How to Boost Business Team Motivation in Times of Crisis

In the event of a crisis, everything is put to test. Small businesses, large businesses, families, relationships, and even individual resilience are tested, with our worst fears becoming a reality in the face of uncertainty.
Floods, wildfires, pandemics, drought...the list is endless but with team effort, even when faced by crises as challenging as the COVID-19 outbreak, there's a huge chance of emerging stronger than before. This is why team motivation is crucial to corporate firms and small businesses alike, and even to entire nations to say the least. Unfortunately, the management dichotomy in the modern workplace is far from perfect when it comes to teamwork. Consider the following scenario:

Hugh is the boss of a  small business enterprise in Perth. One of his employees is Maryline. Maryline is part of the small business human relations team, chosen as the leader of team motivation due to her charismatic, friendly, and enthusiastic energy at all times in and out of work. In an attempt to make her infectious demeanor transmit to the rest of the employees, she was put in charge of team motivation, where she encourages, guides, and empowers employees to thrive even when the business is facing losses. Hugh's confidence is in Sara, and he basically takes her as a mentor to all his employees, therefore, he finds team motivation well covered. 

This said, Hugh does not attend meetings, presumably because he is busy looking for clients and strategizing on how to make the businesses more profitable. In all honesty, however, Hugh is an introvert and finds it challenging to be bursty or even communicate with his employees. This was quite problematic, and the epitome of his misdemeanor was obvious one time when he texted Maryline saying "Kindly pack up and go home. Do not report to work tomorrow. Wait till I get in touch. Thanks" Maryline was perturbed, was she fired? Was the boss angry at her? He would have called her in case it was something serious, right? Was she overthinking this? So many things went through her mind and at that moment she couldn't bring herself to calling her boss for fear of the unexpected. 

She packed up, locked up, and left, only to realize that the infamous Australian wildfires had broken out close to the business's location. Her boss was just looking out for her. Though it was a nice gesture, the anxiety was surely uncalled for. 

The story is a perfect representation of the nature of the interrelationships between employees in the modern workplace today. Be it a grocery shop, renowned law firm, textile manufacturing, or any other establishment, teamwork is quite a challenge, especially amongst lower and higher-ranked employees. This is not necessarily because of condescending opinions but more often than not because communication barriers may be extremely heightened amongst the two groups. Whether you're Hugh or Maryline in the story, this article is for you. 

Is Team motivation really important during a Crisis? 

The first step involves giving you invaluable reasons as to why team motivation is extremely important, especially when faced by a crisis. This will help you take the tips to encourage team motivation with seriousness, just as they deserve. Simply put, CEOs, bosses, and department managers do not have all the answers. Just because a person possesses leadership qualities, or somehow managed to land themselves at the top of the employment ladder does not mean that they know everything. In times such as this, an amalgamation of the knowledge from every nook and corner in the company is necessary so as to face the crisis stronger together. 

As a boss, it is actually quite natural that you will be overwhelmed by the weight of all urgent matters needing to be addressed from all sides. Perhaps you have to secure loans to finance the business, address shareholders before they lose all trust in the company or simply ensure employees stick it out and walk with you in these hard times, to the end. Team motivation is the solution to reducing psychological pressure. 
Team motivation needs to be at the top of every business leader's list and business coaches' as well. Crises have the ability to literally make or break a team, and could, therefore, mean the success or failure of the business. As business leaders, CEOs, small business owners, and managers need to be at the top of the motivation game, now more than ever. When the right actions and words are chosen, they have the ability to keep the team glued together, pushing, till the last day of the crisis. Some of the right steps of action will be discussed. They all endeavor to prevent the team from falling into distress, panic, rumors, disharmony and finally succumb to the crisis. A team leader will, therefore, be able to reassure his employees, encourage them, and keep them on the right track to preserve and deliver the best possible outcomes for the business. 

