Motivate your staff by reviving effective work habits

January 6, 2013

Q: Last week my team returned from the holidays rested but unmotivated and unfocused. What can I do to re-engage them in work?

A: When depleted employees recharge their batteries during an extended time off, inertia can set in, making re-entry challenging. Cut through the holiday hangover by reviving their effective work habits.

Ride the holiday mood by hosting a new year’s social meeting highlighting last year’s wins, crediting the key players and having them share their key learn-ings. Present lighthearted awards for the accomplishments and comical prizes for meeting participation.

Jump-start their creativity by brainstorming a list of what they want to build on from the previous year’s successes. Stimulate a positive environment by inviting them to dream BIG. What do they really want to create as a team this year? If there were no limitations, what would it look like? How will they define success? What new skills and responsibilities do they want to gain?

As the team begins to imagine what could be possible, compile a list of simple ideas and short-term goals on a large whiteboard.

When your team starts to see the magnitude of accomplishments compared to modest effort required, you’ll create momentum without overwhelming them. As the list grows before their eyes they will feel productive, committed and inspired to move to action.

Finally, paint a compelling vision for them to invest in for the year. What does the team want to be known for at the end of the year? What attributes do they want to be recognized for? Innovative, visionary, bold or customer focused? What is each member’s personal stake in the vision?

When members create and take ownership of a vision, it’s easier to keep them on track, hold them accountable and re-spark them throughout the year.

Originally printed in The Province, January 6, 2013.

Team resists new vision

January 19, 2011

Q: After being in the role of CEO for six months, my executive team continues to resist my vision. I recognize a change in leadership requires an adjustment period. But they agreed to the new direction, so I feel angry and betrayed by them. How do I get them to do what I need to move my initiatives forward?

A: The answer probably lies in your question. You clearly own the vision. Your team must, too. Your commanding style of leadership may be alienating them. They could be resisting you, not your vision.

Try a collaborative approach. Shift your attitude from me and mine to us and we, making room for them to share with you. Begin by being genuinely curious about their perspectives, opinions and recommendations. Switch from telling them what you want to asking them what they suggest.

Encourage and incorporate their input wherever possible. If you continually resist their ideas, they will feel disempowered, quickly disengage and will probably start resisting you, too.

Your team needs to feel included, trusted and supported. Give them recognition and credit, point out what they are doing well. They will likely respond more favourably once you value their unique abilities and contribution.

See things from their vantage point. Demonstrate empathy for their role of integrating a new strategy with staff’s current reality.

Perhaps you moved to action before establishing solid alignment on the vision, goals and methods. Clarify the vision, set outcomes, and targets then give them the latitude to run with it.

Solicit their feedback on your leadership. Make the necessary changes in you so they willingly move forward with you at the helm. It is easier to adapt your style than your entire teams’.

Originally published in The Province, January 16, 2011.