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Motivating staff through harder times


When faced with challenging economic conditions, managers can often face an uphill challenge to keep their teams motivated and engaged in their work. Often people will be worried about the security of their jobs, and will be watching those higher up closely to try to gauge what will happen in the future. They may become concerned that their own performance will be under renewed attention and start making careless errors or, conversely, begin to lower their productivity because they feel that their efforts will no longer produce any personal benefit for them.


Here, then, are some key points every manager should consider when their organisation is going through a rough patch.


Don’t isolate yourself


Managers might assume that the atmosphere of raised stress and worry around an organisation means that their presence is not wanted in an office. This is very often a mistake – people will likely read as much into a lack of presence, as they would into the other extreme of a constant, looming presence. The difference is that a manager who stays connected with his team will be far better placed to communicate updates and developments in a way that retains their trust and keeps them better engaged.


Be conscious that your words will be closely analysed


During difficult moments, it is important as a manager to remember that even off-the-cuff or incidental comments may be understand in the wrong way. Jokes might be misinterpreted, feedback might be read as harsh criticism, and praise might be considered as indicative of company plans on which positions are considered ‘safe’. Be aware that obtuse language will help nobody – you won’t be properly understood and employees may be left with a false impression of circumstances.


Keep planning


Through strained times, it is important to keep planning for your department. Not only does this ensure that your company is better prepared for a market upswing, it also demonstrates to your reports that there is still a long-term to plan for at all.


Provide for their development


If cash for pay raises and bonuses is short, development opportunities can be an excellent way to demonstrate to employees that their wellbeing and engagement is still important to the company. In addition, this allows you to develop in-house abilities – perhaps increasing skills in a new area or raising productivity in a role they are already undertaking. 
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