects. The deadline needs to be close and challenging but doable.

2. Go public. Talk to your management and staff. Ask for their support. The message is that meeting the milestone is critical to the business and that you, personally, are dog meat if the organization fails. Put your butt on the line. Make it personal. (After all, it really is.) Make progress reports public. Go to the project meetings. Ask questions. Stay involved. Address issues quickly and forcibly. Act every second as if you expect success. Address problems, but never allow the possibility of failure.

3. Celebrate like crazy when the milestone is met. Throw a big party. Invite the business executives, including the CEO and chief financial officer. Now repeat the process, but with three to five milestones from the five major projects you've selected. The strategy is to create a chain of successes. People will begin to believe they can be winners. Once that belief creeps in, it's unstoppable.

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