Despite bearing the lion's share of the burden, with team motivation, a leader can build relationships, create a thriving workplace culture, and connect with all employees. All he/ she has to do is have a sound mind, be at the forefront of the race against the crisis, and finally have an uplifting attitude. Not only will the trick work magic during the crisis, but it will also yield an unmatched work ethic long after the crisis is gone. To be this kind of leader during a crisis, here are top tips to get you started:

1. Your Team’s Safety Comes First.

Sure, profits are great, but profits are nothing against the lives of human beings. Do not insist that your team members come to work, or push their limits in any way that poses a risk to their lives. There is power in caring about someone, enough to be ready to lose money so that they can be safe. As in the case study narrated before, had Hugh not cared to notify Maryline of the work relief, she would have probably stayed at work till late, and show up the next day for fear of losing her job. Despite the panic, after Maryline had realized that the instructions were to safeguard her life and general well-being, the gratitude and appreciation were heartfelt. It was the best decision Hugh could have made. 

In the same way, the priority should always be getting employees out of dangerous situations. People need to feel safe amidst a crisis. This is more so in cities. In Australia for example, cities are flocked by thousands of people in small districts, therefore, they are the best locations for small and large businesses. Despite this, however, crises attack the city like no other place. With the coronavirus, for example, highly populated zones face a much higher risk of exposure, which translates to cities. If you're a small business owner in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, and other Australian cities popular for the business culture, it is imperative that safety comes first. Unlike Hugh, however, be sure to specify the 'why' to avoid speculations and rumors which create panic and distress. Make sure all employees know that their safety and well being are indisputable, hence measures taken. In this you will have:

Made them know that they are an important part of the teamMade the hard decision of choosing between their safety and work. Ensured that the team also cares as well for you, therefore, fights alongside you to resolve the crisis. Used team motivation in communicating safety measures, and reasons for them. 

2. Don’t Pretend That There’s No Fire When Everyone Can Smell the Smoke

Mainstream opinions could have you think that when you share your worries, uncertainties, and concerns, you'll be the core of negativity, especially now that you're called to be the source of positivity. The converse is true, however. Being silent about them will just make you look hypocritical and in denial to say the least. 

Even if you're picnicking and have no idea what to do next, talk to the team, and express your feelings about the situation at hand. Everyone with a sense of understanding knows that in a crisis, anything can happen and even the most quick-witted of us all is bound to be scared. It is OK to be afraid. People want to see you acknowledging the situation, and brainstorming with them to find a solution because, in the face of crisis, any idea could work. By permitting your employees to be human, they also allow you to be human and they too feel motivated to come up with potential solutions and opportunities for growth.

 3. Be The Conduit Your Team Leans On When Concerned. 

The best leaders are those that others can lean on for comfort, wisdom, and care. When the team has concerns about the situation, you should be the foundation that keeps them strong. Show them that you care and make your door open for anyone through:

Setting up an email where employees can anonymously ask questions.Placing a suggestion box in a central office area. Calling a team meeting and allowing those with questions to ask them. Encouraging the team to express any concerns and make the effort to listen to them and answer every question they may have. 

This will have innumerable benefits towards team motivation and also give you an idea of expectations by the team from you. You, therefore, strategize for the future. In a high-level view, you might not be conversant with low-level details, and communication with employees helps open the dialogue, therefore it helps you understand how things function. For further assistance on understanding dynamics low-level details, you could also hire a business consultant. 

4. Employee Engagement is Still Key

If you ask any business coach or consultant in Brisbane, Perth or Melbourne...or any other city well known for its business culture, they will tell you this: Employee happiness is a fleeting and short-lived measure of the strength of any business. With this in mind, therefore, do not aim at employee happiness but rather aim for contribution, employee productivity, and engagement, with happiness as a byproduct of this. At the end of the day, your organization exists for profitability. Without this, business is meaningless. 

You should therefore never give away your power as a leader, just to make employees happy. This doesn't mean you shouldn't fuel your employees' happiness, it just shouldn't be the primary focus. When employees remain engaged, there's a chance for growth even in crises. This is because it gives a sense of enthusiasm, passion, and positivity about work. It fuels them to still be innovative and come up with ideas and solutions. If anything, encouraging them to be engaged will yield more happiness. To create a culture of productivity here are some tips:

Set up problem-solving groups and give them specific, meaningful tasks. Provide relevant training.Encourage discussions and brainstorming.Request constructive feedback and offer constructive criticism as well. 

