Emotional Issues in Project Termination
Small-business owners and their employees can become emotional at the termination of a project. When an individual or team has worked closely on a project for any length of time, they can develop a feeling of personal and professional investment. Such feelings can create a sense of loss when the project comes to a close, and those emotions can vary depending on whether the project termination is voluntary or forced.
Professional projects can take on a life of their own, especially in a small-business setting. Employees likely work together on projects, creating an environment of collaboration and camaraderie. When the project ends, a sense of loss can be felt, which can lead to feelings of depression. The loss is felt not only for the terminated project, but for the loss of the interpersonal human relationships that revolved around it. The depression can be more profound if a project is terminated without warning, or because of the poor performance of the group responsible for it.
It’s natural to feel a sense of relief if an overwhelming or difficult project gets terminated. Business staffers may feel like a weight has been lifted from their shoulders and be re-energized to take on new projects. There also may be a corresponding emotion of guilt in being happy for a project’s demise, especially if the project was a large revenue generator for the company.
If workers have a significant investment of time and energy in a project, its termination can spark anger and resentment. Colleagues may be resentful of one another if feelings of blame arise. Workers also may feel their efforts were in vain, or were not viewed as good enough to sustain the project. If project termination leads to reduced income or profit, it also can create emotions of angst and anger.
Project termination due to mismanagement can lead to feelings of professional failure. Colleagues may feel they’ve let themselves and each other down. Business owners and managers may feel to blame for the project failure and question their own ability to effectively run a small business.
Depending on the size of the terminated project and its relationship to the business’s financial status, project termination can create a sense of worry. A business owner may be concerned about the ability to recoup lost earnings, and employees may be concerned and anxious about the stability of their jobs. Any project termination that puts the health of the small business in jeopardy is likely to create a sense of emotional unease in the workplace.