How To Keep Your Staff Motivated In A Period Of Downturn

I think it’s fair to assume that not everyone in the business world has significant experience in dealing successfully with recession and the downturns it carries with it. When business flourishes, people are  motivated and enthused with promises of promotions or a bonuses.

However, when the cash flow starts shrinking and decision makers start facing stressful situations, negative affect on the employees is amplified. In tough times, managers’ tasks of motivating the employees to stay focused and engaged should be approached with special care. One-on-one approach is especially important because each individual handles stress differently.

Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that can help out in crisis situations:

1. Stay Consistent

A damaging sense of uncertainty can be created when dealing with people who blow hot and cold or with an inconsistent set of expectations. Leaders and managers should have a consistent approach to decision making, while employees should be confident that decisions are being brought for the right reasons and will be changed when the reasons for that are valid enough.

It is not acceptable for a business leader to be moody or have a favorite within a team. For a successful organization, the ego must be dropped.

2. Have Integrity

Between the leader and those who are led, there should always be trust. Trust is vital for achieving and maintaining a quality relationship, but it must be earned. When team members trust each other, then they are ready to face the most challenging circumstances, while without it the future is uncertain. Nowadays, people in power (such as politicians) are capable of manipulating by being economical and disingenuous with the truth, but once it gets destroyed, it is almost impossible to reinstate it.

Being honest and up front is a lot less damaging in the long run, even when the message itself is unpopular.

3. Listen

An opportunity for people to have their say and an opportunity to make an influence on what is to happen has to be created, because it can significantly reduce dissatisfaction and stress.

Ask yourself this: who listens to my employees and what happens as a result of those conversations? Taking decisions with referencing those who perform the work on a daily basis is important and valuable, but is still often neglected. Using their expertise and experience can save costly mistakes and time.

4. Value Contributions Of Each Individual

What is a stronger motivator than money? When a staff member feels valued as an individual by the organization he is a part of. This should not be a mechanistic process, but done from the heart. What are their personal aspirations? Who takes notice when they do well? Did your managers go through a leadership training process to be able to pay attention to this aspect?

5. Give Them A Sense Of Certainty

We are able to function far better when our most basic needs are satisfied. Safety or certainty is one of them. A sense of control and safety can be given to people, even in those moments when certainty far away from the grasp of your hands.

Involve people early on in the process, be truthful, and keep them informed and updated. The feeling of being kept out of the story and not knowing is what creates the most anxiety and destroys their motivation.

6. Know What Motivates Them & Create Realistic Expectations

Simple things such as the actions they take and the language they use can lead you to discovering what motivates them. Once you understand their internal drives, it will be easier for you to speak their language and give them an opportunity to prosper. Also, only promise what you know you can deliver and let them know what is expected from them. Then, they will take responsibility for their work and cannot take the excuse of things being unfair for them.

In tough times, it’s very important that leaders remind the staff of what the organization stands for and that they all share the same goals – moving forward successfully. Pay attention to members of your team individually, leave the ego outside the office and do not underestimate the power of sincerity, kind words and thankfulness.

About the author: John Stone is a business consultant and regular contributor to Bizzmarkblog. A believer in the notion that form should always follow function and that thinking outside of the box is a prerequisite of being a successful entrepreneur.

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