If you haven’t noticed, the United States is a nation divided. With so much tension in society today, it’s only natural that your team will experience a dip in productivity.
As a leader, you can help your team regain its mojo and focus on the positive. Taking care of your employees should be your highest priority, but keeping your business running optimally will be a welcome and needed side effect.
To help your team stay motivated, use these leadership tips to spur productivity during these days of social turmoil:
1. Organize Team Activities
Teammates can lift each other up even during the most difficult times. Americans spend more time at work than almost anywhere else, so building strong bonds can help coworkers maintain productivity even amid social discord.
Seek out opportunities for your team members to interact. Start a book club to get coworkers of all persuasions talking to—not past—each other. Dan Rather’s “What Unites Us” or Arthur C. Brooks’ “Love Your Enemies” are bridge-building choices.
If your office has some outdoor space, get a firepit and hold socially distanced cocoa breaks. Your workers will head back to their desks with rosy cheeks and a happier demeanor.
2. Offer Spontaneous Encouragement
One of a manager’s chief responsibilities is keeping their team members motivated. Always be on the lookout for employees who need a little encouragement to get through the day. At the tail end of 2020, that list of people is probably a lot longer than it was last year.
Scripted encouragement doesn’t do much good because it lacks sincerity. The encouragement you provide should be authentic, specific and spontaneous.
Beginning each morning with an office-wide “Thanks for all you do” email will sound rote. Stopping by an individual’s desk to praise the proposal they made during yesterday’s check-in will sound genuinely appreciative. Surprising employees—in a good way—will give them the boost they need to push through the rest of their day.
3. Encourage Time Off
When the world feels like it’s collapsing around them, your employees will occasionally need a break. A day or two to focus on themselves can make all the difference. Don’t just tolerate your team members taking time off; encourage it.
If you notice an employee has been nose-to-the-grindstone non-stop, ask when they plan to take some time to decompress. If you can afford it, declare a team- or companywide Refresh Day. Getting a much-needed reprieve will allow employees to clock back in re-energized and ready to hit the ground running.
4. Enable Remote Work
Many companies experimented with remote work when Covid-19 struck. Consider maintaining it as an option long after the crisis passes. Not only does working at home gives employees peace of mind, but recent research has shown that their productivity doesn’t suffer—and may even improve.
Communication is key to making remote work effective. Project management tools can ensure that all employees know which tasks they need to complete to keep work moving along. Messaging platforms can help prevent project bottlenecks by getting team members quick answers.
5. Set Small, Attainable Goals
There’s a time for BHAGS (big, hairy, audacious goals), but these days of Covid-19 stress and social unease probably aren’t it. Looking too far into the future can be stressful and cause your team’s productivity to plummet.
Instead, set smaller, short-term goals that are easier to reach. Accomplishing these goals will provide the morale boost your team needs to maintain productivity.
Perhaps your marketing team sets a goal to increase marketing-qualified leads by 50% by the end of the quarter. With all the other things on their minds, this challenge may seem overwhelming. Increasing social media exposure by X posts per day or getting X webinar sign-ups per week are more manageable objectives that can move the team toward the same end goal.
6. Promote Healthy Habits
Productive workers practice self-care. During times of social turmoil, though, your employees may find it harder to take care of themselves. Sitting in front of the TV with a plate of nachos may seem more comforting than going for that post-work run.
Do your part to promote your employees’ well-being in the workplace and after hours. Provide healthy drinks and snacks in the break room, and bring in some soul-soothing greenery. Offer discounts on home exercise equipment or online yoga courses to encourage fitness at home. When your employees are healthy and well-rested, their productivity will naturally rise.
Finally, trying to stay productive at work while simultaneously managing a mental health crisis is a recipe for disaster. If a team member is experiencing mental health issues—not uncommon during these fraught times—offer counseling. Achieving a healthier headspace will help employees better focus when they’re on the clock.
7. Celebrate the Victories
Whether it’s a small work goal or a personal achievement, take the time to acknowledge every victory. Few things are as motivating—and uniting—as celebrating a win with the entire team. Feed off each other’s energy and use the motivation to move on to your next task.
In such uncertain and fractious times, it’s important to shine a spotlight on the positive things. Use an employee engagement tool like 15Five to encourage team members to recognize their co-workers’ contributions. Hold Friday afternoon shout-out sessions to highlight the week’s wins. Get everyone involved, and they’ll support each other toward that next milestone.
Leading a team through social turmoil will never be easy. However, taking these steps can keep your team motivated to continue working through the uncertainty that surrounds them.
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