Keeping it together during a shake up

When there’s been a mass ‘purge’ of people, those that stay can be left in the swill of survivor’s guilt, anger, resentment or apathy. It’s not a pretty sight. If motivation is linked to production then this does not augur well.

Here are 10 practical ways to increase motivation amongst staff…

1. Say thank you. Drop an email, a text or do this face to face: it’s simply not said enough but when it is people will be more likely to help out again.

2. In times of change, keep your people in the loop: a weekly team meet, a departmental newsletter, a town-hall meeting. Your company culture is different from others so you’ll find the best way to do this. We need enough information to make good decisions about our work and regain the feeling of being back in some control.

3. For those particularly affected by change, keep it personal and face-to-face. Listen to their concerns – that will also tell you what keeps them driven. Make sure they understand what any changes would mean for their job, goals, time allocation and decisions.

4. Job swapping is a fantastic way of building team collaboration and understanding. You’ll need to ensure the administration is water-tight, though. To keep it simple, you can avoid doing a straight swap and have people partner each other. What’s also a good idea is to have a 25 year old teaming up with a 55 year old and seeing what they learn from each other…Other ideas with less admin involved are BBQs, and liquid refreshments go down well (Julian Richer, founder of UK hi-fi retailer Richer Sounds, subs this with £5 a head allowance). In one of the banks in which I consulted recently, there’s a plethora of collectives with their own activities such as seminars, days out and mentoring opportunities. Note that all these activities span departments and roles.

5. Employees find interaction and communication with and attention from senior and executive managers motivational. In a recent study by Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson), the Global Workforce Study which included nearly 90,000 workers from 18 countries, the role of senior managers in attracting employee effort exceeded that of contact with immediate supervisors. So when was the last time you saw them?

6. Keep ideas fresh. Training makes teams more cohesive and with the input of new ideas, adds new colours to the palatte. Lunch time slots where someone shares a skill or experience that they think could help others. For example, in a school that I know of the teachers regularly run sessions for each other on areas of individual speciality such as learning styles, creative storytelling and behaviour management.

7. Give public recognition to staff who have achieved particularly well. Whether a bouquet or an announcement on a notice board, give recognition where it’s due. Remember to acknowledge life events such as births, enquiring about holidays, and generally, showing interest in the individual.

8. Expand the job to include new, higher level responsibilities. Assign responsibilities to the employee that will help him or her grow their skills and knowledge. Stretching assignments develop staff capabilities and increase their ability to contribute at work. (Remove some of the time-consuming, less desirable job components at the same time, so the employee does not feel that what was delegated was “more” work.)

9. Employees appreciate a responsive and involved relationshipwith their immediate supervisor. Avoid cancelling regular meetings, and if you must, stop by the employee’s work area to apologize, offer the reason, and immediately reschedule. Regularly missing an employee meeting send a powerful message of disrespect.

10. Observe basic needs: those aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs will know that the basic needs consist of sustainance, climate and space. So if the toilet’s blocked, there’s no coffee in the kitchen and the offices are too hot to work in, you’ll need to address this. It will eat into your employees’ motivation like a moth into wool.


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