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How to "Motivate" Your Team During Challenging Times

career leadership management Sep 08, 2021
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(Part 3 of 3 of my Leadership Series)

Massive adjustments to company processes. Drudgery tasks that no one wants to do. Team or leadership changes. Societal challenges (Covid, anyone?). 

All of these things and many more can make it difficult for employees to want to engage in their jobs.

The corporate buzzword-y solution is very often to “motivate the team.” Meaning, give the team some ra-ra pep talk by channeling your inner Tony Robbins. 

That will solve the problem, surely. . . . .right?

Maybe? For a minute it might make the team feel better, but what do you do when some of the challenges are long-term.

A one-time motivational talk doesn’t really help for long when adjusting to big company changes that take time or living through an almost year-long pandemic.

So as a leader what do you do?

The first thing to do is to share your vision or the company vision with the team and do it often. 

Dealing with shifting processes or personnel changes? Employees want to know why. Not knowing can often lead to fear and uncertainty in employees, which directly impacts performance.

When employees understand the why, the goal, the vision--and I mean truly understand--they’re more likely to get to work on their own without additional prodding.

Communicating your vision shouldn’t be a one-time event though. It should happen regularly in every team meeting and in one on ones. Sometimes having posters up around the office or sending regular emails reminding employees of how they’re contributing can also help in these efforts.

The second thing to do is to involve employees as much as you can in decisions and in creating and defining processes. 

When employees feel like they have no control over a situation, it can make it hard for them to work productively. Giving your employees choices and allowing them to have control over part of the process encourages them to feel involved and part of the process. When they have a little skin in the game and feel a sense of ownership you won’t have to worry about motivating your employees.

Lastly, encourage and support your team.

Sometimes sharing your vision and collaborating with employees as part of the process isn’t enough or even possible. If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that there are some things we just can’t control or anticipate. In these situations reminding employees that you’re in this as a team, frequently telling them what a great job they’re doing, and encouraging continued excellence in performance may be all you can do. Sometimes employees just need to be seen, heard, and recognized for their efforts. 

As a leader it can be challenging to encourage employees to perform well when external situations make it difficult. By getting them bought into your vision, helping them to be involved, and providing encouragement and support can go a long way in your efforts to motivate your team.

(As seen on Present Future Foundation.)

Originally Published 5/12/21

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