Motivate & Inspire Your Work Team

By Chris Ihrig

Adversity breeds resourcefulness, capability, and high levels of engagement. Getting people to do their best work in trying times is one of leadership’s most significant, enduring and elusive challenges. There are times in all organizations when the external environment conspires against success. When adversity approaches the doorstep, it fosters seeds of doubt, lack of hope, deep anxiety and a loss of focus in employees. Demotivated and uncertain, the workforce withers under the blistering heat of anxiety and change.

Leaders striving to boost motivation should anchor to the conventional wisdom that a motivated workforce translates into better corporate performance. This is particularly true when faced with adversity. But what practices can leaders take to directly increase their employees’ engagement and motivation during challenging times?

Often looked at as the responsibility of the wider organizations, motivation is in fact at the fingertips of managers to pull from their tool belt. While some leaders hide behind the mask of protocols and procedures, those that get it appear to jump at the opportunity to provide a transfusion of motivational activities even in the most imperfect of corporate mazes.  Employees don’t hold their breath that their boss maintains all the keys to the company treasure chest and its bountiful contents of culture, rewards, job design, or decision-making power.  However, the keys that managers’ do hold are much more tangible. For example, the connecting of performance with rewards through the tools of recognition, encouragement and choice assignments. Equally impressive is the leader who stresses team behaviors in the face of the corporate selfishness.

By amplifying the good and filtering the bad, connecting the employee with the broader organization, and bridging individual performance to organization success, leaders play an active role in providing guideposts during challenge and adversity. Perhaps in these trying days of uncertainty leaders should consider tools, both new and some old stand-bys that infuse personal motivation and grounding.

  • Go beyond the media sound bite and establish a compelling purpose for the organization’s existence that captures the attention and demonstrates hope in the future.
  • Allow people the opportunity to make a personal contribution to organizational success by being creative and innovative while being less dependent on the structures and policies that constrain and restrict.
  • Establish a nation of forward-thinking Gurus by recognizing people for their achievements allowing everyone to have an area of expertise that they are known and appreciated for.
  • Give people a place to go to voice their worries and concerns, either individually or collectively while encouraging accountability for behavior in oneself and others.

The newly engaged, high-spirited employee will now be ready to put their energy toward overcoming the newest challenge, critical project or even an unexpected crisis. At the foundation, the greatest tools for motivation remain in the hands of leadership. The relationship between leader and employee is the compelling key to creating a context for motivation and engagement that drive results even in the most adverse chapters of organizational history.