Recession. Downward turn. Job cuts. Everywhere you turn there is a negative report on the economy. Don't get me started on the politics and crookedness behind all of this lunacy. What I'd like to focus on, instead, is the mental havoc this media storm is probably wreaking on your team members.
Maslow, in his five-stage hierarchy of needs, states that an individual must first have his biological, physiological and safety needs met first in order to climb the pyramid toward goals like esteem and self-actualization.
It's gosh darn hard enough, even when times are good in an affluent economy, to help folks feel secure as agile team members - folks who are paid as the knowledge workers and technical thought leaders of their respective organizations. Often this is due to a mismatch in reward system vs. 'new' behavior that managers implementing agile are seeking.
But now, even compounding the reward system is that person's internal thoughtstream that says "yeah, right. I'm not stepping out on a ledge when I might lose my job, or when someone else can be hired for half my salary. Guess I'm playin' it safe these days."
With the "R" word (and in some cases - even the "D" word) being thrown around every .002 seconds, it probably wouldn't surprise you if your teams shrink back into the corners, play it 'safe' by the rules and not take risks. Concern over the rising unemployment rate and deflation of the dollar's value is enough to make anybody wilt into a pile of goo.
Managers and leaders: reiterate the safety and security message to your team members . At a time when government regulation of business increases every day and stifles us, we have to remain steadfast in our ability to deliver on ideas that will take us into the next economic wave.
Promote thinking of new ideas to continue to sell products in a weakened market; open up new opportunities for other segments and audiences, think small and rapid. See the previous blog for some other ideas.
It's difficult to pick up the newspaper these days, but to get through this, we have to stay creative. Press on.