How do I keep my team motivated in this new reality? 7 steps for you and your team to stay energised
Jul 13th, 2020
“Remember to look up at the stars, not down at your feet.”
Restrictions around coronavirus are easing now, but many people, especially those still working from home, report they are feeling flat and even experiencing a sense of loss. Many are realising that the spontaneity, spark and human touch of working at the office – the quick question to a colleague at the next desk, the chats at the coffee machine, the drinks after work – may never fully come back. Barclays CEO Jes Staley, for example, has said big-city offices may be a thing of the past, while Twitter has announced that its employees, in the UK and globally, maybe working from home, as Jack Dorsey put it, “forever”.
Today’s leaders need to energise their teams, and themselves, rekindling the spark to motivate and develop cohesive, creative teams with a sense of belonging in our new part remote, part office-based reality. One important factor towards that is acceptance. Accepting that some things are here to stay is a crucial step to finding new ambition, instead of feeling resentment or resignation over not being able to change them. Leaders also need to recognise that each of their team members will have had different experiences during the coronavirus crisis, and so different ways of getting to acceptance and feeling motivated.
In response to a client’s question of how do I continue to motivate our teams?, I went through Maslow’s 5 hierarchy of needs and asked where he and his team members were, which revealed many assumptions. He is now asking members of his team where they see themselves on Maslow’s hierarchy and finding that some feel that the basics, like safety and security are not being fully met, whereas others were looking for a sense of belonging or recognition. He has recognised that, now more than ever, it is a leader’s responsibility to continue the regular one-to-ones that were a cornerstone every month at the office and that have sometimes been pushed aside to make room for so many Zoom meetings.
Really knowing who your team are often reveals dormant talents, allowing you to tap into their strengths and bringing them recognition and new energy. Several clients have come forth during this period and demonstrated their capabilities in a crisis. One client found herself with more freedom to communicate during lockdown. She used it to send personalised daily emails on market updates that were informative, creative and often humorous. These created a real connection with both clients and team-members, brightening up their day. Today, she not only runs her company’s highest performing office, but she has validated her authentic voice and increased her profile internally and externally.
Expressing a compelling vision as a leader and encouraging your team members to clarify their own will also bring both you and them energy and excitement and so the motivation to move forward. Contributing to other people’s dreams will allow them to lift their head from the fears and frustrations that they are experiencing today and look upwards and outwards to a more fulfilling and successful future.
Are you struggling to help yourself and your teams accept and work within our new reality? Are you looking for ways to energise yourself and motivate your teams? If so, here are some ideas to help you lift your eyes to the stars.
- Get to know every member of your team
Taking the time to have meaningful conversations with your team members will make them feel valued, let you know who they really are and help build resilience strategies. What has been their experience of the pandemic? Are they well, but worried? Have they been affected directly by the virus? Have they actually lost a loved one? People in these three different groups will have different needs in their daily work and from their leaders. It may be helpful to have a team session on strategies to build resilience, including asking members to share a previous experience where they overcame difficult times and how they grew and were shaped by that.
- Use the power of questions
If you don’t ask questions, you won’t get the answers that could to help you discover your team’s talents or inspire their creativity. Team members bringing a question on a current challenge to a meeting and asking each participant to offer a solution can make it the most energising meeting of the day and will almost always spark one or two great ideas. Carving out regular sessions to think as a team has never been more important and this has led me to develop regular 1.5 hour Virtual Creative Thinking Roundtables (for further information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Take time to reflect and grow
When one of my clients, a recently appointed CEO, told me he was feeling flat despite many successes since lockdown, I asked him what he felt was missing for him. He realised it was the reflective time he used to spend on his daily train commute and a walk to the office along the river and committed to making a walk from home part of his new routine, every day. Taking time like this is essential, especially as we all learn to adapt to our new context.
- Create a framework of success
As the constraints of the pandemic continue, we often forget just how much we have achieved during this difficult time. Writing a list of what you and your team have accomplished is a great tool for resilience. It will ensure you don’t forget your successes and the strategies you used to achieve them, as well as creating a record that you can come back to when times are tough again.
- Prioritise happiness
A CEO in the banking industry based in Asia, has made her happiness a priority as she has built her career. Early on, she made a list of what made her happy and gave her energy. She has made changes to it over time and whenever she has a new career opportunity, especially one with difficult challenges, she checks it against her list before making her decision. She also makes a point of knowing what makes every one of her team members happy – what makes them come into work every day. Something as simple as a happiness list can be a key part of success – for you and your teams.
- Storytelling to engage
People love to hear a story. Talking about client loyalty sounds abstract, but giving an example of a specific success, and how you cemented a long-term relationship that made the client reiterate that they will never leave, will really hit home. Likewise, a vision can sound like words in a brochure, but talking passionately about why you first started your business or why you were excited to take on a new role will strike a chord and ignite enthusiasm.
- Practice humility
Showing humility is important in times like these, as the situation is new for all us and so we’re bound to make mistakes. If you get something wrong, say so, and add that you’ll do better next time. By being open and honest you will gain respect and give your team the psychological safety to take risks and so be more creative. Extensive research by Google in its Project Aristotle has shown that a team climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect – or psychological safety – leads to higher performance by the team as a whole. As Toto Wolff, CEO of the Mercedes Formula 1 team puts it: Failure + Reflection = Progress.
If you are looking for guidance on supporting and energising your team, why not consider our specially developed virtual team programme, Leading in Turbulent Times. Or think about organising a Virtual Creative Thinking Roundtable. Begin the conversation by emailing me at email@example.com
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