Motivating Employees In Uncertain Times

April 5, 2014

ID-100249572As a manager, turbulent times in business give you an opportunity to shine. They can also tax even the best bosses. How do you meaningfully motivate your employees when they are rightfully worried about their jobs and their bonuses?

Employees want to be encouraged about the future, but news about the economy, conversations with some customers, and input from others in the organization can often leave them feeling uncomfortable and unsure. And it doesn’t help that every time they open a newspaper, surf social media or listen to the nightly news they’re bombarded with bad employment numbers and stories of layoffs. How do you balance these conflicting ideas, maintain a positive environment, be truthful, and keep employees focused both the present and the future? Here are three ways to navigate the storm from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana:

Focus On Teamwork — Times of trouble make teamwork even more crucial than ever. This is the period when you should clarify your company’s goals and missions, and how your team members contribute to that vision. As a manager, highlight likely opportunities for the future, and explain how your team will be part of those projects. Cementing this team mentality will give them a sense of ownership, which is essential to feeling invested in a company—especially if it’s a time when you can’t issue any pay raises.

Create Great Communication — One of the most stressful parts of downsizing is the lack of information often associated with it. Hearing about possible changes through the grapevine make employees likely to look elsewhere for new employment. Make yourself visible and approachable. Listen to concerns, and address them when you can. Make phone calls to off-site employees, email regularly, and physically walk through the office more than you normally would. Also consider creating and maintaining an internal online intranet, newsletter, or social media site to keep employees up to date on company news. Digital tools like these cost little but can have a big impact.

Create Quality Of Life “Raises” — Along with emphasizing teamwork and a communal mission, you can encourage education and learning, which will help employees see that you’re investing in them. If your company can pay for education, on-the-job training, health initiatives like workout classes or even quality of life “bonuses” like Summer Fridays, now might be the time to do it. If financial cutbacks make that impossible, promote free or inexpensive initiatives, like peer-to-peer mentoring. Ask your employees what matters to them besides money. Is it hands on feedback? Is it direct input from the executive team or an extra day off a month? Find that out, and try to make it happen, particularly if you have to cut back in other areas.

Finally, remember that managers cannot retreat to the office and hope the situation will simply cure itself. Times won’t always be tough, but how you handle your staff now will reflect more on you as a manager than the easy times. See this as an opportunity to grow–and your team will follow your lead.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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