Sustaining a motivated workforce during the pandemic
A key role for leaders in these unprecedented COVID-19 times is to engage and motivate their teams effectively. Easier said than done.
To help us to find the answers, it’s useful to look at some of the main elements of engagement and motivation. There are numerous engagement theories and models out there but at their core, they have based on the premise that engagement is a positive relationship between the employee and employer. A relationship where there are mutual goals, respect and care; a relationship where challenges can be openly discussed and there is a collaborative approach to finding solutions that enable the individual and the organisation to flourish.
Motivation is a key goal of engagement, and together, they have been shown to bring benefits. It is important therefore to explore engagement within the context of the pandemic. So, how can we be the most engaging and motivating leader to your team? Having looked at different angles and research on engagement and motivation we have five top tips.
Leaders will have to agree with team members on a way of working together over the next few months, to accommodate their needs and to show empathy. For example, given their other responsibilities (such as childcare), how do they want to manage their work? What times are they likely to be available, and when are they not available? What communication channels work best? What are their concerns and how might you help them? This then forms the basis of an operating system that works for all parties.
It is good to begin with the end in mind. Leaders need to work with their teams to agree on priorities to consolidate short term energy. These objectives should be realistic and timed. Victories along the way should be celebrated to create momentum for the future.
Lots of people will be new to remote working and will need a lot of reassurance. Physical presence makes this easier, so there needs to be a plan to convey this remotely. Leaders need to purposefully communicate this assurance. It is also important to do this formally, not as side-banters.
Flexibility is no longer a leadership competitive advantage. It is a leadership survival tool. You need to be flexible about how you work with each team member to optimize team performance. People will relate differently to the pandemic and this will affect their performance in different ways. Flexibility in your expectations of your team, the timescales in which you can deliver things and how you respond to the changing context you are operating is extremely important.
Amid all of this turbulence, it can be difficult to think long-term. Leaders need to however sell hope of a bright future. A good way to do this is clearly articulating a vision, building consensus around that vision and creating the energy required to deliver this future. Engaging people to keep them motivated is a critical key in unlocking this future.
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