5. Be a Leader of Leaders

Taking the lion's share of risks and worries, you are bound to be under more pressure than any other employee.  If you're struggling with managing too many departments at once, empower the teams to make decisions on the go. To do this, here are tips:

Equip employees with the tools and resources that they can rely on to make wise decisions.Empower and train them on ethical decision making.Trust them, and in wrong decisions explain where they are wrong, to avoid repetition of mistakes. Teach them your way of thinking to come up with the right solutions.Stand by them after decisions.  As you do this, you empower your employees to be leaders, to have integrity, and to be independent enough to make conscious decisions that will benefit the company. 

6. Deal in Hope Rather Than Despair

Some time ago there was a wildfire that threatened the city of Perth, having jumped a major freeway in southern Perth, thought to have threatened lives, killing 2 people and injuring 22 of them. It was however contained, only a few Kilometers for the heart of the city. Imagine panicking, as a small business owner in Perth, preaching panic, and causing havoc, even before the fire touches the city's ground. 

When your organization is in crisis, you need to be the source of hope. Even when you have no idea whether the situation will be resolved, preach hope and positivity, with a belief that crisis will be over in no time. Be encouraging, concise, and help them trust your words. 

One of the best strategies to do this as a business coach is to discuss long-term projects and strategies. This fills the team with the hope that there is a future after the crisis. For example, right now in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we all need reassurance that there's a future for us even with hundreds of thousands of deaths. A hopeful team will want to go to higher heights with you even after the crisis is over. 

7. Check-In so they Don’t Check Out

If you don't want distracted employees or quitters for employees, keep tabs with them by communicating much often. As people work from home in the face of COVID-19, it is easy to get distracted and reset priorities even on a workday. Some might be so concerned about their family's well-being that nothing else matters hence quit their jobs altogether. 
These different scenarios could be isolating for employees and could lead to depression. Checking in will not only keep them focused, but it will also help them open up. Ensure that aside from work matters, you ask how they are holding up the events of their day, and make resources for mental health-boosting available to them. This adds to caring about their safety and builds stronger relationships with the team. 

8. Lead by Example

There is no greater pedagogy or teaching technique than leading by example. If you want someone to do something, do it first. Walk the walk not just talk the talk. As you undertake all measures above, ensure that you're on the forefront practicing them as well. If you're calling for work efforts, make sure that you're working as well. Show up, Share, Care, Contribute, and work with the team with pride and enthusiasm. 

9. Remember That Every Crisis Ends

As with the wildfires, every crisis will eventually come to an end. Set up systems and procedures to protect the business and your employees during the tough times but be shrewd enough to identify market strategies after the crisis. Some tips to help you do this are:

Come up with a plan. Rehearse the set goals and do a course correction to keep you on track. Expand the business reach especially now that clients are particularly online a lot more. Look for ways to position yourself to reach potential clients. Develop a positive mindset. Be grateful for each day, and maintain mental health.Prove that you value your team as an entrepreneur, and motivate them using all previous techniques. 

This will ensure that after the crisis your business remains standing, profitable, reaching a wider scope, and finally, create a strong reliable self-motivated team. 

10. Learn From Other Entrepreneurs

Last but definitely not least, is the most overlooked technique: Learning from others. There have been crises before this one and there are businesses adopting much better than you are. All you have to do is do a thorough inquisition, read, learn, and implement their strategies. To skip a lot of errors and commonly made mistakes, Tristan Wright / Evolve to Grow learned from various establishments in the industry and has grown impeccably simply by walking as per the footsteps of others.

Parting Shot:

Despite the uncertainty, the pain and fear, it is possible for all business enterprises to go back to where they were if not come back stronger, after the crisis This is essentially through a growth-oriented mindset, a motivated team, and the right strategies for the future.

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