How do you keep employees motivated when times are troubled? If your go-to motivation strategy is a bonus or pay raise, you may be in trouble. What are other techniques that are even more powerful than financial rewards?
Give people interesting work. People want to keep them growing and learning. Provide enough autonomy so that people can express their unique contributions while they also address the organization’s needs.
Redouble your efforts to communicate. Give people frequent status updates during a crisis. Allow them to ask questions and then answer them to the best of your ability. Open communication derails rumors, gossip and misinformation.
Share both reality and hope. An earlier blog post featured the Stockdale Paradox – a mixture of 1) faith that you’ll prevail AND 2) discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality. Share both the grim realities and the reasons you’re going to not only survive, but thrive.
Be around and really listen. With so many important ideas to share, it might be easy to stop listening. Get out of your office and find out what’s on people’s minds. Then you’ll know what/how to communicate.
Make light of things. In fact, be a bit silly. Start a “joke of the week” contest. Tell your team it’s “bring a banana to work day.” You surprise them with ice cream and other toppings for banana splits. Levity defuses tension and builds camaraderie, but keep the jokes clean and poke fun at yourself, not others.
Things may seem gloomy now, but you can provide a light in the darkness to calm the people around you. In the process, you may also find that the steps you take to keep people engaged and motivated in crisis are the very things you should have been doing all along.
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Good blog and good info.
Hope my HR department will head some of this advice.
I agree with up-ing the communication in tough times. Here is how one leader I know handled communication about layoffs:
The leader was committed to being 100% consistently honest and straightforward. When asked days before a layoff, Are there going to be layoffs?, he faced a dilemma. He could have said No which is not true and would come to light in a matter of days. Or he could have said yes which would be true and have problems for him, the audience, his team and the organization. He said, “I know the answer to that question, AND I can’t tell you the answer right now for these reasons. You will find out on this day.”