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The fear of the unknown is never a pleasant feeling for anyone, and many of us are, in fact, facing such unknowns with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us during this period have felt exhausted, dismayed and apprehensive, given that only a few months ago we were living life as usual.
As a manager or a business owner, you must recognize that it’s your job to think about how to keep employees motivated, and this means you must be able to offer support for the anxieties and worries that your employees may be experiencing at the moment.
Those feeling this way will be far less motivated and prepared to get stuck in, so in this blog, we’re going to explore how business owners and managers can lead from the front to keep employees motivated in these exceptional circumstances.
Us human beings are predisposed to feel stressed, taught and angry during difficult periods of our lives, and this is due to fundamental neuroanatomy. Once this stress begins, it’s essential to ensure that steps are taken to calm, which can become a perpetual and harmful cycle of painful thoughts and feelings.
Once these traits begin to seep into the day-to-day running of a business, they can become infectious, which can start to impact everyone. This is especially the case at the moment when many of us are either working from home or facing a return to a workplace that is very different from what we know.
What is Compassionate Management?
The workforce has changed; it’s no longer a case of merely punching in and punching out. The modern employee requires and expects support in the workplace.
Trying to understand what someone is going through is the right first step, but that is just the first step, as further positive actions must solidify this understanding.
Compassionate management takes the concept of empathy to a new level by urging those in leadership positions to really try to understand the physiological and psychological reasoning behind an employee’s behavior. It’s crucial to remember that although we’ve all been impacted by the coronavirus in some form or another, no two people’s experiences will be the same.
Some Ways to Keep Employees Motivated
Below, we’ve highlighted some ways which you can use to keep employees motivated during stressful times-
1. Take Care of Yourself First
You’ll be better placed to support the emotional needs of your team if you’re first able to recognize and handle your own feelings of stress and anxiety.
Take some time out to really understand how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. Once you’ve taken some time for this activity, you’ll be seen as a far stronger and emotionally intelligent leader.
It’s crucial to remember that if you are unable to handle your own emotions, then you’re doing a disservice to those around you since you’re in no position to support them.
2. Encourage Self-Compassion
Part of this process is giving your team the tools to handle what they’re experiencing. Some may be looking around them and wondering how their colleagues are coping so well, while they are stricken with worry and fear for the future.
Empower them to do precisely what you did; to give themselves a little bit of slack as they work through how and why they’re experiencing these feelings. As we’ve already touched upon stress is a normal reaction when someone feels as though they’re being backed into a corner.
Most importantly, there’s no shame in acknowledging that you’re feeling what they’re feeling too – your whole team needs, now more than ever, to come together to lend a hand where necessary during this most unusual of times.
3. Do People Need Help?
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Some will be more than happy to come to you when they need help, whereas others will require a bit of a push since they’ll never willingly do so on their own.
Ask your team what they need help with; perhaps someone is struggling with a specific task and may require you to show them more visually what needs to be done over a video call, or maybe someone has childcare needs in the face of having to return to the office full time.
As we said previously, everyone will be experiencing these times differently, so ask yourself, ‘how can I be most helpful?’
4. Be Transparent
Even though things are beginning to resemble something of the life we used to know, many things still remain uncertain, particularly from an economic standpoint. This inevitably means that the financial future of many businesses is up in the air, and it is imperative that you acknowledge this.
Even if your intentions are good, you mustn’t repress, ignore or deny what is happening. Bottling up your own emotions doesn’t mean that your employees will follow suit, and the eventual overspill of emotion will spread anger and discontent.
Instead, be transparent. Perhaps the company is experiencing hard times, but you need to do everything within your power to keep this team together to continue to deliver what is required, and by the time things get back to normal, maybe your business will be all the better for it.
5. Realign Your Focus
You could tie yourself in knots, even at the best of times, if you begin to worry about that which is entirely out of your control.
This is why it’s vital to realign your focus onto things that you can control, to ensure that you’re doing the very best to keep your employees motivated.
Perhaps you’re concerned that you have more time on your hands at the moment, this is something that can’t be helped, and is a natural consequence of the times.
In this case, maybe you could funnel your team’s focus on lead generation or improving a particular business process that isn’t quite where you need it to be.
6. Be the Leader You’d Want Yourself
Stress and anxiety prey on those that aren’t looking after themselves properly, which is why to sleep, nutrition and exercise should be at the top of your agenda at the moment – especially when working from home. After all, if you aren’t taking care of your own health and wellbeing, you can’t reasonably expect others to do the same.
Keep motivating your employees to take of themselves, once again comes back to really understanding them as individuals. For example, perhaps one of your team is a natural worrier; in this case, you may want to suggest to them that they take a look at some meditation and relaxation apps.
Of course, this is not about dictating to people what they can and can’t do in their personal lives, but more offering advice and guidance where you think it may be necessary.
7. Increase Communication
Every organization in every sector will inevitably be facing some kind of hardship at this time, which is why communication is absolutely crucial.
Your employees expect those in leadership positions to keep them abreast of every significant decision that is being made behind the scenes, which may impact the way they need to work and behave to ensure the business can survive.
For example, if a few crucial clients have paused their contracts, explain to your employees what happened, exactly where the company is at this moment, where you think it will go and what you need from the team.
Honest and open communication is far better than rumor and second-hand news, which may not always cover the facts of the situation.
It’s important to emphasize that stress is a normal response when times are tough; try to keep motivating your employees to take control and ownership of their own thoughts and feelings.
On the other hand, no amount of advice and encouragement will be beneficial if you’re seen to be ignoring the help that you’re handing out to others, so it’s important that you actively partake in these processes too.
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