Widespread job cuts and severe financial constraints combined with the toughest trading conditions experienced for years have left employees drained, scarred and significantly less productive than previously. It’s also left leaders wondering how to re-motivate their staff.
The damage caused by recession to a business and those who work within it can be significant. There’s the sleepless nights experienced by employees wondering if they were to become victims of the next round of redundancies. Then there is the mental, emotional and physical effect on leaders who have the job of telling staff that they no longer have a job. Sometimes we then have to look at how we can re-motivate ourselves.
Other implications are the loss of trust that can occur when an employer is forced to make redundancies. The plummeting levels of motivation, the reduced performance of the team and a sense of general dissatisfaction can often result.
Great leaders can work with an exhausted workforce to re-build confidence and bring back a sense of security and in some cases help them not only to recover but release more of their potential.
The following tips are simple ways to re-motivate staff, and perhaps it’s their simplicity that fools us in to thinking that either they won’t really make the difference, or that we’re doing them as well as we could when we could be even better.
Here are 7 ways of re-igniting your workforce.
1) One of the best ways to achieve this is to build a shared view of your organisation’s vision of moving back to the good times with the employees who are crucial to your future success. (Yes not everyone who’s still with you should really be with you, but that’s another story). What’s your company or departments version of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”. It worked because he spoke from the heart and because it inspired those who heard him. It wasn’t dry words or 2 sentences passing for a game of business lingo bingo. If your vision isn’t clear and inspiring those who work for you then either it’s the wrong vision or you have the wrong people.
2) Set short term goals that are achievable and believable. These help to get people’s confidence back. If you were a marathon runner that had broken your leg and just had your pot off you wouldn’t think ‘right 28 miles next Saturday’. You’d start out gradually and build back up. After a series of hard times and setbacks look for the small wins, they are more powerful than you anticipate at reinvigorating people.
3) Use the 80:20 principle. 20% of your activities will bring in 80% of your results. Identify which activities are contributing the most to the business and focus on ensuring they get priority. Once you’ve done this for yourself you can work with your staff so they can identify what to focus on.
4) Praise freely and mean it. We all like to be told we’re doing a good job and a genuine thank you goes a long way. In fact when we’re de-motivated, praise is like finding water in the desert. The key is that you have to mean what you say, if praising people isn’t in your nature then increase it over time. Yes some staff are going to bite back and make a comment about how they feel, and with time and continued genuine praise this will go. You’ll also notice other people start doing things so that they too can receive praise.
5) Praise the person not the task. The above tip works wonders, but this is more powerful. Very often we naturally praise the task. “You did a great presentation”, “thanks for mending the breakdown so quickly”. Yet we’re not machines, and when we are recognised, not just the thing we did, then how we feel about ourselves and the company we work for increase. “Great presentation, I loved your sense of humour in handling x”. “John you are a star, that breakdown could have cost us thousands with customer Y, you’ve made the difference.” The later examples are more specific, more personal. A universal human trait is that we like to know that we matter, more than what we do matters.
6) Have honest conversations. Use the yearly objective setting session to discuss levels of motivation, drive or desire. If last year was a tough one, speak about it, get their views, allow them to vent. What’s not discussed can turn in to some monster that has a life of its own. Give them space to share their fears. You don’t have to have all the answers and this isn’t about justifying past decisions. Find out how excited they are about the year ahead and the targets they’re about to agree to? If they aren’t totally committed ask them what they think they can do to change this. The more you know your staff as individuals the easier you’ll find it to motivate them. When we connect then we can communicate. The stronger our relationship, the greater the trust we have. [If you’re wondering about improving staff engagement, this will help too.]
7) Invest in your leadership ability. Your staff can never outperform you, so if you really want to lead them out of the recession, then you will have to grow. If funds are really tight then read a few books – and implement what you think will work, otherwise there was no point reading the book. The most sizable return on investment is to get yourself a good coach and mentor. If you’re working with the right one for you then you’ll notice a difference within 90 days.