We are living through an unprecedented time. One that affects our personal and professional lives, hampering both in ways that impinge upon our motivation. Self-isolation, social distancing and remote working are all necessary activities that separate us physically yet don’t shut down our lines of communication.
As leaders, we need to focus on maintaining our support functions with colleagues and stakeholders through this time. The conditions we find ourselves working under protect our physical health yet can impede morale.
We need to redouble our efforts to ensure that separation does not become division and demoralisation.
Our stakeholders are likely to be going through some new situations, working from home, or revised operational procedures. These provide a chance to informally check-in with stakeholders and get feedback on what is happening, and, how they are managing. Demonstrating that we are aware and understanding of the situation lets people feel engaged, that they haven’t been forgotten.
Also, make time to thank them for the effort they are making. Whether that’s to adapt in the office, taking on more responsibility, or to work from home and facing the challenges of working in a different setup. Thank them for going that extra distance to ensure that the organisation can run as smoothly as possible during turbulent times.
During check-ins with team members, make time to ask them for their feedback. What is working in the revised setup, what isn’t?
Any new setups the organisation deploy are likely to be fluid in nature. If a colleague reports that something isn’t quite working, we have more manoeuvre room to make it work than we might normally have. This kind of feedback and response acknowledges employees needs and is fundamental to how we build and maintain morale.
It’s also worth remembering that when people are thrust into a new situation they gain insight into the new situation and the old one. The point at which we return to our standard procedures try to solicit stakeholder feedback. Ask whether there was anything learned or experienced during the temporary measures, that might influence or improve the ongoing efforts. This opportunity to shape their working lives and the open acknowledgement that their opinion matters, can provide a boost to the morale of our colleagues.
During difficult times it’s worth noting where colleagues are going beyond and stepping up to meet the challenges. Failing to reward these individuals hurts their morale and those around them. Whether the reward comes in the form of praise, overtime pay, or in some other way, it is worth doing solely for morale reasons.
The individual will acknowledge that working harder and contributing in times of need is rewarding, and that makes them feel like their efforts are worthwhile. Depending on how rewards are allocated, other team members will also pick up on this correlation. Happy workers work more and do better quality work. While work isn’t everything in a person’s life, building morale and a rewarding sense of purpose is the best way to engender morale.
Our role as leaders is to be attentive to the needs and efforts of our colleagues and act appropriately to convert them into good morale for everyone.
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