“In motivating people, you’ve got to engage their minds and their hearts. I motivate people, I hope, by example—and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved.”
~ Rupert Murdoch ~
Client Jennifer asks: My employees are spending a lot of time worrying about cutbacks in staff, salaries, benefits, even working hours. I’m afraid we’re losing our edge. How can I keep my employees motivated in a bad economy?
Coach Joel answers: This may seem challenging when you are facing negative circumstances that are beyond your control. However, it can also be an opportunity for some serious team building, a chance to take your team to the next level. Here are three steps you could take right now.
- Clear the air
- Start something new
- Build on success
1. Clear the air.
Whenever a whole group starts to lose its edge, you first need to acknowledge the reality. Have an all-hands talk session and encourage people to share their concerns. Make this meeting informal, and not a part of a staff meeting or other department function. The sole purpose is to let people say what’s on their minds.
If people have lost friends and co-workers due to cutbacks and layoffs, one of two things is happening: either your employees are living in fear that the next pink slip will be theirs; or they have survivor’s guilt because they still have a job. Combine this with the fact that you as a manager are being asked to do more with less, and you have a real challenge.
Listen to what your people have to say. Acknowledge that you are all under pressure. Guide the discussion, however, and don’t let it degenerate into a gripe session.
2. Start something new.
Once everyone has had a chance to air their feelings, take on a new project. This can be as simple as cleaning out the storage room, or as complex as creating a new ad campaign. Ask for suggestions from the group about some idea or project that’s been languishing on the back burner.
Rather than assigning roles, let people do what they do best. Ask for volunteers and suggestions from the group. As one of the country’s leading modern motivational speakers, I talk to managers every day who struggle to stay in control—of their departments, their projects, and their people. The secret is to let them take back some control. When the external environment is out of control, people need to feel that they still have some power over their own lives. This is your chance to give it to them.
3. Build on success.
There’s no such thing as too much acknowledgement. Chart the team’s progress and give plenty of public and private praise. Make sure the project has a timeline and a target completion date. When it’s finished, celebrate and provide a tangible reward, even if it’s as simple as a pizza party or movie tickets. Let everyone enjoy the feeling of success, and then build on that success by repeating the process we’ve outlined here whenever it’s appropriate.
When times are tough, someone who understands team building and intrapersonal relationships may be able to give your team a jump start. A good coach can help you design a program that meets your specific needs. Contact Joel for more information.
Talkback: Is your team pulling together right now? Have you tried some motivational tactics that worked for you? Leave your comments here, or ask Joel a question for a future Q & A with Joel.
“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”
~ John Buchan ~
Do you head a corporation that’s struggling with its brand image? Do you need a sure-fire solution to increase sales now?
Here’s a story about how one company invested in a professional leadership motivational speaker and increased sales by 10 percent in just six months.
Ginny Benson was the HR manager of a software company that employed around 200 people. Software sales were below expectations for the first and second quarter and the company was looking to downsize.
Ginny knew that the first job cuts would be in the sales department, which employed smart, young, dynamic individuals with never-ending enthusiasm but not much experience. The company had invested a lot in building their brand identity, and Ginny, with over 15 years experience, felt that many of the new sales team members didn’t have a solid understanding of the corporate vision and brand to reflect in their sales meetings with clients, which resulted in their low sales figures.
She urged top leaders to invest in a speaker and give the sales team another chance. Management agreed, and a seasoned speaker was hired.
After conducting in-depth research and interviews, the speaker came up with a 6-month plan that included leadership training, improving brand perception, and sales training.
Here are the top 3 reasons why hiring a professional motivational speaker helped increase sales by 10%:
- Helped bridge the gap. Every corporation has a vision, but trickling that vision down to all levels of the organization is critical. After consulting with top executives, management, and the sales team, the speaker discovered that there was a huge disconnect between what top leaders thought the company’s brand identity and vision was and what the sales team perceived it to be. The leadership training sessions focused on bridging the gap so that everyone was on the same page.
- Provided necessary tools. The speaker not only helped the sales team gain a clearer understanding of the corporate brand but also provided leadership development tools and resources on how to convey that brand identity to clients. Aligning the corporate brand identity with what clients wanted to hear helped to improve the clients’ perception of the brand image, opened up communication, and left less room for doubts.
- Got the team to clinch the sale. Quiet confidence speaks volumes. Any body language expert knows that what you don’t say matters most. Top management noticed that with newfound knowledge and tools the company’s sales team exhibited increased levels of confidence in not only clinching the deal but also gaining valuable customer feedback to fine-tune the brand image according to client expectations.
Ginny knew that experienced motivational speakers are professionals who are worth their weight in gold. Although the year-end bonus and the accolades she received from top leaders for her smart thinking mattered, Ginny’s biggest source of satisfaction came from the fact that she had played a part in saving quite a few jobs.
Does your sales team need help communicating your brand identity to clients? Hire a professional corporate speaker to help them out.
Talkback: For your company’s brand identity to be effective, it must be understood by every employee. How do you communicate your corporate brand identity across all levels of your organization? Leave a comment and let us know what has worked for you!
The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company; you own your career!
~ Earl Nightingale ~
If you are being forced to lay off employees, you have probably already given some thought to applying downsizing motivation theory to keep your surviving employees motivated before, during, and after the layoffs. However, you should also be concerned about motivating your exiting employees. Employees who are laid off are much more likely to speak negatively about the company if they are given little or no support as they transition back into the job market.
When it comes to motivating those who are experiencing loss, encouragement is key. As George Mattew Adams wrote, “Encouragement is like oxygen for the soul.” It is during the most difficult times in a person’s life that encouragement is most needed and appreciated. Losing a job is one of those times. By offering encouragement to your exiting employees, you will help them keep a positive outlook, which is essential to improving their chances of finding new employment.
Here are six ways you can encourage your exiting employees to keep their spirits up as they begin their job search:
- Encourage them to take action.
Acknowledge their fears, but help them create a solid plan and encourage them to take concrete steps to move forward in spite of their fears.
- Encourage them to focus on their strengths.
Consider working with an outplacement coaching service that specializes in downsizing motivation theory to help your employees identify their strengths, accomplishments, and potential.
- Emphasize the positives.
Many times, employees who are laid off will end up in positions that are better suited to their skills and personality. Others may find that it gives them the courage they need to pursue their dreams.
- Help them see the possibilities.
Opportunities are everywhere. Encourage your exiting employees to be alert to new opportunities, from pursuing a different career path to start their own businesses.
- Provide resources to help them transition to a new job or career.
Implement an outplacement program that incorporates job skill training, resume services, and other career transition services.
- Listen without being judgmental.
Displaced workers often need someone who will listen to their concerns and fears. Allow them to express their anxieties and try to encourage them as much as possible.
Encouragement is the single most important aspect of motivation theory when downsizing employees. Sometimes a single encouraging word is all it takes to motivate someone who is feeling defeated.
Do you want to offer something a little more solid to support your exiting employees as they look for new jobs? Consider a career outplacement program to help them unleash the power of networking and land the jobs they’ve always dreamed of.