Motivating your team during isolation & social distancing.

With the constant flux of change that the effects of COVID 19 has brought about, it is natural that people can feel unsettled and apprehensive. As managers, now more than ever it is so important to stay connected with your teams and ensure you are aware of how your people are managing their situation and productivity. After speaking with numerous team leaders, coordinators, and our contractors within local government over the past few weeks, the key to success during this strange period is to ensure team engagement and have open communication channels. Being able to boost team morale and strive to inspire motivation can be a challenge when individuals are spread across remote locations. Through knowledge-sharing we can relay there are some simple methods to assist in combatting the issues you may be experiencing.

The importance of a personalised & scheduled ‘check in.’

It is easy to let the day slip away from you, however through regular and scheduled diary invitations at a reoccurring time each week, you can keep consistency for you and your teams. It will also aid in planning the week ahead and give you and your team the opportunity to reflect on the previous week, ‘lessons learned’ or great wins. Regular 121’s allows you to have more in-depth and intimate conversations than you would in a group conversation. These are great to determine clear goals, expectations to keep them on track, and to give the individual the ability to know themselves how to measure progress and stay focused. Different techniques work better for different teams/individuals and that is why the personal approach is best. Active listening and being on the lookout for those important non-verbal cues you witness such as, hesitations on a phone call, or certain body language through video calls to allow you to sense how this individual is and enables you to encourage them to open up. Many managers within council may have 30 plus people in their teams, so having the time to speak with each member each week for a lengthy time can be tricky, however many managers we spoke to commented on leaning on other senior members or supervisors to ensure check-ins have been conducted. Plus, fortnightly 121’s is an option that helps to instil reassurance in the team that they can reach out whenever needed if they are particularly struggling or lacking motivation.

Team meetings & real-time open chat.

Many councils have two open forums a day scheduled so people can call in, chat to team members, and get an update from managers. A group chat where everyone can chat to each other but can also send quick-fire questions has proven to be beneficial. Contact and updates from line managers is integral but also messages and forums with managers higher up in the business give teams a sense of solidarity and drives further connections that “we are all in this together.”

Collaborative decision making.

Inspiring motivation has been particularly successful when teams collaborate and share different ideas to encourage motivation. Open conversations have created more innovative and rewarding motivational activities and engagement. Honest and open flows of communication are essential, acknowledging both the bad and the good helps to build trust and resilience. Encouraging teamwork and collaboration can only help build resilience. Engaging the team in competitions can help solidify the team’s bond and promote motivation as they will not want to let a team mate down. Group targets and activities can inspire individuals to work harder and encourage them to build up and encourage other team members that may be struggling. Having a collective team goal has shown to lift morale in addition to productivity.

Get creative & tackle that 3 o’clock slump.

Sometimes, in these difficult times, managers and leaders must get out of their comfort zone and focus on laughter, joy and being a bit more creative. Why not schedule a team meeting to diffuse a 3pm slump, or have an interactive quiz to get the team ready and raring for the afternoon? Perhaps, set a themed recipe challenge for the whole team to get involved with. Over Easter, for example, one of the local councils sent around a hot cross bun recipe for everyone to try and on the first day back after the break the whole team showed off their creations during a video call. Embarking on social themed team video chats such as garden party or a ‘dress-up Friday’ – wear your best frock to the video chat. These things really do allow people to open up and create stronger bonds in the team.

Don’t forget, to look after your own motivation.

Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break when needed. These are tough times and you will find after a break your productivity and motivation will be much higher. Some clients of mine have offered key tips they have followed to help navigate this difficult time. When you are not working, take up a therapeutic hobby such as dance; gardening; and art. Dancing helps release endorphins and is great for your physical as well as mental health. Research has shown that art is a stress reducer and can build your self-esteem. Gardening gets you out of the house and connecting with nature. It also has been proved to increase your motor skills and stamina. Staying active. Running, walking, and cycling are all great ways to boost yourself. I know to some people starting these kinds of activities can be slightly daunting however there are a few ways to combat this. Tracking your progress and being able to see yourself improve is a great motivational tool, using apps such as Strava and Map My Run can assist you in this.

The general feedback from our clients is they are so impressed with how everyone has pulled together. Staff have proved how resilient and dedicated they are. It is great to see how innovative and people focussed local councils have been during this difficult time and how committed staff are to their respected councils.