How to motivate colleagues when the chips are down

16 July 2019 -

Rock climbers on wallPositive attitudes, clear communication and effective feedback are key

When times are tough, it’s the manager’s role to help employees stay engaged, focused, and motivated. It’s in these difficult times that you need them to be at their best — so here are a few ways to improve morale:

Ask, what motivates you?

Reflect on what motivates you, then put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes, and consider how to motivate your team. Are they craving more autonomy or responsibility in their work? More positive support when the chips are down? Identify what your team feel they are lacking, and create achievable goals and milestones for them to aim for; these could be tailored individually, or unified for the entire team.

Offer praise

In tough times, financial incentives may not be possible, but a word of praise costs nothing. Give credit where credit is due and thank them for their hard work. Look to find someone doing something well and tell them; making your team feel appreciated will only push them to continue their great work.

Give developmental feedback

Positive and effective feedback can fuel motivation even in tough times.It’s important to engage employees in meaningful discussions about their progress and achievements and offer thoughtful comments on areas for development or improvement. Discuss next steps or future targets in performance appraisals and development reviews, and create an environment where everybody feels they can speak up and make a contribution.

Keep them in the loop

Make sure your communication of change or challenges is clear. Deliver as much information as you can in person — particularly if there are going to be redundancies, budget cuts, or new additions to your team. Encourage your team to ask any questions or concerns that they have and be well equipped to answer them. Be as reassuring as you can be. It’s during these times that staff can begin to feel negative, morale starts to wane, and motivation suffers, so combat this with making them feel included in the process.

Stay positive

As a manager, you have two difficult jobs: demonstrating empathy towards your employees and handling your own worries.Your company will have appropriate channels for you to express your own concerns, and you are the channel for your employees to voice theirs.. Use your position to nip negativity in the bud and remove demotivators, if necessary, and identify external factors that de-motivate staff.

There’s no doubt that it’s harder to keep your employees focused and energetic when the chips are down. These few simple steps can help employees stay positive, and also help you when the good times return, enabling you to retain your best performers when competitors come calling. Make use of our e-learning course on motivating people by logging into CMI's Career Development Centre.

Image: Shutterstock


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