“Death march projects are the norm, not the exception,” says Edward Yourdon, the author of the Death March, a book about surviving highly stressful, irrational projects in the software industry. Many organizations promote “death march” projects – those with unrealistic goals and schedules – to keep up with the competition in their respective industries. As a result, project teams work overtime to meet unrealistic goals and schedules, sometimes with insufficient resources, only to reach the burnout phase. The productivity declines, the absenteeism rate increases, and the team is unable to meet requirements. A burnout team means that the employees’ job satisfaction diminishes and that they cannot perform their tasks and meet deadlines. The consequence is a failed current project and a high probability of failure of the next project.
Recognizing team burnout and taking steps toward avoiding it are essential for avoiding cost repercussions for the organization.
“Burnout can be defined as feelings of exhaustion, a cynical attitude toward the job and people involved in the job and through a reduced personal accomplishment or work efficiency,” according to a dieBerater report.
Many things can trigger team burnout besides death march projects. These include poor project planning (cost, time, and resources), customer changes, micromanagement, high workload, time pressures, insufficient project manager support, as well as insufficient training and decision-making opportunities.
Exhausted teams tend to focus on achieving the results by working harder rather than smarter. The team members fail to use creativity to develop efficient solutions, so they become frustrated, communicate less, and work inefficiently. (more…)